On the 13th to 15th May 2013 the FAO hosted an International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition which aimed to increase understanding of the role that forests, trees and agroforestry systems can play in improving the food security and nutrition of rural people. 1985 was designated the year of forests and food security but since then it has disappeared off the international agenda.
Forests, trees and agroforestry are often forgotten in national food security strategies and yet 1.6 billion people rely on forests and other natural systems for food and their livelihoods. Forests and trees are important in a number of ways:
- They provide affordable sources of food, nutrients, fibre and fuelwood as well as sources of income
- They help deliver clean water to agricultural lands by protecting catchments
- Herders in arid and semi-arid lands depend on trees as a source of fodder for their livestock
- Agroforestry can improve productivity, resilience and is a climate-smart agricultural practice.
In order to fully realise the potential of forests in tackling food insecurity, issues of land tenure, access and sustainable extraction need further investigation and policy agencies of agriculture, environment, health, development, nutrition, conservation, land-use planning and forestry require greater integration. Background papers to the conference discuss the role of trees in the livelihoods of the poor and the enabling political environments needed to increase the contribution of forests to food security. [Read more...]