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State of the World’s Forests 2018

  • January 30, 2019

As governments determine how best to commit national efforts to achieve transformational change, The State of the World’s Forests 2018 (SOFO 2018) analyses the role that forests and trees – and the people who use and manage them – can play in helping countries achieve their objectives and bring about a brighter future. SOFO 2018 shines a light on the profound interlinkages that exist between forests and many other goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, enabling policymakers to strike the right balance in actions, investments and partnerships directed towards food security, poverty alleviation, ecological conservation and, ultimately, to find pathways to sustainable development.

Forests and trees make vital contributions to both people and the planet, bolstering livelihoods, providing clean air and water, conserving biodiversity and responding to climate change.

Forests act as a source of food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people. In addition to helping to respond to climate change and protect soils and water, forests hold more than three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, provide many products and services that contribute to socio-economic development and are particularly important for hundreds of millions of people in rural areas, including many of the world’s poorest.

The world’s population is projected to increase from around 7.6 billion today to close to 10 billion people by 2050. The corresponding global demand for food – estimated to grow by 50 percent during this period – is placing enormous pressure on the way we use productive land, particularly in developing countries where the overwhelming majority of the world’s 800 million poor and hungry people are concentrated. Deforestation, chiefly caused by the conversion of forest land to agriculture and livestock areas, threatens not only the livelihoods of foresters, forest communities and indigenous peoples, but also the variety of life on our planet. Land-use changes result in a loss of valuable habitats, land degradation, soil erosion, a decrease in clean water and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. How to increase agricultural production and improve food security without reducing forest area is one of the great challenges of our times.

Evidence is key to opening the forest pathways to sustainable development.

While the importance of forests and trees to a healthy, prosperous planet is universally recognized, the depth of those roots may be greater than imagined. Several indicators under SDG15 focus on forests, specifically monitoring forest land and the share of forests under sustainable management. The Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA), coordinated by FAO, found that the world’s forest area decreased from 31.6 percent of the global land area to 30.6 percent between 1990 and 2015, but that the pace of loss has slowed in recent years.

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Copyright © 2019 Mediterranean Forest Communicators Network.