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Spain is the world's fifty-second largest country and Europe's fourth largest country. The vegetation of Spain is varied due to several factors including the diversity of the relief, the climate and latitude. Spain includes different phytogeographic regions, each with its own floristic characteristics resulting largely from the interaction of climate, topography, soil type and fire, biotic factors. Compared with other West European countries, the proportion of land devoted to agricultural purposes in Spain is low. In the 1980s, about 5 million hectares were devoted to permanent crops: orchards, olive groves, and vineyards. Another 5 million lay fallow each year because of inadequate rainfall. Permanent meadows and pastureland occupied 13.9 million hectares. Forests and scrub woodland accounted for 11.9 million hectares, and the balance was wasteland or was taken up by populated and industrial areas. Most of the natural forests of the Iberian Peninsula have long since disappeared because of erosion and uncontrolled harvesting for firewood, timber, or the creation of pastureland. A reforestation program had been under way in Spain since 1940, for meeting market demand for forest products, controlling erosion, and providing seasonal employment in rural areas. Eucalyptus trees, Lombardy poplars, and a variety of conifers were emphasized because of their fast growth. The value of Spain's forest products in 1985 was US$302 million. Pine trees grown in the north and the northwest as well as oak and beech trees grown in the Pyrenees accounted for most of the total. Commercial forestry products produced in Spain also include cork, turpentine, and resins. (Wikipedia)

Quick Facts

Land use

Total land area
36,524,500 hectares
Area of forest
36.8% of land area
Area of agriculture
53.9% of land area
Area of permanent cropland
9.9% of land area


46.4 million
Population growth
-0.1% annually
Rural population

Economics and development

GDP from agriculture
GDP per person
25831.60 USD

Climate change and biodiversity

CO2 emissions
5.10 metric tonnes per person
Threatened animal and plant species
National Restoration Targets
Sexta Comunicación Nacional de España

Spanish Forestry Plan focuses on sustainable development, multifunctionality, and  territorial and environmental cohesion with actions focused on fighting climate change including increasing carbon stored in forests (p70)

Measures for restoration of vegetation cover and expansion of forest area include:

  • reforestation for protective purposes and production;
  • hydrological forest restoration;
  • a programme of afforestation of agricultural land through the CAP (since 2008);
  • a plan to plant 45 million trees (2008-2011): planted 19.5 million trees on 24,500 hectares (budget cut limitations); and
  • the National River Restoration Strategy: actions to restore the good condition of rivers, minimize flood risks, enhance cultural heritage and promote rational use.
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Country Profiles – NBSAPs, National Reports (5th)

Goal is to protect, conserve and restore nature in Spain and reduce its main threats and to promote ecological restoration, environmental connectivity, and landscape protection (p.4).

The plan states that it will develop a national strategy for ecological restoration and ecosystem connectivity, to contribute to the conservation and restoration of natural habitats and species, develop strategies for conservation and restoration of endangered habitats or threatened species (p.137-138) .

Increases in forest area is partly because of abandoned farmland and afforestation.

The potential for afforestation to contribute to environmental restoration of degraded ecosystems is great if done following ecological criteria, especially regarding structural diversity and species composition(p.64).

Improving quality and increasing resilience, and decreasing fragmentation and connectivity issues represent the major challenge for forest management.

Other (National Strategies and Plans, Rural Development Programs, Natura 2000 areas, projects, and goals)
Spanish Forestry Plan 2002-2032 (2002)

Aims to increase the amount of carbon stored in forests through reforestation programmes, including: hydrological‐forest restoration, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agricultural land reforestation programme, reforestation within the Red Natura 2000, and planting 45 million trees. Sustainable management of forests will be achieved through forest planning, forest management and forestry to improve forest masses.

It states that the actions under the Plan to protect existing forests and preventing their degradation will impact on carbon storage. It is estimated that the implementation of the Forest Plan will result in a 60Gt increase of the carbon sequestration in Spain.

National Actions of the forestry plan include (p.65):

  • Restoration of vegetation cover and expansion of the forest area to perform the following functions:
    • create forest areas that could be exploited;
    • allow the allocation of a large vacant surfaces used today for agricultural use or abandonment of livestock;
    • generate significant indirect benefits such as improved water regime, erosion control, CO2 fixation, landscape, increase biodiversity, etc.; and
    • to allow compatibility with other uses such as hunting, grazing and other seasonal activities.
  • Afforestation on agricultural lands (p.78).
  • Improvement of forests through silviculture (p.84).
Spanish Forest Strategy

An objective of the strategy (p.183).

  • Protection and improvement of the vegetation cover and restoration of the degraded forest ecosystems, according to their social, economic and ecological functions

Spanish Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use (SSBC)

  • Common objective with Spanish Forestry Plan (p.185).
    • Restoration of degraded forest systems, returning them to the highest feasible natural state as a functionally ecological criterion or to guarantee the broadest possible range of potential uses in areas under intensive use

Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

  • Forest Policy: Forest Restoration
    • Hydrological forest restoration contributes to the creation of rural employment, conservation and improvement of biodiversity, mitigation of climate change by increasing carbon sinks, and improving landscape and recreational value of forests.
    • The techniques of hydrological and forest restoration are based on implementation of silvicultural treatments aimed at improving the ecological function of forests, with particular attention to the protection and soil formation.
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