FAO: we are ready for a new relationship with the forest

FAO, the UN’s food and agriculture organization, has recently launched the flagship report The State of the World’s Forests 2018 (SOFO 2018) which analyses the role that forests and trees – and the people who use and manage them – can play in helping countries achieve their objectives and bring about a brighter future. The report also shows the links to the Sustainable Development Goals.

René Castro-Salazar is the Assistant Director-General for the Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department at FAO. He is optimistic about the future, and one of the reasons is the finding that the trade-offs between different needs in the Sustainable Development Goals are not as big as the general belief has been before.

Increase forest cover and produce more food

-In the past there was a myth that you either used the land to produce food and agriculture or kept the forest standing, but now we show in our report that it is possible to do both. Some 20 countries in the world, from big ones like China to small ones like Costa Rica – they have managed to produce more food to provide nutrition to the people, and increase the forest cover. So that is destroying the myth of 'in order to produce more food you have to use more land and compete with the forest'. Now we have shown that it is possible to grow and create jobs while at the same time preserve biodiversity for the longer term. Science is needed, facts are needed, and then of course implementation, Mr Castro explains.

Scandinavian forest nations can support the work of FAO in this field and and share know-how and experience to other parts of the world.

-They have helped other countries like Costa Rica and other nations in the tropics to understand how the forests work: the interaction between animals, other plants, to not waste wood. Now, I think it's time for a second phase: to show that it's still important to preserve the forest, but we have enough knowledge now to use it in a sustainable way. So by looking at the Swedish houses and bridges made of wood engineers and architects in other parts of the world will learn how to use wood in a sustainable way. We are comfortable now about that possibility and mature to start developing a new relationship with the forest, the wood and other materials that could be extracted in a sustainable way. Sweden is a leader in that, and could lead the way, says Mr Castro.

Sustainable Wood for a Sustainable World

FAOs forestry committee, COFO, has developed an initiative called "Sustainable Wood for a Sustainable World". This initiative shows how different forest based value chains can contribute to well-being and sustainable growth. To quote the initiative "A forest with a value stays a forest".