Sustainable forest management

Key messages

  • Sustainable forest management curbs forest degradation and deforestation while increasing direct benefits to people and the environment.
  • At the local level, sustainable forest management contributes to people's livelihoods, income generation and employment. At the environmental level, it contributes to, for example, carbon sequestration and water and soil conservation.
  • In 2015, forests covered about 30.6 percent of the world's total land area; about 3 999 million hectares.
  • Forests contain more than half of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and store carbon in both above- and below-ground biomass.
  • The forest sector contributes about $600 billion annually to global GDP and provides employment to over 50 million people.
  • Extent of the world's forest continues to decline as human populations continue to grow and demand for food and land increases. Some 129 million hectares of forest - an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa - have been lost since 1990.
  • Fire, forest pests and climate change are also contributing to loss of forests around the world.


Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism FAO’s Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism (FLRM) programme was established to support countries to plan and carry out activities to restore degraded forest, crop, range and other productive lands, in order to improve the resilience, productivity and socio-economic value from restored landscapes. [more]
European forestry innovation: charting a path towards a green economy This film highlights how Finland is setting an example in sustainable forest management and how the many and varied innovations emerging from Finland's forestry sector can help, not only Finland, but the rest of Europe, in achieving the goal of greening their economies. [more]
Sustainable Forestry: a Safety-Net for Gambella Refugees and Host Communities An FAO project in the Gambella region is working to support the energy needs of the large refugee community, in order to reduce the negative impacts on local forest resources and alleviate the pressure on the host population. [more]
Boosting income and forest cover in Viet Nam Globally, agriculture remains the most significant driver of global deforestation. Yet in Viet Nam, food security and forest cover have both increased significantly in the last 25 years thanks to economic and agricultural reforms as well as an increased emphasis on community-based forest management. [more]


 All sustainable forest management videos  



Agroforestry and tenure This paper has been produced as a follow-up to the FAO guidelines "Advancing Agroforestry on the Policy Agenda - a guide for decision makers". The purpose of this document is to provide a review of the main tenure-related challenges that can affect agroforestry adoption to inform policies and project implementation. [more]
Making forest concessions in the tropics work to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Voluntary Guidelines The decision to develop a set of voluntary guidelines for forest concessions in the tropics, in the context of the 2030 Agenda, stems from the need to advance the implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM). In tropical countries, where deforestation rates are decreasing but remain alarming, and public production forests represent a large share of total production forests, the impact of forest concessions as a policy instrument can be significant. [more]
Managing forests in displacement settings This document aims to contribute on a sustainable forest management in displacement settings for building resilience and laying the basis for long-term solutions. In particular, well-planned forestry interventions can ensure a sustainable supply of woodfuel, timber and non-wood forest products for those communities, thereby helping ensure their well-being. [more]
Rethinking Forest Concessions This report forms part of a review aimed at providing advice on improving forest concession systems in tropical forests. he review was carried out by FAO in cooperation with the International Tropical Timber Organization, the Brazilian Forest Service, the Center for International Forestry Research and Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement. [more]
Managing heat in agricultural work This report reviews the implications of heat stress in working environments in agriculture (with a focus on farming and forestry), how it affects the human body, the risks it poses to human health, how it is measured, how it affects labour productivity, and how it can be managed. Heat stress has a negative effect on worker performance, and exposure to severe heat stress can be fatal; nevertheless, it can be greatly reduced with proper work organization and education. [more]


 More publications 

Press releases

FAO project will provide technical assistance to Moldovan authorities for conducting the first National Forest Inventory FAO project will provide technical assistance to Moldovan authorities for conducting the first National Forest Inventory [more]
Ingenious ways to cope with natural disasters: plant trees and harvest rain Small changes with great results: a new study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) analyzes good practices to face natural disasters in Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica, and seven other countries in the world. [more]
Forest monitoring made easier with new FAO, UNECE guideline Many communities in the Caucasus and Central Asia rely heavily on healthy forests for the social, economic and environmental benefits they provide. [more]
Stronger policy support needed to reap the benefits of growing trees near crops "Agroforestry isn't a ‘no man's land' between forestry and agriculture and should receive specific policy support," FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo said today. [more]

More press releases

Web stories & editorials


Urbanisation, commercial farms threaten Asia's forests, U.N. warns [more]
What if we can’t see the forests or trees? [more]


Expert interviews

Research and Development, Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) Dr Sarah Carter from the University of Wageningen explains how the Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) works to close the knowledge and technology gap between countries in the age of satellites. [more]
Innovative monitoring tools for effective ecosystem restoration Julian Fox comments on a recently published article in Science magazine highlighting how Open Foris was used by ETH Zurich and FAO to identify almost 1 billion ha for potential forest restoration worldwide. [more]
The challenges and opportunities of global forest and landscape restoration The challenges and opportunities of global forest and landscape restoration, and the role of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism [more]
African countries work to create incentives to reduce illegal logging with domestic market demands Public procurement policies which preference legally harvested and produced timber products have tremendous potential to create incentives throughout the supply chain and help foster a sustainable domestic market. [more]
Forest and land-use data for effective policy-making in Zambia Mindenda Pande, Principal Forestry Officer, Forestry Department, Republic of Zambia, describes progress on REDD+ and FAO-supported activities. Forestry is a priority development sector in Zambia and as a UN-REDD partner it is scaling up REDD+ efforts to protect its forests, enhance forest-dependent communities’ livelihoods and to contribute to climate change action. [more]

More expert interviews


The hidden value of forests
 Rome conference addresses challenges to forest sector - Interview with Peter Csoka, Senior forestry Officer at FAO
Planning sustainable forests 
 Monitoring carbon stocks in Tanzania 


last updated:  Thursday, August 1, 2019