Forests and Agricultural Systems

Although forests cover about 3 866 million ha (FRA 2000), less than one-third of the total land area of the planet, they play a primary role in sustaining agricultural systems and in maintaining environmental sustainability in general.

Forests benefit agriculture by sustaining fresh water supply, contributing to soil generation and nutrient recycling, purifying air and water, maintaining biological diversity (including many plant genetic resources used in agriculture), facilitating carbon sequestration to diminish the presence of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, thereby mitigating climate change, helping to regulate meteorological conditions such as temperature, thus providing agricultural systems with stability and sustainability.

Furthermore, forests have a direct impact in rural people¿s livelihoods and food security. In developing countries, about 1.2 billion people rely on agro-forestry farming systems. Forests also shelter about 300 million people around the world, while approximately 60 million indigenous people are almost wholly dependent on forests.

last updated:  Tuesday, February 22, 2005