XIV World Forest Congress 2015

Monday 7 September highlights

Opening ceremony and high-level dialogue on the global forest agenda

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Prince Laurent of Belgium, Special Ambassador to FAO for Forests and the Environment, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, and Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of South Africa, were among speakers who opened the XIV World Forestry Congress today. Prince Laurent described the Congress as a "formidable opportunity" to address challenges facing forests.

The opening ceremony was followed by a VIP tree-planting ceremony and a tour through the Exhibition Centre and past the FAO Pavilion. 

More than a dozen ministers and deputy ministers from around the world took part in a high-level dialogue on the global forest agenda to explore how investments in forests, forestry and forest communities can best contribute to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s video message   

Launch of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2015

The world's forests continue to shrink as populations increase and forest land is converted to agriculture and other uses, but over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed down by more than 50 percent, FAO said in a report published today.

Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990, according to FAO's most comprehensive forest review to date, The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.

The foremost global forest data assessment reveals how the world’s forests have changed over the last 25 years. 

Updated every five years, FRA provides comprehensive information on the state of sustainable forest management, the percentage of forests lost and gained, and other trends by region, country, income category and climatic domain.

Press release: World deforestation slows down as more forests are better managed
FRA synthesis report  
Infographic: How are the world's forests changing?
FRA desk reference
Special issue of the journal Forest Ecology and Management
Soundcloud | World deforestation slows down as more forests are better managed 

Opening Plenary: Forest and people - investing in a sustainable future

What are the role of public and private investments; what drives investments in forests and how to minimize risks for investors; what are sustainable land use investments; partnerships; investments in forestry for poverty eradication? Moderated by Matt Frei, Channel 4 News presenter, the opening plenary raised these questions and set the scene with a diverse and distinguished panel of speakers from international NGOs, private industry, research thinktanks and regional and international organizations.  

Video message from Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Sub-theme dialogues

Sessions on the six Congress sub-themes discussed the following topics: 

  • Building enabling policy environments for communities & forest - farm producers
  • What is resilience and why does it matter?
  • Feeding the world: land use options and the role of forests and trees
  • Growing better trees for the needs of humankind
  • Forest monitoring: Who benefits and what are the returns on investment?
  • Building capacity to address forest-related governance issues across sectors

South Africa receives FAO Millennium Development Goal award

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva presented South Africa with an award in recognition of its outstanding performance in keeping the proportion of under-nourished people below 5 percent since 1990. The Deputy Minister of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, received the award, which relates to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to halve the proportion of hungry people by a 2015 deadline, or bringing it below the 5 percent threshold.