The Planted Forests Voluntary Guidelines: About

Planted forests account for only 7 percent of all forests, but are estimated to provide more than half of the world's industrial roundwood. There is increasing public awareness that wood products have advantages over competing products made of other materials (cement, plastics and metal) in that wood is renewable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly if managed responsibly. Planted forests can also provide important environmental and social services, such as rehabilitation of degraded lands, protection of soil and water, provision of shelter and shade and recreational and amenity in many areas. Management of planted forests and wood processing provide considerable employment. The benefits of planted forests to economies and livelihoods are significant throughout the world.

In the past, planted forests have not always lived up to their potential. Lack of knowledge, capacity and capability in providing enabling policies, laws, regulations, plans, technical support and management systems has too often resulted in poor performance and conflict. Some planted forest investments have created land-use, social and environmental conflicts, as well as suboptimal performance in the areas of health, vitality, productivity and return on investment. Planted forests are sometimes questioned as they modify ecosystem functions and affect local livelihoods.

In response to member country requests, FAO worked with member countries and a wide variety of partners to develop a non-legally binding planted forests voluntary guidelines (formerly known as the planted forests code) to link international, national and local enabling environments. The two-year multistakeholder process involved experts in planted forests from governments, the private sector (corporate and smallholder), non-governmental (social and environmental) and intergovernmental organizations and academics. The voluntary guidelines are tailored for policy, planning and management decision makers in the Government, private sector or non-governmental organizations to balance the social, cultural, environmental and economic dimensions of planted forest management and to increase their contributions towards sustainable livelihoods and land use. The voluntary guidelines include guiding principles for policy, legal, regulatory and other enabling conditions, and thus provide a framework for responsible planning, management and monitoring of planted forests.

The scope of the voluntary guidelines include the planted component of semi-natural forests and plantation forests, as well as the full spectrum of planning, management and monitoring activities for both productive and protective functions.

The voluntary guidelines have been prepared for presentation to the Eighteenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) in March 2007 for their consideration and appropriate actions.

last updated:  Tuesday, January 19, 2010