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.


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]
Why does legal timber matter? The FAO FLEGT Programme has supported over 200 projects in 40 tropical timber-producing countries to improve forest governance and support legal timber trade. FAO works with the European Union (EU), member states, partner organizations and local stakeholders to help prepare timber-producing countries in Asia, Africa and South America to implement bilateral trade agreeements on legal timber with the EU. [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]


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Expert interviews

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]
Canada is a leader in sustainable forest management through innovative programmes Mary Beth MacNeil, Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada for the Canadian Forest Service, explains that Canada leads the world in the sustainable management of forests. [more]
Progress by Papua New Guinea leads to first forest reference level report for UNFCCC Gewa Gamoga, REDD and Climate Change Officer, PNG Forest Authority, Papua New Guinea, explains how work on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in his country included capacity building at the local level in the use of satellite land monitoring systems to collect data on deforestation, followed by the development of Papua New Guinea’s first National Forest Inventory. [more]
COFO 24 successful in clarifying relationships between forests and the Sustainable Development Goals Peter Csoka, Secretary of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), explains that the 24th session of COFO, which was held 16-20 July 2018, was quite successful in meeting its intention to clarify the relationship between forests, forestry and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [more]
FAO’s comparative advantages in global action on forest and landscape restoration Charles Barber of the World Resources Institute describes some of FAO’s comparative advantages that position it as a key player in a crowded landscape of global action on forest and landscape restoration. [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:  Friday, May 24, 2019