Giving Compass' Take:

• Sooyeon Laura Jin, writing for Food Tank, describes how forests can contribute to food security through the various uses of wood.

• What are the most prominent environmental threats to forests that would disturb sustainability?

• Read about the importance of forest restoration. 

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 the full article about the importance of forests for food security by Sooyeon Laura Jin at Food Tank.