At present, many cities are facing the consequences and the problems resulting from unsustainable use of spaces, resources and energy in and around urban areas. The enormous growth of urban population recorded over the last decades across the planet, is creating new needs and demands, and is moving dramatic poverty to cities - guaranteeing food security and affordable fuel resources for cooking for all is one of the biggest challenges to be faced at the beginning of the so called Urban Millenium.
Urban and peri-urban forestry and agroforestry can have a crucial role in improving cities’ resilience and in facing the increasing poverty, lack of food security, air and soil pollution, and occurrence of human diseases in urban and peri-urban areas. Well designed and managed tree systems in and around cities can produce good quality food and non-food products (such as fruit, timber, wood fuel, natural medicine) thus improving incomes, nutrition security, as well as health conditions for all urban dwellers. The presence of trees and forests also improves the efficiency in watershed functioning and the quality of water, and therefore is essential in improving agro-pastoral systems in bordering lands. Furthermore trees can play a crucial role in providing fodder and shade to cattle, indirectly contributing to food security. By improving the food chains within cities, trees can also support the development of local markets and the generation of jobs and incomes for the local population. The resulting competitive price of local food would make it accessible also for vulnerable people, thus guaranteeing food and nutrition security to the poorest.
In rural areas as well, agroforestry can play a key role in improving food security, livelihoods and environmental stability. When designed and implemented correctly, agroforestry combines the best practices of tree growing and agricultural systems (crop and livestock), resulting in the best and most sustainable use of land.
Highlighting trees and nutrition security linkages is therefore crucial to face the challenge and reach one of the eight Millennium Development Goals: ending hunger and guaranteeing food and nutrition security to all. A multisectoral and multi stakeholder approach, involving practitioners, policy and decision makers, civil society, scientists, is required to cope with this challenge.
We would like to thank Forum moderators for creating space for dialogue on this most relevant topic, as well as everyone who contributed to the discussion. From 13-15 May 2013 the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition will be held at FAO, in Rome. The Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division is holding a side event on agroforestry policies for food security and climate change; we would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to attend both the conference and our side event.
Doug McGuire, Team Leader
Forest Resources Assessment Team
FAO Forestry Department
Links and resources:
International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition
Learning event on Agroforestry