Collaborative Partnership on Forests calls for halt to deforestation

A group of 15 international organizations working on forestry today issued a joint statement

27 April 2021, New York - A group of 15 international organizations working on forestry today issued a joint statement highlighting the need to halt the destruction of the world's forests.

Chaired by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) comprises UN agencies, four conventions and other organizations with substantial programmes on forests, and supports the work of the United Nations Forum on Forests and its member countries

In the joint statement released on the sidelines of the 16th Session of the UN Forum on Forests at UN Headquarters, the CPF outlined the impacts of deforestation as well as the opportunities and actions required to reverse it.

"Forests are a source of sustainable livelihoods, prosperity and resilience, and it is incumbent upon all of us in the forest sector to work together to halt deforestation and increase the world's forest area," said Mette Løyche Wilkie, Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and Director, Forestry Division, FAO. "Today we affirm our collective commitment to support the call of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to turn the tide on deforestation."

Deforestation and forest degradation continue at alarming rates, and are increasing in Africa. Since 1990, an estimated 420 million hectares of forest has been lost through deforestation globally, and 10 million hectares continues to be lost each year.

"The magic of focusing on protecting and restoring the diversity, abundance, and connectivity of life on earth is that - in doing so - we are also tackling hunger, poverty, pollution, and of course climate change. In fact, it is impossible to tackle any of these issues properly without helping nature recover," said Rt Hon. Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment, United Kingdom.

Deforestation and other land-use activities meanwhile account for 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"We will not meet our climate goals without meeting our forest goals," said Wilkie.

The CPF statement outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional pressure on forest resources and may result in a significant increase in deforestation. Healthy forests are essential to building back better and are also key in decreasing the risk of future zoonotic diseases, according to the statement.

The CPF sets out the challenges and the opportunities involved in halting deforestation, noting that it needs action beyond the forest sector - including by transforming agriculture and food systems to address the main driver of deforestation: the conversion of forests to agricultural land.

"Feeding a growing world population and halting or even reversing deforestation are not mutually exclusive," said Wilkie. "We can achieve both through a range of actions, including more balanced land-use planning, sustainable intensification of agriculture, restoring the productivity of degraded agricultural lands, stepping up public and private sector commitments to zero deforestation, and reducing food loss and waste."

While important public and private commitments to halting deforestation have been made, the CPF explains that implementation is lagging and needs to be accelerated if the goals are to be met. Progress on legal timber production and trade and strong forest governance are equally critical.

Ending deforestation is essential to confront the "quadruple planetary emergency", of a climate crisis, a nature crisis, an inequality crisis and a global health crisis, according to the CPF statement.

The statement aims to build momentum for forests ahead of the upcoming launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on World Environment Day (5 June) and the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow later this year.

The CPF's mission is to promote sustainable management of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end. The Partnership is the driving force for the implementation of the international forest agenda, providing technical and policy guidance and spearheading a coherent effort to meet global forest goals.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano / FAO
Farmers returning to the village after harvesting firewood from the nearby forest in Goulbi, Niger.