According to the State of the World’s Forests (SOFO) 2016, while agriculture remains the most significant driver of global deforestation, there is an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security.
This FAO report published in July 2016 shows that it is possible to increase agricultural productivity and food security while halting or even reversing deforestation. The report highlights the successful efforts of Costa Rica, Chile, the Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Tunisia and Viet Nam. Integrated land-use planning is the key to balancing land uses, underpinned by the right policy instruments to promote both sustainable forests and agriculture.
Agriculture accounts for the lion's share of the conversion of forests. According to the report, in the tropics and subtropics large-scale commercial agriculture and local subsistence agriculture are responsible for about 40 percent and 33 percent of forest conversion, respectively, and the remaining 27 percent of deforestation happens due to urban growth, infrastructure expansion and mining.
On the flip side of the coin, the report stresses that forests serve many vital ecological functions that benefit agriculture and boost food production.