Forests and people

For most people living in the world's rural areas, especially the poor, forests and trees provide crucial services. About 1.6 billion people worldwide are relying heavily on forest resources for their livelihoods. One quarter of the world's forests is in mountain areas. Mountain forests play a crucial role for mitigating risks of natural disasters by preventing the valleys from floods, landslides and avalanches. In addition, mountain forests are fundamental for securing a balanced flow of water and maintaining the quality of freshwater. Equally, they are important sources of wood for cooking and heating and of non-wood forest products (fruits, mushrooms, medicinal plants etc.) both in mountains and in the surrounding lowland areas. Non-wood forest products contribute to diversification of the often unbalanced nutrition of mountain people and constitute important alternative sources of income.

Currently FAO is addressing the challenges of sustainable mountain - and mountain forest - development with a wide range of activities focusing on participatory forestry and sustainable livelihoods, forests for poverty reduction and food security.

last updated:  Wednesday, October 24, 2012