The FAO Forestry Programme addresses one of the very important, complex and controversial issues of modern times - how to maximize the potential of trees, forests 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.
In assisting its member countries to conserve and utilize forest and tree resources in a sustainable way, FAO works in partnership with governments, international organizations, international financing agencies, non-governmental groups, the private sector, communities and various interest groups and individuals. It strives to use scarce resources efficiently, share experience and avoid duplication of effort.
FAO's work in forestry is a comprehensive effort comprising normative and operational activities. FAO works with its member countries through the Organization's headquarters in Rome, Italy; through a network of decentralized but closely coordinated offices at country, subregional and regional levels; and through field projects. It also works closely with the other technical sectors within FAO's mandate, through interdisciplinary activities, both at headquarters and in the field.
FAO's work in forestry is organized into major programmes. Through the Programme on Forestry Policy and Planning, FAO promotes understanding of the socio-economic situation and potential of forestry activities and of tree and forest-based products. The Programme comprises collection, analysis and dissemination of information on production, trade and consumption; and monitoring of trends in development and investment as a basis for long-term policy formulation and sector planning. It also includes community forestry and strategies for involving rural people in forestry activities and benefits.
Through the Programme on Forest Resources, FAO prepares and promotes the adoption of guidelines for the management of both natural and plantation forests of all types and the biological diversity they contain. Forest resources assessment - the collection, analysis and dissemination of information on the present status and trends of the world's forests - is a key element of the programme. The programme also includes agroforestry, urban forestry and the protection of forests from fires, insects and diseases, as well as consideration of the impact of climatic change on forests.
Through the Programme on Forest Products, FAO promotes the environmentally sound and efficient utilization of all types of forest product, both wood and non-wood, at varying levels of complexity of operation and size of enterprise. The programme also targets efficient use of forest biomass for energy and provides information on the role of forests and forest products in carbon sequestration
The Forestry Field Programme provides direct technical assistance through field projects, mainly in developing countries. The FAO Investment Centre helps countries increase the flow and performance of investment in the forest sector.
FAO stresses networking and capacity-building in all of its work in forestry development. Emphasis is placed on building national capabilities in forest policy development and strategic planning, on institutional strengthening, on human resources development and on assisting local communities and organizations. This includes assistance in training staff, developing efficient extension methodologies and supporting research in sustainable forest management.
Finally, FAO's Forestry Programme provides technical inputs to the intergovernmental dialogue on sustainable forest management through the programmes role in the interagency Collaborative Partnership on Forests.