July 9, 2018
By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations has emphasised the importance of forest in its State of the World’s Forests (SOFO 2018) report.
The report released on Friday 6 July analyses the role forests and trees – and the people who use and manage them – can play in helping countries achieve their objectives and bring about a brighter future.
The SOFO 2018 shines light on the profound interlinkages that exist between forests and many other goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, which enables policymakers to strike the right balance in actions, investments and partnerships directed towards food security, poverty alleviation, ecological conservation and, ultimately, to find pathways to sustainable development.
“Forests and trees make vital contributions to both people and the planet, bolstering livelihoods, providing clean air and water, conserving biodiversity and responding to climate change,” the report states.
The report said forests act as a source of food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people across the world and that it helps to respond to climate change and protect soils and water.
It added that forests hold more than three-quarters of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and provide many products and services that contribute to socio-economic development which are particularly important for hundreds of millions of people in rural areas.
The report projected that the world population would increase from around 7.6 billion to close to 10 billion people by 2050, which indicates that the corresponding global demand for food would increase, thus the need to preserve the forest is of utmost importance to march the population.
“The corresponding global demand for food – estimated to grow by 50 percent during this period – is placing enormous pressure on the way we use productive land, particularly in developing countries where the overwhelming majority of the world’s 800 million poor and hungry people are concentrated” the report notes.
Meanwhile, the report states that deforestation which is chiefly caused by the conversion of forest land to agriculture and livestock threatens not only the livelihoods of foresters, forest communities and indigenous peoples, but also the variety of life on our planet.
The SOFO report says that the land-use changes result in a loss of valuable habitats, land degradation, soil erosion, a decrease in clean water and the release of carbon into the atmosphere.
“How to increase agricultural production and improve food security without reducing forest area is one of the great challenges of our times,” states the report.
The report notes that the livelihoods and food security of many of the world’s rural poor depend on vibrant forests and trees thus noting that evidence has showed that around 40 percent of the extreme rural poor – around 250 million people – live in forest and savannah areas.
However, Sierra Leone had witnessed flashfloods in the last three years which has been pegged to deforestation.
The new regime under President Bio initially banned timber logging which was applauded by many but lifted the ban in less than one month.