Climate change, pollution pose threats to European forests

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Climate change, pollution and encroaching human development are posing an increased threat to the long-term stability and health of European forests, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report released on Monday.

The EEA report, "European forest ecosystems: state and trends," gave an updated health check on how forests are coping.

It assessed whether forest ecosystems could still manage to provide key "services" for the environment, such as helping regulate climate, sustaining watersheds, providing clean water.

Forests also act as "carbon sinks," clean the air people breathe, and help preserve and protect species biodiversity.

The report identified habitat loss and degradation, the risk posed by invasive alien species, pollution, and climate change as the top four challenges European forests currently face.

These threats, combined with economic activities such as logging, urban sprawl, and the increasing use of forests for leisure, made forests more vulnerable to degradation, the report found.

To tackle these problems and to improve the protection of forests, the report called for enhanced research and data collection on European level, tapping into national forest inventories and monitoring to better track changes in forest cover and conditions.

Moreover, the enhanced coordination among stakeholders, forest owners, the timber industry, policymakers and the general public is needed to improve the sustainable management of forests, stressed the report.

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