Promoting sustainable management of forests and woodlands

SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT aims to ensure that the goods and services derived from the forest meet present-day needs while at the same time securing their continued availability and contribution to long-term development. In its broadest sense, forest management encompasses the administrative, legal, technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the conservation and use of forests. It implies various degrees of deliberate human intervention, ranging from actions aimed at safeguarding and maintaining the forest ecosystem and its functions, to favouring specific socially or economically valuable species or groups of species for the improved production of goods and services

Many of the world's forests and woodlands, however, especially in the tropics and subtropics, are still not managed in accordance with the Forest Principles adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992). Many developing countries have inadequate funding and human resources for the preparation, implementation and monitoring of forest management plans, and lack mechanisms to ensure the participation and involvement of all stakeholders in forest planning and development. Where forest management plans exist, they are frequently limited to ensuring sustained production of wood, without due concern for non-wood products and services or social and environmental values. In addition, many countries lack appropriate forest legislation, regulation and incentives to promote sustainable forest management practices.

FAO helps member countries overcome these constraints through the provision of information and policy advice and through institutional and technical capacity-building activities. FAO collects, analyses and disseminates information; prepares manuals and guidelines; and organizes workshops and seminars that facilitate the dissemination of best practices and the exchange of experiences. Field projects are implemented in all types of natural forests. They also address emergency situations caused by natural disasters or the adverse effects of human activities, and offer opportunities for hands-on training.

At the national level, FAO supports initiatives for the development and implementation of criteria and indicators to define clearly the elements of sustainable forest management and to monitor progress towards it. At the field level, FAO helps identify, test and promote innovative forest management approaches and techniques, e.g. through support for model and demonstration forests.

last updated:  Wednesday, July 6, 2011