The International Day of Forests is a reminder of the valuable role forests play for people and the planet. Forests provide an important source of income for the rural poor, offer solutions to the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change and meet the demands of a rapidly-growing global population.
Forests for People
Forest goods provide an important hidden harvest for rural populations, keeping many people out of extreme poverty. About 350 million people who live within or close to dense forests depend on them for their subsistence and income. Forests are an important aspect of rural livelihoods, with households living near forested areas deriving as much as 22 percent of their income from forest sources. This contribution is greater than that of wage labor, livestock, self-owned businesses or any other category aside from crops.
Forests support rural economies in many countries and create jobs and wealth for populations with few alternative off-farm employment options. Forests produce more than 5,000 types of wood-based products, and generate an annual gross value add of just over US$600 billion, about 1% of global GDP (in some countries that contribution is much higher, reaching for example 6% of GDP in Cameroon).
We also know that the right incentives need to be in place for communities and governments to sustainably manage forests. For over a decade, the World Bank has been developing programs that provide benefits for reducing emissions from deforestation and broader land use. These programs take a landscape approach to address the underlying drivers of forest and land degradation and have catalyzed exciting new initiatives and partnerships between governments, local communities, civil society and the private sector. To achieve global climate targets, we will need to push even further to scale up these results-based emission reductions programs.