© Hollandse Hoogte

Stocks of standing timber

Dutch stocks of standing timber have increased by an average of over 1.3 million m3 per year since 2000 (over-bark, i.e. measured before the bark has been removed), an average annual growth of 1.9 percent. In 2015, the standing stock amounted to 80.9 million m3. This is the combined result of an expansion of forest areas in this period and more recently also the increase in the stock per hectare. Timber production from Dutch forests is relatively stable: between 0.8 and 1.0 million m3 annually (under bark).

Developments in stocks of standing timber (live plus standing dead wood) are expressed in million m3 of round wood equivalents (over-bark).

The issue

Availability and quality of forests are key factors in economic activity and wider well-being and hence an important indicator for green growth. In economic terms, forestry is relatively small in the Netherlands; the main benefits derived from forests are recreation and tourism, nature conservation and biodiversity. Nevertheless, stocks of standing timber also represent other functions provided by forests such as carbon sequestration, fuelwood provision and pollution mitigation. The cleaning ability of forest ecosystems contributes to a cleaner environment for humans: fine dust is captured by vegetation, especially by (coniferous) trees. Forests and tree rows can therefore contribute to improving local air quality.


The increase in standing timber is the result of an expansion of forest area and an increase in average stock per area, , although in the last few years the forest area has started to decrease. Although domestic timber stocks have increased, timber imports outweigh domestic production by a factor of 22. Pressure on scarce resources and negative environmental effects caused by the use of timber therefore ,mainly occur abroad. The Netherlands imports most of its timber from within Europe. The environmental impact of this wood is relatively modest, as most of the forests it comes from are managed sustainably and replanted. Tropical timber accounts for about 4 percent of imports. As a consequence of the economic crisis, the use of tropical wood has decreased since 2008.

International comparison

The stock of standing timber represents the growing stock in forests and on other wooded land. The substantial increase observed in most OECD countries is not only the result of an increase in forest areas and wooded land, but most importantly the result of an average net growth in stock per hectare. For the OECD as a whole, the growth of forest area was 0.7 percent between 2000 and 2015; for the European OECD countries it was just over 3 percent. .This resulted in a total stock growth for the OECD as a whole of close to 9 percent and for the European OECD countries by over 16 percent in this period; average annual stock increases of 0.6 and 1.0 percent respectively. Gross growth per hectare was only partly offset by the harvesting of these forests, explaining the net per hectare growth. Dutch stock growth is above average, but the total stock of the Netherlands is very small compared to most other countries. Nearly no countriesexperienced a net decrease in the growing stock of timber in these fifteen years, although valuable natural forest area may have been replaced by forest plantations. It should be noted that Canada and the United States together account for around 70 percent of growing stocks of timber of the countries shown in the figure. The Dutch ranking in terms of growth rate of stocks has deteriorated somewhat: eleventh in the period 2010-2015, down from eighth in 2005-2010 and fourth in 2000-2005.

These figures represent OECD countries with completed data.
Figures for Canada and Luxembourg show no change for the period 2000 - 2015. No change is reported for Finland en Israel for the last period, 2010 - 2015.
Iceland has a very high percentage change from 2000 – 2015; 335 percent.