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The role of forests in global food security

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 10.29.53 AM

April 4, 2021 at 10:29 am, Farmer’s Weekly, photo credit: Earth Rangers

The expansion of agriculture increases the risk of deforestation, which will not only have a negative impact on climate change mitigation, but also diminish food security for millions of desperately poor people. This report looks at the link between food security and forest ecosystems.

The world’s poorest people are generally more dependent on forest biodiversity and ecosystem services than are people who are better off. In low- and middle-income countries, human populations tend to be low in areas with high forest cover and high forest biodiversity, but poverty rates in these areas tend to be high.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that 252 million people living in forests and savannas have an income of less than US$1,25 [about R19,19] a day. Overall, about 63% of these rural poor live in Africa, 34% in Asia and 3% in Latin America.

Understanding the relationship between poverty and forest landscapes is crucial to global efforts to fight poverty and conserve biodiversity.

On the one hand, poverty reduction and income growth can increase the demand for land-intensive goods and production, and intensify people’s desire to convert forest to pasture, cropland and living space. On the other hand, rising income can change occupational patterns away from land-intensive production, increase the demand for recreation and environmental quality, and strengthen people’s ability and willingness to conserve nature.

The impact of these forces are shaped by institutions and policies.

Forests contribute to food security in several ways.
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