Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country with one of the highest share of forests and the largest variety of forest species in the Western Balkans. Due to their natural and diverse structure, as well as extensive natural regeneration, forests represent crucial resources for the further development of the economy and society. Forests and forest land in Bosnia and Herzegovina cover an area of 3,231,500 ha, of which 1,652,400 ha are high forests and 1,252,200 ha are coppice forests. The rest of the area includes shrubs, bare land and other woodland. This data point to the fact that about 63% of Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory is covered with forests and forest land, with one of the highest values in Europe; of which around 20% is privately owned and 80% is state-owned (ownership and management of forest resources is within the competence of the Entities: Republic of Srpska and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has delegated the managerial competencies to the cantonal governments, and the Brcko District of BiH).
There is no unified forestry policy in BiH or a state ministry in charge of forests. The only state-level institution that deals with coordination activities in the field of forestry is the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of BiH. Although there is a ministry in charge of forestry at the FBiH level, the Law on Forests has not existed in this entity for almost 12 years. In 2009, by the decision of the FBiH Constitutional Court, the then law on forests was declared unconstitutional. The FBiH Government subsequently adopted the Decree on Forests as a solution, which was repealed in December 2011 by a ruling of the Constitutional Court. In the meantime, all cantons, except Herzegovina-Neretva, have adopted cantonal forest laws.
Forest management in both BiH entities has been transferred to public companies formed by the legislature and parliaments/assemblies. In the FBiH, the assemblies of all ten cantons form one forest management company in the canton, to which the cantonal minister in charge of forestry transfers the management of state forests for five years and the company is responsible for its work to the cantonal ministry.
The forestry sector in BiH is affected by corruption and illegal activities where illegal logging is most prominent, which results in both economic (stimulation of the gray economy, decline in business operations) and ecologically negative consequences (destruction of forest ecosystem causing erosion, torrents, disappearance of drinking water, habitat change, destruction of biodiversity, etc.). Some international organizations (e.g. WWF) claim that BiH (together with other Eastern European countries) represent a major source of illegal or suspicious wood on the EU market. According to the WWF data from 2008, the amount of illegally harvested wood from BiH has been estimated to be 1.2 million m3. On the other side, official data from domestic public authorities on an annual basis suggests much lower figures.
Active participants in the project "Regional Action for Combating Forest Crime and Corruption" are public forestry institutions in the Sarajevo Canton, Zenica-Doboj Canton, Una-Sana and Herzegovina-Neretva Canton.
The total area of forests and forest lands, regardless of the type of ownership, in the Sarajevo Canton is 82,998.88 ha, which is about 65.43% of the total area of the canton. According to the official reports of the Cantonal Forestry Administration of KS, illegal activities present in the forestry of KS are reflected mainly in illegal logging, placing on the market of unregistered timber, usurpation of forest land, etc.
Zenica-Doboj Canton has a large forest area (182,389.20 ha). It is a poor canton and illegal logging is common.
Una-Sana Canton is rich in karst, sub-Mediterranean and continental forest areas that represent the natural, landscape, ecological, economic and tourist value of this area. Forests, along with water wealth, are the largest natural resource of Una-Sana Canton. The total forest area amounts to 220,439.56 ha, of which 180,523 ha are state forests.
Of the total area of the Herzegovina - Neretva Canton, 187,505 ha or 42.45% are forests and forest land. Significant problems of the forestry sector in this canton are reflected in low productivity, insufficient technological equipment, insufficiently developed integrated forest protection and inadequate prevention measures in terms of response to disasters and weather conditions.
Having in mind the functions (ecological, sociological and economic) of forests and the fact that forests and forest lands occupy a significant area in these cantons, it is clear that forest management represents a vital state interest.