Opening Ceremony of the XV World Forestry Congress.*
Photo: © FAO/Jongwon Choi

World Forestry Congress

From 2015 to 2020, deforestation and forest degradation continued to take place at the alarming rate of nearly 10 million hectares per year. Under the topic “Building a Green, Healthy and Future with Forests” participants at the World Forestry Congress discussed how forests can be used more sustainably in future.

“Wood is one of humanity’s most ancient raw materials but can take us into the future” participants from 141 countries stated in the Seoul Forest Declaration at the 15th World Forestry Congress that took place in Seoul, Korea, from 2–6 May 2022. 

In the Declaration they pledged that “Forest-based solutions must be inclusive of the perspectives of family farmers, smallholders, forest communities, Indigenous Peoples, women and youth and respectful of their rights, and they must empower them to participate equitably in decision-making and sustainable forest value chains”.

Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood

Sustainable wood has huge potential as a cost-effective solution in sectors including construction, furniture, packaging, renewable energy, biomaterials for clothing and biochemicals was the statement made by ministerial representatives with environmental and forestry responsibilities in a joint call to action following a Ministerial Forum on Sustainable Wood at the Congress.

Ministers underlined the need to base increased use of sustainable wood on sustainable forest management – including restoration and afforestation efforts - in order not to compromise forests’ multiple essential roles, including for climate, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The ministerial call outlined four areas for action to scale-up sustainable wood-based pathways:

  • to address the lack of awareness of their potential;
  • to enhance global and regional policy dialogues on pathways and related synergies and trade-offs and ways to strengthen investments;
  • to improve modalities to promote technical exchange, sharing of experiences and learning in order to drive innovations, from sustainable forest management and efficient wood value chains to sustainable wood use;
  • to significantly increase the use of sustainable wood-based solutions within Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030.

The ministers committed to drive forward a global effort to enhance policy and technical dialogue and exchange between producer and consumer countries and key stakeholders to develop momentum and actions at scale.

Towards a better wildfire management

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned in a report published in February 2022 that wildfires are projected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change and land-use changes. The report states that wildfires will become around 50 per cent more frequent by the end of the century.

A one-day Fire Management Forum at the World Forestry Congress brought together global experts and stakeholders to accelerate multisectoral cooperation and integrated approaches for preventing and managing forest fires. The forum covered the different approaches to forest fires, including cross-boundary fire management and collaboration and community-led forest fire management.

At the forum, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched a new mechanism that will enable countries to better understand, manage and affront forest fires: the Assuring the Future of Forests through Integrated Risk Management (AFFIRM) Mechanism.

 “This mechanism will help countries to focus on strategies to prevent extreme fires from happening in the first place, rather than concentrating resources on putting fires out once they’ve already started,” Senior FAO Forestry Officer Amy Duchelle points out.

The global mechanism will be piloted in three Asian countries, where it will trial the implementation of integrated risk management practices using the skills and expertise of the Korea Forest Service.

While still currently under development, the Global Fire Management Platform was announced during the Fire Management Forum by senior officials from FAO and UNEP. The platform aims to respond to countries’ demands to reduce the negative impacts of wildfires on livelihoods, landscapes and global climate stability.


*(L to R) Choi Byeong-am, Republic of Korea's Forest Service Minister, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan and  International Forestry Students' Association President Magdalena Jovanovic during the Opening Ceremony of the XV World Forestry Congress. 

More information:
Visit the World Forestry Congress website
Read the Seoul Forest Declaration
Read the Ministerial Call on Sustainable Wood
Read more on the Ministerial Forum on Sustainable Wood
Read more on the Fire Management Forum

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