Planted forests key to achieving global goals – FAO journal

10 November, Nairobi - Well designed and sustainably managed planted forests have a vital role to play in meeting Sustainable Development Goals, according to the latest issue of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) forestry journal Unasylva #254, entitled Towards more resilient and diverse planted forests.

The new issue was launched today in Nairobi at the 5th International Congress on Planted Forests, co-organized by FAO.

Including science-based articles, interviews with leading global experts and public figures, and case studies from FAO’s field work, this Unasylva presents novel findings and state-of-the-art information on planted forests. These forests support livelihoods - including through timber production - while also providing ecosystem services, restoring degraded ecosystems, and adapting to and mitigating climate change.

“Planted forests are not always valued by all and their benefits are not as widely known as they should be,” said Zhimin Wu, Director, FAO Forestry Division. “However, sustainably managed planted forests are a winning strategy with huge benefits to humanity and the planet.”



More than just wood factories

Planted forests, which are forests predominantly composed of trees established through planting or deliberate seeding, comprise only around 7 percent of the world’s forest cover.

However, they were estimated in 2020 to contribute to around 46 percent of the global industrial roundwood timber supply, producing solid wood products for housing or furniture, pulp and fibre, and bioenergy.

With the global population projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050, tree planting is one of the nature-based solutions adopted by countries – along with increasing the productivity and resilience of existing forests – to meet growing demand for wood and other forest products as well as tackling deforestation and combatting climate change.

To enhance the contributions of forests and trees to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations has adopted a target to increase global forest cover by 3 percent by 2030 under its Global Forest Goals. Planting forests contributes to reaching that target.  

However, the planted forests of the future need to be managed as more than just wood factories, the journal explains. Instead, they need to be part of the solution for ecosystem restoration and creating sustainable, resilient mosaic landscapes.

Fast-growing trees also have a role in sustainable landscapes. A FAO policy brief, also published this week, entitled How can fast-growing trees optimize agroforestry benefits?, explains the environmental and socio-economic benefits of planting fast growing trees in agroforestry systems, and the role of the International Commission on Poplars and Other Fast-growing Trees Sustaining People and the Environment (IPC), a statutory body hosted by FAO that contributed to the preparation of Unasylva #254. 

About Unasylva

Unasylva is an international journal of forestry and forest industries and FAO's longest running periodical, existing since 1947. Its goal is to bring globally significant developments in forestry to a broad range of readers - such as policymakers, forest managers, technicians, researchers, students and teachers. 

Each issue involves authors from every region of the world and from a variety of academic and research institutions, other United Nations (UN) agencies, non-governmental organizations and civil society.

Unasylva #254: Towards more resilient and diverse planted forests was developed in close collaboration with a variety of partners, including the global research network on planted forests TreeDivNet and IPC, as a contribution to the IUFRO taskforce on resilient planted forests.

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last updated:  Monday, November 13, 2023