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Global Forests Play Complex & Multifaceted Role in Delivering Food Security

February 21, 2018 |

By Vinayaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published on Foodtank.

“The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 2017 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI) estimates that 815 million people go hungry every day, despite the fact that more than enough food is produced to feed us all. Feeding the world is the most important challenge of our generation and, as urged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need concerted efforts from all corners of the globe to eliminate hunger and food insecurity in our lifetime.

Many people think of hunger as not having enough (or any) food to eat, or having insufficient money for food, but the problem of food insecurity and hunger is far more complex. These factors, to list just a few, include adequate food production, healthy and safe cooking and eating practices, as well as sufficient nutrient intake to avert hidden hunger, or a lack of vitamins and minerals in daily diets.

How do forests fit into the picture of tackling food insecurity and hunger?

Although not so widely known, forests’ contributions to sustainable agriculture and improved food security and nutrition are vital. Covering one third of the earth’s land surface, forests are estimated to be a major resource for more than 2.4 billion people, who rely on forest goods and services for the direct provision of food, woodfuel, building materials, medicines, employment, and cash income.

Wood is used by about one-third of the world’s population to cook their food, while 750 million people use wood to boil water to make it safe for drinking. In economic terms, the sale of wood and non-wood products is valued at approximately US$730 billion globally, providing about 80 million people with an income. Moreover, forest foods are a regular part of rural diets and serve as safety nets in times of food scarcity. They include wild foods foraged from forests, which provide nourishment for millions of rural people, and wild animals and edible insects from forests which are often the main source of protein. Much of the world’s accessible fresh water comes from forested watersheds and wetlands, which supply 75 percent of domestic, agricultural, industrial, and ecological needs.

Forests also provide essential ecosystem services that support sustainable agriculture by regulating water flows, stabilizing soils, maintaining soil fertility, regulating the climate, and providing a viable habitat for wild pollinators and predators of agricultural pests. Forests are also key in regulating the climate. When managed sustainably, they can absorb about 10 percent of global carbon emissions, mitigating climate change and its impact on food production…”

Read on at: Foodtank.

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