Special Project on World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE)

WFSE is an open, global, network of scientists, experts and practitioners. It provides an independent platform for broad participation and collaboration. WFSE supports sustainable forest-related development, livelihoods and inclusive growth as well as related policy processes through international collaboration in knowledge generation and exchange. The network is steered by eleven international research and development organisations and universities. The coordination is provided by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).   

WFSE focuses on topics recognised by the scientific community as important and having significant policy implications but appear not to be receiving adequate attention from the policy community. WFSE addresses such topics in a holistic, interdisciplinary manner, producing science-based, future-oriented, policy-relevant information mainly focusing on two main efforts:  1) collating, critically analysing, and synthesising existing scientific knowledge on topics of international relevance in the forest, society, and environment interface in order to draw out important lessons learned and recommendations and 2) undertaking new research to fill in crucial gaps in existing knowledge.

WFSE produces and disseminates scientific publications, policy and information briefs, and capacity-building materials. Important science-based findings are presented in international forest-related meetings and conferences and disseminated to a wide audience of scientists, policy-makers and opinion leaders, professionals, and the public, including educational programs and organisations involved in forestry development activities.

All interested individuals and organisations are welcome to collaborate and contribute to the project's activities. The main criterion for accepting contributions is the scientific quality of the work.

IUFRO-WFSE gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Natural Resources Institute Finland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as well as the support and in-kind contributions of all IUFRO-WFSE partner organisations.

IUFRO-WFSE sponsors:

Logos of Sponsors of IUFRO-WFSE

IUFRO-WFSE partners:



The potential contributions of forests to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were explored before the SDGs were formally adopted and have since been further discussed. Continuing efforts are directed to gain a more thorough understanding of the contributions of forests to the SDGs and to identify strategies to enhance these contributions. However, little attention has yet been focused on possible and indeed likely impacts that efforts undertaken by different sectors to advance towards the 17 SDGs will have on forests, forest ecosystem services, forest-related livelihoods and human wellbeing. 

WFSE has initiated a comprehensive assessment of potential and anticipated impacts of efforts towards attaining the different SDGs on forests and forest-related livelihoods and development. The interdisciplinary assessment will focus on forest-related ecological, social and economic impacts of the SDGs. It will place special attention on interactions among the goals and their impacts on forests, forests use and forest-related livelihoods and policies and governance. In other words, the analysis will explore the synergies and trade-offs between the SDGs from the point of view of how they impact forest-related development in different contexts.

Understanding the potential impacts of SDGs on forests and forest-related livelihoods and development as well as the related trade-offs and synergies is crucial for the efforts undertaken to reach these goals. It is especially important for reducing potential negative impacts and to leverage opportunities to create synergies that will ultimately determine whether comprehensive progress towards the SDGs will be made.

The concept note of this publication includes the list of convening lead authors and editors of this publication.

WFSE Publications

Latest Publications

Special Issue: Shifting global development discourses - Implications for forests and livelihoods

This Special Issue in the International Forestry Review brings together 12 papers and an Editorial. It focuses on forest development discourses while taking into consideration broader development, climate change and conservation discourses. The papers place special attention on the drivers that lead to the emergence of the forest discourses and how they are reflected in forest policy, administration, management and forest development support.

The Special Issue confirms that forest development discourses are diverse, changing, and allow for the exploration of new options and opportunities for forest development initiatives. Each of the forest development discourses have clear linkages with major societal and environmental issues and thus with higher level meta- or even macro-discourses. The papers provide rich insights into current forest development thinking, and also into how this thinking is transmitted and shared. The papers also offer some glimpses into how contemporary forest development discourses influence what multiple actors do to regulate, administer and implement forest development.

The articles of the Special Issue can be downloaded here.

Building on synergies: Harnessing community and smallholder forestry for Sustainable Development Goals

This policy brief builds to a large degree on the work carried out by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations Special Project World Forests, Society and Environment (IUFRO-WFSE), and especially the following two publications:

Available for download here.       

Incentives and Constraints of Community and Smallholder Forestry

This Special Issue includes nine case study articles and an editorial. The papers draw on case studies from tropical Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They analyse community and smallholder efforts to achieve different forest related objectives and outcomes stemming from these efforts. They examine in-depth a number of relevant topics, such as the conditions shaping forest dependency, mechanisms through which rural livelihoods can be improved through forests, and implications for forest outcomes, when forests are targeted to support people's livelihoods, while also providing local and global environmental services. These concerns are of high relevance to debates exploring potential synergies and trade-offs between sustainable development and climate change. The articles link together two strands of the debate on community forestry by examining both local communities' and smallholders' dependency on forests and the contribution of forests to development.

The articles of the special issues are accessible at:

Issue Brief: Management of natural tropical forests for the future

Available for download in English.

Forests under pressure – Local responses to global issues

Katila, P., Galloway, G., de Jong, W., Pacheco, P., Mery, G. (eds.). 2014. Forests under pressure – Local responses to global issues. IUFRO World Series Volume 32. Vienna. 561p.

ISBN 978-3-902762-30-6

Building on 27 case studies from different parts of the world the book focuses on conditions that foster or hinder progress towards SFM and forest-related development. The case studies use a common analytical framework of prerequisite conditions to examine the implementation of SFM. The analysis allows distinguishing prerequisite conditions and combinations of conditions that foster or constrain progress towards SFM and sustainable local development, and the interactions among these conditions.

The chapters of the book can be downloaded here.

The complete publication is available for download here.

Issue Brief: Synergistic policies and measures are the key to advancing sustainable forest management and forest-based development

Available for download in:

Previous Publications

Policy Brief: Making Boreal Forests Work for People and Nature

(Policy brief 2012References)

Desafíos de los bosques amazónicos y oportunidades para el manejo forestal comunitario

Wil de Jong y Gerardo Mery (editores). 2011. CIAS Discussion Paper 20, IUFRO Occasional Paper 25. 55 p. ISBN 978-3-902762-11-5.

Available for download here

Policy brief: Making forests work for people and nature – Responding to global drivers of change.

Available for download in:
English, French and Spanish

Forest and Society – Responding to Global Drivers of Change

Mery, G., Katila, P., Galloway, G., Alfaro, R.I., Kanninen, M., Lobovikov, M. and Varjo, J. (eds.). 2010. IUFRO World Series Volume 25. Vienna. 509 p.
ISBN 978-3-901347-93-1

The chapters of the book can be downloaded here.

Summary presentations of the different chapters of the book can be downloaded here.

Asian Forests: Working for People and Nature. Policy Brief.

Available for download here.

Making Sub-Saharan Forests Work for People and Nature

(Policy brief 2009 - References)



Making Latin American Forests Work for People and Nature

(Policy Brief in English and Spanish - 2009)

Making European Forests Work for People and Nature

(Policy Brief 2007)

Forests in the Global Balance – Changing Paradigms

Gerardo Mery, René Alfaro, Markku Kanninen, Maxim Lobovikov (eds.). 2005.
IUFRO World Series Volume 17. Helsinki. 318 p.

ISBN 3-901347-55-0 ISSN 1016-3263

Summaries of "Forests in the Global Balance" chapters as Capacity Building Material, 2006

Policy Brief in 3 languages, 2005

  • Policy Brief: Forests for the New Millennium – making forests work for people and nature
  • Énoncé de politique: Des Forêts pour le Noveau Millénaire – des forêts à gérer dans l’intérêt des gens et la nature
  • Resumen de políticas: Bosques para el Nuevo Milenio – Bosques que beneficien a la gente y sustenten la naturaleza