Governments, Civil Society, Private Sector to Enhance Forests' Contributions to Nutrition


Human Wrongs Watch

Rome – Globally, millions of people depend on forests for their livelihoods – directly through the consumption and sale of foods harvested in forests, and indirectly through forest-related employment and income generation, forest ecosystem services, and forest biodiversity, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 16 May 2013 said*.

Photo: UN Forum on Forests/Fendi Aspara | Source: UN

Photo: UN Forum on Forests/Fendi Aspara | Source: UN

Forest foods, such as leaves, seeds, nuts, honey, fruits, mushrooms, insects and other forest animals, have been important components of rural diets for millennia. An estimated 2.6 billion people rely on fuelwood, including charcoal, for cooking their food, FAO added.

“Governments, civil society and the private sector should ensure and strengthen the contributions of forests, trees and agroforestry systems to food security and nutrition, participants in the first-ever International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition (13-15 May), organized by FAO,” said the organization.

The conference participants agreed that small-scale forest producers should be encouraged to strengthen their involvement in agroforestry, tree‐growing, small‐scale wood processing and the provision of ecosystem services. Microfinance loans to small and medium-sized forest enterprises in many cases have resulted in gains  in family incomes and better health, nutrition and quality of life in rural areas, especially when microloans are given to women. Improved Access to Trees and Land The potential economic and environmental gains from secure land tenure are substantial, and tree tenure can also lead to fundamental improvements in land management. The conference stressed the need for improving access rights to trees and land to create significant incentives for farmers to engage in agroforestry, for example, by applying the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, which were recently adopted by the Committee on World Food Security. Forest Ecosystem Services Foster Food Production The conference highlighted the essential role of ecosystem services provided by forests and trees to agricultural production, which include protecting water and soil resources, contributing to soil development processes, including increasing soil fertility, regulating climate and providing habitat for wild pollinators and predators of agricultural pests. Forested wetlands and mangrove forests help protect coastal areas from flooding, thereby increasing the stability of food production in coastal lands. Forests also play vital roles in riverine and coastal fisheries, which are often particularly important to poor communities. Mountain forests provide vital ecosystem services, particularly “blue” fresh water for downstream forests and dependent communities. Cooperation According to the conference recommendations, it is essential to ensure that relevant sector policies, including those on agriculture, forests and trees, as well as food security and nutrition, are coordinated across sectors, and that all stakeholders, from forest‐dependent communities to ministries, are actively involved in their development and implementation. More than 400 participants attended the conference, including governments, civil-society organizations, local communities, donors and international agencies from more than 100 countries. Conference participants further encouraged FAO to promote the conference recommendations to the next sessions of the Committee on World Food Security and the Committee on Forestry, as well as to the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) to be held at FAO headquarters in Rome on 19-21 November 2014. *Source: FAO release.

Read also:

Forests, a Matter of Life or Death for 1.6 Billion People! Forests Can Play a Crucial Role in Improving Global Food Security, Nutrition 1.6 Billion People Depend on Forests, But… “As Long as There Is One of Us Standing, There Will Be a Fight to Protect the Forests” Have Destroyed the Amazon? No Problem, Forests Will Pay the Bill ‘How KFC Is Junking the Jungle’ God, What a Future! ‘Governments Spend $1.4 Billion Per Day to Destabilize Climate’ Politicians Promote Fossil Fuels with Half a Trillion Dollars a Year Save The Planet? Just Eat Cars, Drink Fuel! Big Business Suffocating Our Lungs All the Benefits of Amazon Plants and Foods in a UN Book Eighty Per Cent of World’s Forests Degraded, Destroyed

2013 Human Wrongs Watch

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