Policy Support and Governance Gateway
©Kenichi Shono/FAO

Sustainable Forest Management

Forests and trees make vital contributions both to people and the planet, bolstering livelihoods, providing clean air and water, conserving biodiversity and responding to climate change.

FAO helps countries manage their forests in a sustainable way.

The Organization's approach balances social, economic and environmental objectives so that present generations can reap the benefits of the earth's forest resources while conserving them to meet the needs of future generations. Following this approach, FAO assists countries in their efforts to address policy issues related to forests and climate change by integrating climate change considerations into national forest-related policies and actions.

The importance of forests in helping to achieve global sustainable development has been largely acknowledged by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. Seeking to enhance forests’ socio-economic and environmental benefits on a world-wide scale, FAO provides countries with the best available data, knowledge and practices to enable sustainable forest management.

Key policy messages

·        The world’s forests continue to be lost and degraded at alarming rates. By halting deforestation, managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded forests and increasing the global forest area, can help avoid potentially damaging consequences for the planet and its people. Governments need to foster holistic and participatory approaches that promote the benefits of forests and trees. Integrating landscape approaches into forest policies and programmes is essential for addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and to increase the contribution of forests and trees to sustainable productive landscapes.

·        Sustainable forest management is implemented through evidence-based policies and contributes to  sound solutions that provide multiple benefits: increased food production, generation of employment and income, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and enhanced wellbeing of both urban and rural communities.  SFM is essential to the planet’s health and productive future.

·        Governance is a fundamental  to the development and effective implementation of forest policy. Forest governance gains its power from including and maximally engaging all relevant forest stakeholders, such as formal and informal institutions, smallholder and indigenous organizations, small, medium-sized and large enterprises, and civil society organizations, as well as stakeholders from other relevant sectors. These actors should negotiate, make and enforce decisions about the management, use and conservation of forest resources.

·        Integrating forests and trees into sustainable development strategies requires effective partnerships and societal engagement. Clear legal frameworks and coherent policy measures that balance stakeholder interests are part of the required enabling environment. Evidence-based forest policy and programmes enhance a balanced delivery of environmental and socioeconomic benefits from forests and trees, and can harness forest contributions to achieve several SDGs, climate change objectives and the Global Forest Goals.

·        FAO provides active support and guidance to countries’ forest policy development, implementation and review processes at the national and regional levels.  Enhancing forest-and-tree-based solutions in agricultural, rural and urban landscape management can effectively address the triple challenges of food security, energy security and climate security, enhancing sustainable growth.

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