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.
  • Non-wood forest products 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.
  • An estimated 2.6 billion people rely on wood fuel, including charcoal, for cooking. 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.


  • 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.     




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]
Towards food security and improved nutrition: increasing the contribution of forests and trees 15 July 2013 In May 2013, FAO, in partnership with Bioversity International, the Center for International Forestry Research, the World Agroforestry Centre and the World Bank, hosted the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. More than 400 participants attended the conference, comprising experts from governments, civil-society organizations, indigenous and other local communities, donors and international organizations from more than 100 countries. This policy brief has been produced on the basis of the sharing of information and knowledge that took place during the conference, and of the summary produced at its conclusion. [more]
Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security 14 May 2013 This publication describes the contribution of insects to food security. It shows the many traditional and potential new uses of insects for direct human consumption and the opportunities for and constraints to farming them for food and feed. It examines the body of research on issues such as insect nutrition and food safety, the use of insects as animal feed, and the processing and preservation of insects and their products. [more]
Forests for Improved Nutrition and Food Security 16 July 2012 Policy brief, 2012 [more]


Expert interviews

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


  Ousseynou Ndoye heads up a programme on forests and food security in Cameroon

  Responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forestry

Vincent Ndangang, Senior Technical Advisor within Cameroon's Ministry of Forests


last updated:  Friday, September 19, 2014