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Forests for the Rest

We all know forests and all terrestrial ecosystems support livelihoods and also provide critical ecosystem services such as habitats for biodiversity, provision of drinking water, and carbon sequestration. Besides constituting essential parts of our planet’s well-being, forests provide an important source of income for people as well, especially those in rural areas. All these elements show us that forest conservation is an important issue to be aware of and preserving our forests is an important goal to have.


When people think of the benefits of forests, they usually think of global effects. However, apart from the fact that forests are an important aspect of rural livelihoods, about 350 million people who live within or close to dense forests depend on them for their subsistence and income. Households living near forested areas derive as much as 22% 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 are particularly important as they can help provide employment for areas that have fewer alternative off-farm employment options, providing the country with support. Forests produce more than 5,000 types of wood-based products and generate an annual gross value add of over US$600 billion, which is about 1% of global GDP (in some countries that contribution is much higher, reaching for example 6% of GDP in Cameroon).


Deforestation and forest degradation contribute about 12% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 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. From those programs, successful new partnerships have been formed between governments, local communities, civil society, and the private sector—all with the goal of forest conservation. To achieve global climate targets, we will need to increase our efforts to scale up these results-based emission reduction programs.

Investment in planting trees and forest conservation is urgently needed as many of the world’s remaining forests are under increasing threat due to agriculture expansion, timber extraction, fuelwood collection, and other activities. Saving forests not only leads to the sustainability of the planet but is also integral to the sustainable survival of our civilization.

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