Food and Agriculture Statistics

New study estimates that the forest sector generates jobs for at least 33 million people


Forests and the forest sector are important sources of employment, livelihoods and incomes for millions across the globe, particularly in rural areas. They provide jobs in a wide range of activities related to sustainable forest management, the provision and production of timber and other wood and non-wood forest products, the protection of forest ecosystems and biodiversity, and safeguarding the benefits of forests.

On 29 November 2022, FAO launched the publication "Contribution of the forest sector to total employment in national economies - estimating the number of people employed in the forest sector". The study is the result of a joint effort between FAO, ILO and the Thünen Institute. It contributes to improve employment statistics by addressing methodological challenges and provides new evidence for decision-making.

The study applies a new wave-based method to estimate the number of people employed in the forest sector, based on ILO microdata. It reveals that approximately 33 million people were employed in the forest sector globally for the period 2017–2019, accounting for 1 percent of total employment, across all economic activities.

The proposed methodology helps to fill in data gaps and to improve understanding of a sector that is remarkably characterized by informality, particularly in developing countries. It highlights the need to strengthen efforts to ensure the availability of consistent and comparable statistical data on forest-related employment, including data disaggregated by gender. The study shows, for example, that women in the forest sector have a higher probability of having informal jobs than men, and their employment participation in forest-related activities remains low. 

The launch of the study builds on and moves forward discussions promoted throughout this year, such as the session at the XV World Forestry Congress on “Advancing decent work, green jobs and sustainability in the forest sector” and the special event at the 8th World Forestry Week/COFO26 on  “Beyond numbers: employment and decent work in forestry”.


Download the publication here.  


Visit the ILO blog on the publication here.