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.