Sustainable forest management

Forested landscape in Mongolia. ©FAO/Kenichi Shono

Sustainable forest management (SFM) is defined as a “dynamic and evolving concept, which aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests, for the benefit of present and future generations.” Forests and trees, when sustainably managed, make vital contributions both to people and to the planet, bolstering livelihoods, providing clean air and water, conserving biodiversity and responding to climate change.

FAO’s role in sustainable forest management 

Managing forests’ sustainably means optimizing their benefits, including timber and contributions to food security, to meet society’s needs in a way that conserves and maintains forest ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations.

Despite the significant progress made towards SFM at the global level, its implementation is highly variable, particularly in the tropics where the capacity to utilize or enforce SFM policies, laws and regulations remains uneven. Furthermore, other land uses such as agriculture are often financially more attractive in the short term compared to forest management, motivating deforestation and land-use changes.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helps countries overcome these challenges by providing policy advice, technical support and capacity building through field projects, workshops, and hands-on training. The Organization also helps countries in assessing their forest resources, defining the elements of SFM and monitoring their progress towards it. FAO helps identify, test and promote innovative, multipurpose forest management approaches and techniques that respond to the need for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate, increased demand for wood and non-wood forest products and services, and threats from fires, pests and natural disasters.

FAO promotes SFM by working at the international level and through collaborative partnerships to address and help solve regional and global forest-related issues.

Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox

FAO manages the Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox, a comprehensive online technical package of tools and examples to facilitate and guide the implementation of SFM in various contexts.  The Toolbox makes the wide body of collective knowledge and experience about SFM more accessible to forest managers and other stakeholders, thereby supporting SFM implementation on the ground.


Other resources


External links

last updated:  Wednesday, November 4, 2020