FAO's work on SFM

FAO's approach to SFM

FAO’s approach to SFM implementation is based on the Forest Principles, which were included in Chapter 11 of Agenda 21, adopted by nations at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. FAO’s support is linked to the seven thematic elements defined by the United Nations General Assembly. Together with cross-cutting guidance, these principles and elements are observed in FAO’s normative work related to SFM, including in: various voluntary guidelines; documented and disseminated good practices; norms, standards, policy and legal frameworks developed with respect to forests and forestry; and global advocacy work.

 Intact forest of the Tilarán mountain range in Costa Rica. ©FAO/Giancarlo Pucci

Support for SFM implementation in FAO is people-centred and builds on society’s increasing awareness of environmental, social and cultural aspects, including participatory processes and gender equality. Interactions with other sectors, and the critical roles that forests and trees play in water production, soil conservation, climate-change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and bioenergy are well recognized, as are the significant contributions that forests and trees make to food security, sustainable livelihoods and the eradication of poverty. Progress towards sustainability is still limited and there is a need, therefore, to increase SFM, reforestation and forest restoration and to deploy agroforestry systems and other SLM measures in a holistic approach.

FAO’s focal work areas in forestry embrace global and regional forest-related policies and processes; national forest policies and institutions; information, monitoring and assessment; forest management; and forest products and economic aspects. FAO’s competence also includes cross-cutting areas such as natural resource management, land tenure, technological innovations, climate change and social dimensions, including gender.


FAO, together with partner organizations, is implementing a range of programmes that address various aspects of SFM. Some of the key programmes that contribute to improved forest management are described below.

  • Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism (FLRM)
    The FLRM aims to significantly contribute to scaling-up, monitoring and reporting on FLR activities to a level needed to meet the Bonn Challenge and Aichi Biodiversity Targets particularly Aichi Biodiversity Target 15. For this, it helps to coordinate and facilitate the development and implementation of projects, programmes and related activities in FAO member countries, in full collaboration with other key actors. 
  • Sustainable Wood for a Sustainable World (SW4SW)
    The SW4SW focuses on how to make the most of the myriad social, economic and environmental benefits that can be derived from sustainable wood and wood products. The aim is to improve forest production, a key element of sustainable forest product value chains.
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+)
    Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, plus the sustainable management of forests, and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+), is an essential part of the global efforts to mitigate climate change. The aim of REDD+ is to encourage developing countries to contribute to climate change mitigation efforts by: 1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by slowing, halting and reversing forest loss and degradation; and 2) increasing removal of GHGs from the earth’s atmosphere through the conservation, management and expansion of forests.
  • Forest and Farm Facility (FFF)
    The Forest and Farm Facility provides direct financial support and technical assistance to strengthen forest and farm producer organizations representing smallholders, rural women’s groups, local communities and indigenous peoples’ institutions. Collectively, forest and farm producers have the potential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to respond to climate change at landscape scales.
  • Mountain Partnership (MP)
    Working together for mountains peoples and environments The Mountain Partnership is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.
  • Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)
    The FAO–EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate illegal logging. With the support of its donors, the FAO–EU FLEGT Programme funds projects created by governments, civil society and private sector organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia to improve forest governance.
  • Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM)
    The SWM Programme sets out to develop sustainable solutions to guarantee food security. If hunting for wild meat is not managed at sustainable levels, then wildlife populations will decline and rural communities may suffer rising levels of food insecurity. 
  • The Forest Concessions Initiative (FCI)
    Forest concessions are legal instruments between the state and a private entity or a local community that confer rights to the latter to harvest timber or other forest products in the short term, or manage forest resources in the longer term in exchange for payments or the provision of services. FAO launched the first Voluntary Guidelines for forest concessions in the tropics to make concessions more transparent, accountable and inclusive, all for the benefit of some of the poorest and most isolated communities in the world.


Working with partners and donors, FAO provides technical support to a large number of field projects that promote SFM. Examples of ongoing FAO projects that specifically aim to improve forest management practices are provided below.  

last updated:  Tuesday, November 3, 2020