Integrating nutrition into the curricula of agriculture education institutions is vital to achieve improved Food Security and Nutrition (FSN). By the same token, it would be equally important for a similar approach to be taken into consideration in the forestry sector in parallel. FSN should not only be integrated in agriculture education, but also in forestry education.

Forests cover one third of the earth’s land surface. It is estimated that over 2.4 billion people worldwide depend on forest goods and services for the direct provision of food, wood fuel, building materials, medicines, employment and cash income.

In particular, fuelwood, income, and ecosystem services are essential contributions of forests to FSN. About one third of the world population use fuelwood for cooking their food, and 750 million people use wood to boil their water to make it safe for drinking. Forests generate income for local people through the sale of wood and non-wood products. Wild forest foods provide nutritious food supplements to millions of rural people. Wild animals and edible insects from forests are often the main source of protein. Forest foods are a regular part of rural diets and serve as safety nets in periods of food scarcity. They also provide essential ecosystem services that support sustainable agriculture by regulating water flows, stabilizing soils, maintaining soil fertility, regulating the climate, and providing habitat for wild pollinators and the predators of agricultural pests.

The understanding of the role of forests in FSN is often overlooked, including in the field of forestry education. It would be of paramount importance for the forestry students (future forestry workers) and extension workers to receive relevant trainings on FSN as part of their forestry education curricula.

Indeed, forests and their roles in FSN will remain vital as an integral part of our livelihoods for a long time. In light of the Sustainable Development Goals, we are now heading toward “sustainable” food security and nutrition. Sustainable forest management practices that reflect the important aspects of FSN will enable us to achieve both sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture simultaneously.

Forestry workers with adequate knowledge on FSN issues will be able to further develop their capacity on improving forest management practices in line with their own FSN context. Such an approach could eventually lead to improved FSN of rural populations by unlocking forests’ full potential without jeopardizing them.

Forestry colleges and higher education institutions should further include education components on the complex and rapidly changing dynamics between communities and forests.  Concepts such as the “hidden hunger”, the importance of the biodiversity for diversified diets, and multiple health and nutrition properties of edible forestry products should be studied in depth. This way, forests can have the future they deserve, just as much as we deserve to be in a place with sustainable food security and nutrition.