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.



 All sustainable forest management videos  



Unasylva 252: Restoring the Earth - The next decade 28 October 2020 This Unasylva issue aims at showcasing forest and landscape restoration (FLR) opportunities and recent developments that have the power to upscale restoration, in order to achieving the Bonn Challenge pledge and other national and international commitments and addressing the needs of the UN Decade 2021-2030 on Ecosystem Restoration. [more]
Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 21 July 2020 FAO completed its first assessment of the world’s forest resources in 1948. At that time, its major objective was to collect information on available timber supply to satisfy post-war reconstruction demand. Since then, the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) has evolved into a comprehensive evaluation of forest resources and their condition, management and uses, covering all the thematic elements of sustainable forest management. [more]


 More publications 

Press releases and editorials

COVID-19 brings good news and bad for sustainable wood production 6 January 2021 Before COVID-19 hit, increasing the production and use of sustainable wood was already a major challenge. Substitute materials, such as plastic, concrete and metal can be – at least on the face of it – cheaper. [more]
Better data, better decisions, better forests 14 October 2020 We all know that making good decisions requires good data. This is clear in our day-to-day lives. How can we choose what to wear in the morning without knowing whether it will rain or not? How would we find the way to work without a map? Why would we ever go shopping if we didn’t know that the fridge was empty? [more]
Legal and sustainable timber trade is essential to COVID-19 economic recovery 30 July 2020 The COVID-19 health crisis risks becoming a forest crisis. Measures to contain the impact of the virus have led to restrictions on movement and huge economic pressures. In these challenging times, many people in rural areas have turned to forests to meet their needs and for alternative sources of income such as wood, wild foods, fodder, and fuel. [more]

More press releases


Expert interviews

Forest and landscape restoration in Lebanon by Chadi Mohanna Chadi Mohanna, Director of Rural Development and Natural Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Lebanon Highlights the work that FLRM has done with the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon; Calls attention to the sixth Mediterranean Forest Week held in April 2019; and Describes Lebanon’s restoration ambitions. [more]
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]

More expert interviews


Hidden value of forests
 Taking action on halting and reversing deforestation - Interview with Peter Csoka, Senior Forestry Officer
Planning sustainable forests 
 Monitoring carbon stocks in Tanzania 


last updated:  Thursday, February 25, 2021