©Maria Francesca MatawaranFood security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. There are four criteria – pillars – that must be met simultaneously to meet food-security objectives: food must be physically available, economically accessible, and usable, and these three conditions must be relatively stable over time.
Some key facts about forests, food security and nutrition:
- Over 820 million people are undernourished globally, most of them in developing countries (State of Food Insecurity in the World 2019, FAO).
- Millions of people depend on food from forests and trees outside forests to increase the nutritional quality and diversity of their diets. About 2.4 billion people use woodfuel for cooking, mainly in developing countries.
- The harvest of food from forests is an important strategy, especially among the very poor, for coping with periods of food insecurity, such as those caused by natural disasters and war.
- Forests and trees outside forests are essential for agricultural production because they protect soil and water, maintain soil fertility, help regulate climate, provide habitat for wild pollinators and the predators of agricultural pests, and constitute a rich store of biodiversity of potential use in agriculture.
- Greater attention on forests and trees outside forests would therefore strengthen the four pillars of food security (availability, access, utilization and stability) while facilitating consumption of nutritionally adequate diets (in terms of quantity, variety, diversity and nutrient content).