Key messages

Food Security

  • Forests and trees on farms are a source of food and cash income for more than a billion of the world's poorest people.
  • An estimated 2.4 billion people rely on wood fuel, including charcoal, for cooking and boiling water. The use of wood as a source of energy is vital for local economies, and for maximizing the palatability and nutritional value of foods that require cooking and for water sterilization.
  • Forest products (non-wood and timber) are often the basis of small-scale enterprises. Such products can be particularly important in arid and semi-arid areas where agricultural products are vulnerable to external threats such as drought or extreme weather events.
  • Forest foods and tree products, such as leaves, fruits, seeds and nuts, roots and tubers, mushrooms, honey, wild animals and insects, have been important components of rural diets for millenia and provide nutrient-rich supplements for rural households.


  • 80% of the world’s forests are publicly owned and therefore strengthening policy, legal and institutional frameworks that improve local people's rights to access and manage forest resources goes a long way to improve livelihoods.
  • For millions of people living in poverty, forest and tree resources not only provide food, fuel for cooking and heating, medicine, shelter and clothing, but they also function as safety nets in crises or emergencies.
  • Rattan, bamboo, paper fibers, cloth fibers, traditional thatching materials, ethnic foodstuffs and spices, medicinal plants, fruits and seeds are examples of non-wood forest products and of the wide range of forest products managed by local communities.


Expert interviews


Integrated policy for forests, food security and sustainable livelihoods: lessons from the Republic of Korea 2 March 2016 In the 1950s and 1960s, the Republic of Korea was one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Deforestation had stripped the country of half its forest cover, contributing to severe erosion, repetitive flood and drought damage and a decrease in agricultural production which threatened national food security. Recognizing the importance of forests’ watershed and soil protection functions in restoring agricultural productivity, the government undertook an intensive forest rehabilitation effort. The implementation of two Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plans in the 1970s and 1980s not only fully restored the country’s forest cover, but also delivered food security benefits and contributed to national economic development. These goals were achieved by integrating forestry, rural development and community mobilization in the rehabilitation policy. This study demonstrates how the rehabilitation plans incorporated food and nutrition objectives and how forest rehabilitation contributed to satisfying the four dimensions of food security − food availability, food access, food utilization and stability of food security. This experience may provide inspiration for other developing countries desiring to incorporate forest rehabilitation and sustainable forest management in their food security goals and policies. [more]
Regenerating forests and livelihoods in Nepal - A new lease on life 29 February 2016 This book seeks to capture the leasehold forestry experience, with a special focus on the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme, which has been a critical part of the leasehold forestry experience in Nepal. It will describe the origins and evolution of the various leasehold forestry programmes and projects that have been launched in the country, as well as their objectives, components and activities, and concrete outcomes and impacts. However, it will also emphasize the story behind the numbers and the individual lives that were impacted by the initiatives. Testimonies are a strong element of the book, as they reveal the on-the-ground results of the leasehold forestry experience: What was successful and why? Why did some things work well and others not? Testimonies come from programme, project and government staff and, most importantly, the farmers themselves. [more]
Forty years of community-based forestry: A review of its extent and effectiveness 29 February 2016 This publication is FAO’s first comprehensive look at the impact of community-based forestry since previous reviews in 1991 and 2001. It considers both collaborative regimes (forestry practised on land with formal communal tenure requiring collective action) and smallholder forestry (on land that is generally privately owned). The publication examines the extent of community-based forestry globally and regionally and assesses its effectiveness in delivering on key biophysical and socioeconomic outcomes, i.e. moving towards sustainable forest management and improving local livelihoods. The report is targeted at policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, communities and civil society. [more]
Assessing and promoting trees outside forests in Asian rice production landscapes 19 December 2014 Planted or naturally regenerated trees scattered throughout rice production landscapes or in and around agricultural plots, in the pilot sites and elsewhere, have proven to be excellent sources of goods and services to increase the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of agricultural landscapes. [more]
Forests for Food Security and Nutrition 17 December 2013 Food security requires healthy, diverse ecosystems, and forests and trees outside forests therefore have an important role to play. To explore this role, FAO and its partners brought together, in May 2013, more than 400 experts from governments, civil-society organizations, indigenous and other local communities, donors and international organizations from over 100 countries for the first global conference to specifically address the role of forests and trees outside forests in food security and nutrition – the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. This edition of Unasylva presents articles arising from that conference. [more]


Contribution of forests to improved livelihoods,
poverty reduction and food security

Fred Kafeero, Forest Officer on Participatory Forestry, FAO

Duration: 5 min Format: mp3

Vietnam reclaims forest land with help from FAO

Duration: 4 min


last updated:  Monday, October 17, 2016