Science for Policy


New Findings on the Dynamics between Forests, Land Use and Food Security

Faced with a continuously expanding global population, particularly in developing countries, securing sufficient food for over 9 billion people by 2050 is of prime concern.

An IUFRO-led Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) is currently working at a comprehensive assessment of scientific knowledge about the role of forests and trees for food security and nutrition, which will be presented at UNFF11 in May 2015.

At a joint IUFRO/CIFOR session on 7 December 2014 at the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Peru, coordinating lead authors of the assessment presented "New findings on the dynamics between forests, land use and food security". Their discussions with prominent representatives from diverse stakeholder groups and the audience focused on three main questions:

  • Do prevailing paradigms comply with scientific evidence and discourse around the role of food production systems across the forest-agriculture continuum for food security and nutrition?
  • How do social, economic and environmental drivers, such as climate change impact on forest and tree-related food systems?
  • What are the resulting synergies and trade-offs between different land uses and what are the response options from a dynamic and integrated landscapes perspective?

Emerging findings:

There is increasing scientific evidence of the importance of forests and tree based food systems for contributing to dietary diversity and quality and their role in addressing food and nutritional security. In addition to the role of forests as a direct source of people’s diets, income from non-timber forest products and agroforestry tree products provide significant benefits for national economies as well as livelihoods of, often the more vulnerable, impoverished smallholders in tropical regions.

Diverse forest and tree-based production systems offer advantages over permanent crops because of their adaptability and resilience. There are also a multitude of ecosystem services provided by forests and trees that simultaneously support food production, sustainability and environmental and human health. Managing landscapes on a multi-functional basis that combines food production, biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of ecosystem services provides opportunities to achieve food and nutritional security.

Deforestation and forest degradation, combined with climate change, will impact directly on the availability of food. Co-regulatory approaches between public and private sector actors and voluntary sustainability standards can markedly improve forest protection and food security if smallholders are actively involved.

Discussion forum website:

GFEP Presentation in Discussion forum

GFEP Panel on Forests and Food Security:


<- Back to: Science for Policy