34.5% of the Luxembourg territory is covered with forests. These constitute the country's biggest biodiversity reservoir and fulfill several other very important functions, such as the filtration of drinking water, the oxygen production, the fight against erosion and the storage of CO2.
The totality of Luxembourg's public forests is inventoried, thus 88% of their surface is managed following a long-term management plan. The state of health of the forests has been registered since 1984 by the Nature and Forestry Agency according to a systematic network of observation plots. These regular surveys allow it to detect changements and to evaluate the risks. Thus, the information received becomes a crucial basis for decisions concerning forestry and environmental policies.
The inventory – called 'phytosanitary' inventory – of 2015 reveals that the state of the forests in Luxembourg has unfortunately stabilised at a low level, with nearly 70% of the trees being slightly or considerably damaged. Our forests suffer from impacts linked to human activities (air pollution, climate change, ...): their state of health has constantly deteriorated the last 30 years, affecting all forest tree species. Furthermore, our forests are very often fragmented by roads and settlement areas and the private forest ownerships are often scattered, which renders them more fragile. Added to this is that the forests are often under-exploited and generally too old.
In order to put an end to this negative evolution, it will be necessary to continue managing the Luxembourg forests in a sustainable way, so that the can carry on to assure their functions and deliver ecosystem services for the well-being of the population. The necessity of a sustainable management is reinforced by climate change, which requires resilient forests. Several measures are being applied in Luxembourg in order to improve the state of the forests, namely the application of a nature-orientated sylviculture, the implementation of natural forest reserves and the provision of a new system of financial aids from the State.
Furthermore, a revision process of the national legislation concerning the forests is foreseen, due to the fact that the actual disposals are for some part very old (17th-19th century). The aim of this initiative is to create a real 'forestry Code', constituting a modern and innovate legal framework for the actual and future challenges of the forests and the forestry sector, and combine all of the provisions in relation to the protection and the sustainable management of the forests under a coherent form. Thus, the legislation concerning forests becomes more transparent and more accessible.
(Article written by the editorial team of the portal 'www.luxembourg.lu')