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FAO calls for better coordination between the two sectors towards sustainable farming systems and forest management

Photo credit: FAO

Agro-forestry farmers are tending to the crops in Kigoma, Tanzania. Forests are an integral part of the national agriculture policy with the aim of protecting arable land from erosion and increasing agricultural production.

 

Bridging the gap between forestry and agriculture to improve food security

While agriculture remains the most significant driver of global deforestation, there is an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security. This is the key message of the FAO’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO), presented today at the opening of the 23d Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO).

Forests play a major role in sustainable agricultural development through a host of channels, including the water cycle, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, natural pest control, influencing local climates and providing habitat protection for pollinators and other species.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change, recognizes that we can no longer look at food security and the management of natural resources separately,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his opening remarks to the Committee on Forestry.”Both agreements call for a coherent and integrated approach to sustainability across all agricultural sectors and food systems. Forests and forestry have key roles to play in this regard”.

“The key message from SOFO is clear: it is not necessary to cut down forests to produce more food,” he added.

Agriculture accounts for the lion’s share of the conversion of forests. According to today’s report, in the tropics and subtropics large-scale commercial agriculture and local subsistence agriculture are responsible for about 40 percent and 33 percent of forest conversion, respectively, and the remaining 27 percent of deforestation happens due to urban growth, infrastructure expansion and mining.

On the flip side of the coin, the report stresses that forests serve many vital ecological functions that benefit agriculture and boost food production.

Read the full article: FAO

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.