Managing forests for sustainable growth
Forests are one of the most mismanaged resources in many countries. This is partly because forests are seriously undervalued and many of their environmental benefits are not captured by market values. Uncoordinated policies (for example agriculture, energy, mining and transportation policies) also affect forest cover. And poor governance has fueled corruption, rent-seeking and illegal activities.
At the same time, forests have a critical role to play in green growth. Forests can help meet the growing demands for food, fiber, biofuel, shelter, and other bio-products as the world population increases to 9 billion people by 2050. Because forest resources are solar-powered,renewable, and store carbon as they grow, they also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change by taking the place of nonrenewable materials andsubstituting for fossil fuels. The forest sector is also an important source of both formal and informal jobs, particularly in remote areas where there are few economic alternatives.
The World Bank and the Program on Forests, housed at the Bank, help governments steer economic policy in a “forest-friendly” way. Improving the governance of the forest sector so that it is more transparent and accountable is also a priority. Because private sector investment in the forest sector in developing countries is seven times greater than the total official development assistance (about $US1.5 billion) for the forest sector, it is essential to engage the private sector – including small and medium forest enterprises – to achieve inclusive green growth.