Virgin forests are rare in the European temperate zone due to the continuous use of forests historically and to high population densities. Such forests are those whose structure and dynamics developed untouched by humans under natural conditions. Natural forests have developed and regenerated with natural succession, but can show anthropogenic influences from the past. Scattered relics of virgin forest still exist in remote areas, in mountainous areas and wetlands, especially in the Balkans, Alps and Carpathians. The latest estimates show that there are about 0.3 million ha of virgin forest (0.4% of the total forest area) left in strict forest reserves and other protection areas in the temperate zone of Europe. The countries with the highest proportion of strictly protected areas are the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Both protected forests networks and close-to-nature silviculture are needed to maintain forest biodiversity. Rare and vulnerable remnants of virgin forests can only be protected by medium or large reserves.