Forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems contribute to food security, nutrition and livelihoods in several ways, including as a direct source of food, fuel, employment and cash income. Such contributions are often under-estimated in policy decisions. What are the bottlenecks hindering a greater contribution of forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems to food security? Are there examples of innovative approaches or good practices? How can forests and trees feature more prominently in food security policies?
Enhancing the socioeconomic benefits from forests
Across the world, forests, trees on farms, and agroforestry systems play a crucial role in the livelihoods of rural people by providing employment, energy, nutritious foods and a wide range of other goods and ecosystem services. They have tremendous potential to contribute to sustainable development and to a greener economy. Yet, clear evidence of this has been lacking. This evidence is critical to inform policies on forest management and use, and to ensure that the benefi ts from forests are recognized in the post-2015 development agenda, not only with respect to the environment, but also for their contributions to broader social issues.
This edition of State of the World’s Forests addresses this knowledge gap by systematically gathering and analysing available data on forests’ contributions to people’s livelihoods, food, health, shelter and energy needs. Crucially, the report also suggests how information might be improved and policies adjusted, so that the socioeconomic benefits from forests can be enhanced in the future.
Brief based on the online discussion, held from 4 to 26 February 2013, facilitated by FAO’s Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) with FAO’s Forestry Department in the context of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition.
These guidelines are aimed primarily at all those involved in making policies at national and regional levels, such as decision-makers, civil servants and key policy advisors. Their function is to support increased recognition of agroforestry benefits, facilitate the development of policies promoting agroforestry systems and educate those that constrain agroforestry at the national level.
The guidelines present a set of principles rather than prescribed methods. They advise how to integrate agroforestry into policies, particularly helping countries to formulate policies for their specific conditions. They provide examples of good practices and success stories, as well as lessons learned from challenges and failures.
They are designed as an entry point for policy creation or change. In cases where agroforestry policy is completely absent, they can assist in creating awareness of agroforestry systems and show how, through innovative policy design taking trees, crops and animal production into account, policy issues can be addressed. In other cases, where agroforestry is recognized in policy frameworks, the guidelines can assist in improving the economic, social and policy context, so that incentives for practising agroforestry are strengthened.