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Green jobs grow in the forest

Photo: FAO©/ Vyacheslav Oseledko

The green economy is creating new job opportunities in the forest sector in a variety of areas, such as recreation, leisure and sports, ecotherapy, urban forestry, and the control of pests, fire and disease.

In this spirit, more than 30 forest experts from about 20 countries worldwide are participating in a workshop this week on green forest jobs, taking place on 17–18 September in Geneva.

The workshop, titled “Green Forest Jobs: Exploring Opportunities and Increasing the Capacity of UNECE Member States,” is a joint effort of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Forest experts agree that management of forest ecosystem services is a great way to create green jobs in the forest sector. Until recently, forest jobs were mostly associated with traditional activities related to silviculture (the growing and cultivation of trees) and timber harvesting. Today, the potential for the creation of new job opportunities is enhancing all forest ecosystem functions.

Examples of these green forest jobs, along with emerging tasks and functions that can lead to new employment opportunities in the forest, are summarized in the recent UNECE/FAO publication “Green Jobs in the Forest Sector,” which builds on the work of the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Green Jobs in the Forest Sector (Joint ILO/UNECE/FAO Expert Network).

The publication also identifies “green” skills needed for the careers of the future. New, environmentally-driven competencies will feature the application of new technologies and business management models. New careers will stem from enhanced awareness of environmental and social consequences of economic activities in the forests and from the willingness to apply sustainable development values at the workplace.

“Transition to a green economy offers new prospects to the forest sector and leads to the creation of new jobs,” said FAO forestry officer Alicja Kacprzak. “Development of new economic activities in the forests, including in recreation or forest ecosystems management, can retain existing forest workforce, revitalise rural areas and create attractive career paths for young people. This potential needs to be explored.”

Green forest jobs can help retain jobs in many small and medium-sized enterprises and can create new employment opportunities for professional groups that may incur job losses in the process of the transition to a green economy. These jobs can also facilitate the integration into the labor market of other vulnerable groups, such as young people, women or rural populations.

The further development of green jobs in the forest sector will strongly depend on the revision of existing curricula aimed at addressing existing skill gaps and adapting to new career paths. This can also improve the public perception of the forest sector as an innovative sector that attracts qualified workers and offers modern careers in a green economy. Therefore, continuous dialogue on the future of green jobs in the forest sector is crucial. Green jobs are one of the key activities of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section.

UNECE and FAO, together with the International Labour Organization, are leading organizations in the work on green jobs in the forest sector. They collaborate with a number of international and local stakeholders on defining, describing and promoting green forest jobs, related competencies, education and training for the forest sector in the context of a green economy.

17 September 2018, Geneva, Switzerland

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