FAO has just published ‘State of the World’s Forests 2014’. The report – available here, along with various other briefs – looks a the potential that the world’s forests, trees on farms, and agroforestry systems have in supporting the livelihoods of rural people by providing employment, energy, nutritious foods and a wide range of other goods and ecosystem services. There has been a lack of clear evidence of this, which the report seeks to address by systematically gathering and analyzing available data on forests’ contributions to people’s livelihoods, food, health, shelter, and energy needs.
The report touches on a number of key issues:
- The importance of wood fuel: Wood fuel, as a primary energy source for many (particularly rural) people, is highlighted in this edition, with a call for sustainable management – as an alternative to the illegal wood fuel/charcoal trade;
- Improving access: 26 countries are engaging in tenure reform, mainly in support of local livelihoods. Securing tenure rights for investors is advanced later in the document as being essential to the flow of investments in the forestry sector;
- Creating enabling environments to encourage investments: The report specifically mentions IPs, stating the need for them to be involved in consultations. However, only Canada has a specific policy supporting IP investment in forest resources. There is a call for more support for local and indigenous investment;
- TK & Benefit sharing: A small number of countries address Forest TK in national forest policies, with some having already taken steps under the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, but progress is limited. The report calls for the development of ABS in partnership with communities, and measures to recognize the sociocultural dimensions of sustainable forest management;
- Ecosystem services and values of forests: The report mentions environmental accounting frameworks being developed by some countries, and the growth of PES. It recommends “stronger recognition of services provided by forests, and payment mechanisms to ensure sustainable provision”, thus advancing the UN Green Economy agenda.