Forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems contribute to food security, nutrition and livelihoods in several ways, including as a direct source of food, fuel, employment and cash income. They are fundamental to the survival of forest-dwellers, particularly many indigenous peoples, and are important providers of ecosystem services, including maintaining or restoring soil fertility, protecting watersheds and water courses. For most of the year, herders in arid and semi-arid lands depend on trees as a source of fodder for their livestock. As habitat to an estimated 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, forests provide genetic material important for crop and livestock improvement and are home to many pollinator species.
Forests and trees help to mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing carbon. They can also help to reduce the vulnerability of people to climate change by providing food and other ecosystem services during critical periods of climate driven food shortages.
However the many ways in which forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems contribute to food security and nutrition are poorly understood, under-estimated and not adequately considered in policy decisions related to food security and nutrition.
In May 2013, FAO, together with its partners will organise the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition to increase understanding of the important role that forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems can play in improving food security and nutrition, especially in developing countries. The conference will also propose policy options that need to be undertaken at national and international level to better position the role of forests and trees in food security and nutrition decision-making processes.
Given the diversity of the FSN Forum membership, FAO would like to invite you to share experiences and views, by responding to the following questions:
- What are the key challenges and bottlenecks hindering a greater contribution of forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems to food security? These could be as diverse as policy, legal, institutional, practical skills, data etc.
- What are some concrete examples of innovative approaches, or good practices that increase the contributions of forests and trees to food security and nutrition goals?
- What is needed for food security policies and strategies to recognize the contributions and value that forests and trees bring?
The outcome of this online discussion will be used to enrich the deliberations at the conference and contribute to the final statement coming out of the conference.