Time is running out for the world's forests, whose total area is shrinking by the day, warns the 2018 edition of the annual World’s Forests report, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in July.
Halting deforestation, managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded forests and adding to worldwide tree cover all require actions to avoid potentially damaging consequences for the planet and its people, according to The State of the World's Forests 2018.
Forests and trees contribute far more to human livelihoods than is commonly known, playing crucial roles in food security, drinking water, renewable energy and rural economies. They provide around 20 per cent of income for rural households in developing countries - notably more in many areas - and fuel for cooking and heating for one in every three people around the world.
This year's report documents just how essential forests are for 2030 Agenda objectives, ranging from tackling climate change to conserving biodiversity, reducing inequalities and improving urban habitats. It offers concrete proof of the multiple contributions forests make and maps pathways for them to do more.
The report emphasizes the importance of clear legal frameworks regarding forest tenure rights, applauds the growing trend in local governance, and calls for effective partnerships and private- sector engagement to pursue sustainable goals. Given that deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels, it notes that "corporate responsibility for zero deforestation is key."
While there is much work to be done, the publication points to numerous examples that indicate growing awareness of , and a gradual increase in sustainable practices regarding the world's forests and trees.
For example, more than 56 per cent of paper is recycled today, up from less than a quarter in 1970. Meanwhile, using discarded materials to make wood panels for construction has allowed production to grow four times faster than fresh timber requirements over the past two decades.
Report website and download of The State of the World's Forests 2018:www.fao.org/state-of-forests/en/