Forests are among the most important repositories of terrestrial biological diversity. Together, tropical, temperate and boreal forests offer very diverse habitats for plants, animals and micro-organisms.
Biological diversity is the basis for a wide array of goods and services provided by forests. The variety of forest trees and shrubs play a vital role in the daily life of rural communities in many areas, as sources of wood and non-wood products, as contributors to soil and water conservation, and as repositories of aesthetic, ethical, cultural and religious values. Forest animals are a vital source of nutrition and income to many people, and have vital roles in forest ecology, such as pollination, seed predation, dispersal and germination, and predation on potential pest species.
Forest biological diversity is one of the seven thematic elements of the concept of Sustainable Forest Management approved by the General Assembly of the UN in 2007, together with the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests.
Losing forest diversity means missing opportunities for medicines, food, raw materials and employment opportunities, in one word:
Forests provide more than 10% of the GDP in many of the poorest countries. It is estimated that the forestry sector provides formal employment for 10 million people and informal employment for additional 30 to 50 million people in developing countries. Notwithstanding such a relevant role in world economy, progress towards sustainable forest management is still limited, and there is continuing loss and degradation of forests in many developing countries. Losing forest diversity means missing opportunities for medicines, food, raw materials and employment opportunities, in one word: welfare.
The FAO Forestry Programme focuses on how to maximize the potential of forests, trees and related resources to improve people’s economic, social and environmental conditions while ensuring that the resource is conserved to meet the needs of future generations.
FAO works to improve the knowledge on sustainable forest and wildlife management, and supports the development and implementation of appropriate policies and practices to ensure forest and wildlife protection in order to maintain or improve their capacity to produce wood and non-wood products, sustain wildlife populations, conserve biodiversity, safeguard wildlife habitat, mitigate climate change, and protect soils and watersheds.