Forestry production in France has been encouraged by the government since the 16th century, when wood was a strategic resource in building warships. Although much of the original forest cover was cut in the course of centuries, strict forest management practices and sizable reforestation projects during the last 100 years have restored French forests considerably. Since 1947, the government has subsidized the afforestation and replanting of 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forest-land along with thousands of miles of wood transport roads. The reforestation project in the Landes region of southwestern France has been particularly successful. During 1990–2000, the forested area increased by an annual average of 0.4%. About 66% of the forestland is covered with oak, beech, and poplar and 34% with resinous trees. There were some 15.3 million hectares (37.9 million acres) of forest in 2000, amounting to 28% of France's total area. This makes France the third most forested country in the EU, behind Sweden and Finland. The forestry and wood products sector employed 257,000 persons in 35,000 companies in 2000.
Production of roundwood in 2001 was 50.17 million cu m(1.77 billion cu ft), and was supplemented with 2.17 million cu m(76.6 million cu ft) of roundwood imports. Particleboard production reached 3.8 million cu m (134 million cu ft) that year, while plywood panel production amounted to 561,000 cu m(19.8 million cu ft). Trade in forestry products in 2001 amounted to $2.4 billion in imports and $1.9 billion in exports.
In December 1999, a hurricane hit France and damaged an estimated 50 million cu m (1.8 billion cu ft) of trees, with 31 million cu m (1.1 billion cu ft) in public forests.