Trees can alleviate poverty

By | 2020-10-15T11:32:44+00:00 October 20th, 2020|

With the World Bank estimating that the spread of Covid-19 will push more than 100 million people into poverty and multiple reports pointing to rising forest loss and degradation globally, a new study by the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Poverty reveals that forests and trees have the enormous potential to slash poverty yet these benefits are at risk from rampant forest destruction and rarely reach those who need them most.

Forests can offer a critical safety net for the poor in rural areas. Image credit: Rainforest Alliance

Forests can offer a critical safety net for the poor in rural areas. Image credit: Rainforest Alliance

The reports points to a vicious cycle of forest destruction, disease and poverty and offers insight into how this cycle can be broken.

Pulling from examples from Africa, Asia and Latin America, the report lays out how forests and trees can generate incomes through enterprises like shea nut, cacao and bush mango production, sustainable logging and other forest- and tree-based industries. And it reveals how forests can offer a critical safety net for the poor in rural areas, sometimes providing their only source of water, food and medicine.

Already, more than 780 million people live below the international poverty line of USD1.90 a day. Around 75% of the poor inhabit rural areas, in many cases regions of high forest cover.

A core group of 21 internationally renowned experts from nine countries worldwide and with different scientific backgrounds have worked together for almost two years on the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Poverty.

The Panel, chaired by Professor Daniel C. Miller of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States, and led by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO), is an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) chaired by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Researchers who contributed to the report represent the United States, Argentine, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, the United Kingdom, India, Denmark and Canada.

The International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) is a world-wide organisation devoted to forest research and related sciences. Its members are research institutions, universities, and individual scientists as well as decision-making authorities and other stakeholders with a focus on forests and trees. https://www.iufro.org/

The IUFRO-led Global Forest Expert Panels (GFEP) initiative https://www.iufro.org/science/gfep/gfep-initiative/ of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) http://www.cpfweb.org/en/ established the Expert Panel on “Forests and Poverty” to provide policymakers with a stronger scientific basis for their decisions and policies related to the contributions of forests to poverty alleviation.