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Agriculture suffers in areas and countries that have lost their forests, US Forest Service head warns

At a meeting with the FAO Director-General, Tom Tidwell stressed the tight link between forests and food security

FAO Director-General with the United States Forest Service chief.

24 June 2014, Rome- FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met with the United States Forest Service chief, Tom Tidwell, who was in Rome to attend the Committee on Forests (COFO) at FAO headquarters.

Graziano da Silva and Tidwell discussed several bilateral cooperation topics.

“We’ve been working with FAO for years and COFO is the opportunity to elevate the importance of forests around the world as well as their tight connection to food security,” Tidwell said after the meeting. “We want to reach agreement on the work that we would like FAO to continue to do over the next two years, to develop the programme, but this is also a great opportunity to share the technology and the things people have learnt in the past two years”, he said.

“It is so important to be able to find ways to share the knowledge and lessons that are being learnt in one country, which can be also applied to others,” Tidwell added, noting that it is “essential” to cooperate on understanding the importance of forests, the role they play in food security and the need “to continue to restore the world’s forests for all the benefits they provide.”

Tidwell underlined the significant importance of forests for agriculture. “Forests are very compatible with agriculture. Around the world, agriculture suffers in areas and countries that have lost their forests,” he said, stressing that forests are essential for their watersheds and their role in mitigating the impacts of flooding and storms.

“We don’t have to give up our forests in order to promote more agricultural activities. It’s just a matter of finding the balance to have both.”

The US Forest Service chief expressed support for the high-level, intergovernmental Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which FAO is co-organizing with the United Nations World Health Organization in Rome in November 2014.  “It’s a very important initiative, because it is not only food that we need to provide for everybody, but nutritious food,” he said.

Watch the video interview with the United States Forest Service chief, Tom Tidwell.