State of the World's Forests


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the director, Publications division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

©FAO 1995
Designed and produced by Words and Publications, Oxford, UK
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.

State of the World's Forests


Part 1
Evolution of forest policies and future directions

Evolving forest policies

Forest policies and sustainable development

Forests in national policy

Forests, trade and the environment

Forests and future directions

Developments in community forestry

Capacity development

The international dimensions

Part 2
Forests, economic development and the environment

Forest products and services

Forests as a source of national development

The economic contributions of forests

World trade patterns in forest products

The outlook for the forestry sector in the economy

The state of forest resources

Forests in the tropical zone

Forests in the temperate zone

Forest plantations

Forest management for wood production

Forest management for conservation

Annex 1

Annex 2
European forests and forestry

Annex 3
An overview of the forestry situation in Latin America and the Caribbean


Forests are complex ecosystems capable of providing a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits. Forests provide products and services which contribute directly to the well-being of people everywhere and are vital to our economies, our environment and our daily lives. While forests and woodlands are now recognized as essential for human life, their benefits and services are valued differently by different people and different groups.

Moreover, the numerous roles that forests are expected to play in local, national and global development continue to change over time. These shifting and sometimes conflicting expectations create difficult policy challenges related to both the forest sector and national development.

Concern about forestry's evolving roles was the subject of intense debate at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992. UNCED highlighted forestry development and environmental issues by developing a set of ‘forest principles’, devoting a chapter of its programme of action, Agenda 21, to combating deforestation (Chapter 11) and focusing on the importance of non-wood functions of forests in the biological diversity and climate change conventions.

A number of countries have launched specific international initiatives to follow up on UNCED forestry recommendations. This broad consensus on principles of sustainable forest management represents the first-ever commitment of responsibilities beyond national boundaries. Turning these principles into practice, however, presents a more formidable task.

At its 12th Session in March 1995, the Committee on Forestry plans to review progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 and to discuss the major forestry issues to be considered by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its third session in April 1995. The purpose of this statement on the state of the world's forests is to summarize the main areas of factual information and present some of the important policy issues facing the international community.

This presentation brings together information from the Global Forest Resources Assessment 1990, the FAO Yearbook of Forest Products, the 1994 State of Food and Agriculture special chapter, ‘Forest Development and Policy Dilemmas’, the Forestry Chapter of Agriculture Towards 2010 and The Challenge of Sustainable Forest Management. These FAO reports analyse the state of forest resources and the role of forests in sustainable development, and provide background information for FAO's report to the Secretariat of the Commission on Sustainable Development. This statement on the state of the world's forests presents a synthesis of this background information. It also includes two regional reviews, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, which were prepared in the context of recent FAO regional forestry meetings. Reviews of forestry in other regions will be included in future editions.

For further information, please contact:

Forestry Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, Italy

Fax: (39-6) 5225 5137
Telex: 625852 FAO I