Protecting the animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms that thrive in forests must become a fundamental goal of sustainable forest management worldwide, according to a new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Forests are home to most of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity; however, forests and their biodiversity continue to be lost at an alarming rate.
Deforestation is the largest driver of valuable biodiversity loss, with around 10 million hectares lost to deforestation each year, mostly to agricultural expansion.
Other threats include excessive logging, invasive species, climate change, desertification, and forest fires.
“The conservation of global biodiversity depends entirely on how we interact with and use the world’s forests,” said Tiina Vähänen, Deputy Director of FAO’s Forestry Division, of the Integrating Biodiversity in Forestry report, which was presented at the 8th World Forest Week in the margins of the 26th Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry.
Inspiring Action The world’s forests provide habitats for approximately 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species and 68 percent of mammal species.
Furthermore, about 60 percent of all vascular plants are found in tropical forests.
The critical importance of sustainable forest management in halting deforestation and forest degradation, and the associated decline in the supply of ecosystem services, is widely recognized.
But, says the report, much more needs to be done to ensure that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are integrated at all levels of forest management.
The report assesses tools and methods to ensure that the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are integrated into forest policy, strategy and management.
The report recommended several measures and actions that governments and development partners can take to facilitate the integration of biodiversity into forest management: Halt and reverse deforestation Combat illegal and unregulated forest activities Recognize people’s forest tenure and local communities Avoid conversion of natural forests to monospecific forest plantations Ensure sustainable management of harvested species Manage and control invasive and overabundant species Harness the global restoration drive to enhance biodiversity conservation Adopt a multisectoral perspective Provide incentives economic Facilitate market-based instruments Invest in knowledge and capacity building “We hope that the The wealth of information and recommendations made in this study will inspire action by those involved in the management and forest conservation,” said Kenichi Shono, FAO Forestry Officer, who supported the preparation of the report.
FAO Strategy for Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agricultural Sectors The role of forests in maintaining biodiversity is explicitly recognized in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and, in 2019, FAO adopted the Strategy for the integration of biodiversity in the agricultural sectors.
The new report was commissioned as part of a review of progress around the world and to inform future efforts in forestry.