What is UPF? An overview

Contribution of UPF to development

Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in towns and cities and this rate is expected to swell to 70% by 2050. Such growth will mainly occur in developing countries, particularly in the African and Asian regions, where poverty and related socio-economic issues are increasingly moving from rural to urban areas.

Evidence of the unsustainability of most cities’ growth, increasing inequity and gap between rich and poor, centres and peripheries, are now drawing the attention on the need to focus efforts towards a resilient, sustainable and equal development of urban regions. Coherent investments by communities and governments in the protection and restoration of urban forests, trees and green areas can make a real contribution to the creation of a healthy and resilient environment.

Meeting the needs of all the urban dwellers and ensuring their well-being in a sustainable way will necessarily need to involve UPF, a discipline that can help address many of the problems associated with urbanization. In fact, the list of benefits than can be provided by UPF is impressive, but too often overlooked. For instance:

  • UPF can help achieve food and nutrition security, and provide livelihoods
  • UPF can alleviate poverty
  • UPF can reduce risks of natural disasters
  • UPF can support climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies
  • UPF can create recreational, cultural and social opportunities

In spite of all these potential benefits, the management of urban and peri-urban forest has received limited attention and faces numerous challenges, in many cities and towns across the world, especially in developing countries. FAO is committed to the promotion and development UPF as an important component of sustainable urban development.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ©FAO/Sophie Laliberté


Through a multisectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, FAO supports the development of UPF actions, projects and strategic planning tools contributing to the promotion of a sustainable and resilient model of city development.

The FAO Forestry Department, through its UPF Programme, participates in the efforts to raise awareness and build knowledge about UPF by producing normative tools, putting information within reach, sharing policy expertise, providing a meeting place for nations, and bringing knowledge to the field. These activities reflect FAO’s vision and commitment to promote green, healthy and resilient cities for all.

last updated:  Wednesday, August 6, 2014