Forest genetic resources (FGR) are the heritable materials maintained within and among tree and other woody plant species that are of actual or potential economic, environmental, scientific or societal value. They are crucial to the adaptation and protection of our ecosystems, landscapes and production systems, yet are subject to increasing pressures and unsustainable use.

Satisfying humans’ basic need for food puts enormous pressure on the environment. One of the key challenges facing the world today is how to meet the need for sufficient, safe and nutritious food without exhausting the resources available. While undernourishment is down from 1 billion people in 1992 to 805 million today (a fall of more than 17 percent in slightly more than 20 years), about one in nine people still suffers from chronic hunger,1 and about 162 million children under the age of five are stunted due to chronic malnutrition.2 This is unacceptable. In the words of FAO’s Director-General, “when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number is zero!”3

One of the major and growing environmental challenges of the 21st century will be the rehabilitation and restoration of forests and degraded lands. Notwithstanding the largescale restoration projects initiated in Africa and Asia as of the 1970s, the current level of interest in forest and landscape restoration is more recent. With the adoption of the strategic plan of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity for 2011-2020, a strong new impetus has been given not only to halt degradation, but to reverse it. The plan states that, by 2020, 15 percent of all degraded lands should be restored. This target is consistent with the Bonn Challenge, which calls for restoring 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAO in preference to others of a similar nature
that are not mentioned.

Not long ago, when large mammals harmed people we talked of accidents; when they damaged people’s assets we referred to incidents. Nowadays, human/wildlife conflicts are regarded as common occurrences. It seems that what were once considered exceptional or abnormal events have become normal or usual. Whether this is a result of higher frequency and amplitude is not clear, because we do not have reliable statistics to make accurate comparisons.

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