Skip to main content

Beginning Session, Forum Releases Global Forest Goals Report, as Speakers Underline Ways Conservation Can Be Used to Build Back Better

The Forum on Forests began its sixteenth session in a virtual format today with the launch of its inaugural Global Forest Goals Report, as speakers highlighted the myriad ways in which the world’s forests, if sustainably managed, can contribute to “building back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic while also achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Billed as the Forum’s flagship publication, the 98-page Global Forest Goals Report — produced by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and based in large part on 52 voluntary national reports — is the first-ever snapshot of where the world stands in implementing the 6 global forest goals and 26 targets set out in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030, which the Forum adopted at a special session in 2017.  That Plan is deemed integral to achieving the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Forests cover 31 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, or more than 4 billion acres, absorbing roughly 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide every year.  But, while the pace of deforestation has slowed, the world still is still losing 20 million hectares of forest every year, notably to large-scale agricultural production.  The biggest declines are in Africa and South America, while net increases in forest areas since 1990 have been seen in Asia, Europe and Oceania, the report says.

Also before the Forum today was a note of the Forum secretariat on COVID‑19’s impact on forests and the forest sector.  It found that, globally, the pandemic has aggravated hardship among forest-dependent people, including job losses and lower incomes and remittances.  On the other hand, it determined that sustainable forest management can offset many of the pandemic’s social, economic and environmental impacts, such as poverty and widening inequality.  Forest-based solutions should therefore be part of post-pandemic recovery plans, it stated.

“We have our work cut out to meet these challenging times,” said Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the start of a high‑level round table devoted to COVID-19 and forests.  While the coronavirus has been a major setback, it is also an opportunity to recover better, and make peace with nature using the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Forests are ready-to-go solutions, she said, calling for greater investment in forest conservation, especially in those countries which face a debt crisis aggravated by the pandemic.

Kitty Sweeb (Suriname), Forum Chair, said that the pandemic’s adverse effects have reversed many of the hard-won gains made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  At the same time, however, it has underscored the need for international cooperation.  In that context, forests provide many socioeconomic and environmental benefits, together with immense potential for addressing global crises, she said.

Munir Akram (Pakistan), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that reforestation and nature-based solutions will be central to a post-pandemic recovery that is sustainable, inclusive and resilient.  Halting and reversing deforestation can reduce the risks and conditions that lead to the spread of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19, he said, adding that it is also essential to identify potential scientific and technological breakthroughs needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, pointed out the many ways in which COVID-19 brought home the risks of human encroachment of the natural world.  “Clearly, our world is telling us that there is a problem in our relationship with nature,” he said, calling on the international community to focus on symptoms rather than underlying conditions — with forest protection being one of the clearest and easiest solutions available.

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and senior officials of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Pulp Manufacturers Association of South Africa also spoke at the start of the high-level round table, which was followed by an interactive dialogue.

The Forum — which is meeting over four days via video-teleconference — also held a panel discussion today to mark the launch of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021, with Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, delivering opening remarks.  In addition, delegates heard the introduction of documentation under the various agenda items of its current session.

The Forum on Forests will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, 27 April, for panel discussions on, among other things, thematic priorities for 2021-2022 in support of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Forests and interlinkages between the global forest goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Elections of Officers

KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), Forum Chair, recalled that through a silence procedure that expired without object on 2 July 2020, the Forum elected her as Chair, and Javed Momeni (Iran) and Jesse Mahoney (Australia) as Vice-Chairs, of its sixteenth and seventeenth session.

She also recalled that the Forum, through a silence procedure that expired on 14 April 2021, adopted an oral decision to elect Musah Abu-Juam (Ghana) and Tomasz Markiewicz (Poland) as Vice-Chairs of is sixteenth and seventeenth session, and to appoint Mr. Momeni (Iran) to serve concurrently as Rapporteur of those same two sessions.

Organization of Work

Ms. SWEEB recalled that, through a silence procedure that expired without objection on 14 April, the Forum decided to adopt two oral decisions containing the provisional agenda (document E/CN.18/2021/1) and the provisional organization of work of its sixteenth session.  She added that a concise Chair’s summary of the highlights of the sixteenth session will be shared with delegations towards the end of the week with a view to receiving comments and factual corrections.  That summary, also containing a summary of Forum discussions, will serve as input to the 2021 high-level political forum on sustainable development, taking place from 6 to 15 July at Headquarters under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

Emerging Issues

ALEXANDER TRIPELKOV, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Forum on Forests secretariat, introduced the note by the secretariat titled “Impact of the pandemic on forests and the forest sector” (document E/CN.18/2021/7).  Noting that the Forum was among the first intergovernmental bodies to assess the impact of COVID-19 on forests, he explained that the present note is an overview of the key findings of initial assessments based on regional studies.  Among other things, it found that, globally, the pandemic aggravated hardship among forest-dependent people, including job losses, lower incomes and remittances, and increased physical isolation.  This resulted in less investment, less revenue and higher costs for forest companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.  It also found that sustainable forest management can offset many of the social, economic and environmental impacts of the pandemic, such as poverty and widening inequality.  Forest-based solutions should therefore be part of post-pandemic recovery plans.

The note recommends a renewed commitment to internationally agreed forest goals and targets, the implementation of which should be accelerated, he said, pointing in particular to the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests, which dovetails with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  As the world focuses on recovery and resilience-building, there is a unique opportunity to promote forests as a nature-based solution to global challenges, including climate change and biodiversity loss.  He went on to say that post-pandemic efforts must be matched by adequate resources.  The role of official financial flows for forests is more important than ever, as well as capacity-building and multi-stakeholder partnerships, he added, calling for a renewed commitment to live in harmony with nature and to galvanize action for forests and the people who depend on them.

Round Table

The Forum then held a high-level round table on major forest-related developments followed by an interactive dialogue.  Moderated by Ms. Sweeb, it featured statements by Mr. Akram; Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); and Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Tina Birmpili, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Donald Cooper, Director, Transparency Division, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat; and Jane Molony, Executive Director, Pulp Manufacturers Association of South Africa, spoke as lead discussants.

Ms. SWEEB said that the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reversed many of the hard-won gains made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  At the same time, it has underscored the need for international cooperation, she said, stressing the need for greater and faster efforts to achieve the Goals and the global forest goals.  In this context, forests provide many socioeconomic and environmental benefits.  They also have immense potential to address global crises.  In addition to their critical role in combating climate change, forests are home to 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems.  Moreover, forests and mountains provide 75 per cent of all freshwater resources.  Today’s round table is an opportunity to promote multilateral actions in sustainable forest management and to maximize the contribution of forests to addressing planetary challenges.  It will also be an occasion to express collective will to chart forest-based solutions for a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the pandemic, she said.

Mr. AKRAM, underscoring the pandemic’s sweeping impact alongside an ongoing environmental crisis, said that a global recovery must be sustainable, inclusive, and resilient.  “Reforestation and nature-based solutions will be a central part of such a sustainable development model,” he said, adding that halting and reversing deforestation can reduce the risks and conditions that lead to the spread of zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19.  He cited his country’s Clean and Green Pakistan programme and its “10 billion tree tsunami” initiative as a successful example of reforestation.  Financing for sustainable forest management must be part of efforts to boost liquidity in the global economy, he said, adding that sustainable agriculture and forest management goes hand in hand with sustainable infrastructure investments.  It is also essential to identify potential scientific and technological breakthroughs needed to achieve the Goals.

Mr. BOZKIR, pointing out the many ways in which COVID-19 brought home the risks of human encroachment of natural world, noted high rates of species extinction and increased global warming.  “Clearly, our world is telling us that there is a problem in our relationship with nature,” he said, calling on the international community to focus on symptoms rather than underlying conditions.  Forest protection is one of the clearest and easiest solutions to this, he said, noting their beneficial effects on rainfall patterns, carbon absorption and purification of air and water.  Protecting such a multifaceted resource is an obvious solution, he said, calling on policymakers to approach COVID-19 recovery the right way.  It is vital to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals and other related global agendas serve as a blueprint for a more resilient world.  The Organization will assist these efforts by supporting the building of political momentum through a series of high-level meetings, he said, highlighting the dialogue on desertification to be held in May.  Calling for coordinated environmental action to maximize the impact of collective commitments, he said that 2021 should be the beginning of “a new decade of ecosystem restoration”.

Ms. MOHAMMED, noting the importance of forests to global freshwater resources and biodiversity, said that, each year, 10 million hectares of forests are destroyed, an area larger than the United Kingdom.  If tropical forest loss was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, she said, adding that “we have our work cut out to meet these challenging times”.  While COVID-19 represented a major setback, it is also an opportunity to recover better, and make peace with nature using the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Forests are ready-to-go solutions, she said, identifying financing as an important area for action.  Countries must be able to unlock investments for forest conservation, especially countries that are hampered by the debt crisis.  Highlighting the Central African Forest Initiative for its work at the community level, she said that building forest consolidation into COVID-19 recovery is a win-win.  Every job created in the forest economy generates 1.5 to 2.5 jobs in the wider economy, she noted, calling on the international community to move from an era of negotiations into a decade of action.

Mr. QU said that healthy forests are key to building back better, yet deforestation and forest degradation are still having devastating impact on the environment and on people’s lives.  According to FAO’s 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment, the world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year through deforestation, mostly due to the expansion of agriculture.  At the same time, land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares — an area larger than South America.  Fortunately, solutions are at hand, he said, emphasizing that increasing agricultural protection and halting deforestation are not mutually exclusive.  Flagging the Secretary-General’s “Turning the Tide on Deforestation” initiative, he said that more investment in forests through stimulus packages can contribute to post-pandemic economic recovery and provide millions of green jobs.  He also stressed the need for partnerships, noting that the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, which FAO chairs, brings together 15 international organizations as it helps countries to protect, restore and sustainably manage their forests.  “Our generation must be the one that halts deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change,” he said.  “Let’s make it happen”.

Ms. MREMA emphasized the way that deforestation, land conversion, degradation and unsustainable use of forest products — together with climate change — are pushing people into closer contact with pathogens.  Many interacting pressures foster the potential for new channels of transmission and for new diseases to emerge.  “Protecting, restoring and sustainably using forests is key to ‘building back better’ and guarding ourselves against new pandemics,” she said.  Some progress has been recorded under the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, with the rate of deforestation lower than it was in the previous decade and more than 30 per cent of all tropical rainforests, subtropical dry forests and temperate oceanic forests now located within protected areas.  However, deforestation is accelerating in places, loss of primary forest continues and much of what we have retained is fragmented, he said.  “Reversing these trends must be our utmost priority.”  Noting the start of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, as well as the fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook, published in August 2020, she said that a global focus on natures requires greater ambition and to make full use of opportunities presented by the forest sector to put the world back on a greener, more sustainable track.

Ms. BIRMPILI said that people who are lucky enough to live in or close to forests know about their incredible biodiversity and immediate restorative power.  Forests contribute to human and planetary health far beyond their confines by absorbing carbon dioxide, stabilizing rainfall patterns, lowering temperatures and protecting against desertification, sandstorms, dust storms and drought.  They can also slow or buffer the spread of zoonotic diseases.  However, humanity is still decimating forests, and while the pace of forest loss is declining, “killing something a little bit slower is not a victory”.  Renewed and healthy forests can, and must, be part of the solution to the many crises our planet faces and now is the time to bring forests back to life.  The way forward includes stronger commitments to forest restoration in updated pledges under the Paris Agreement, meeting land restoration commitments under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and by agreeing on a more ambitious biodiversity framework later in 2021.  An important short-term opportunity lies in pandemic‑recovery spending, she said, pointing to estimates which suggest that every United States dollar invested in restoring degraded forests can yield $7 to $30 in economic benefits.

Mr. COOPER said that forests today are under enormous stress.  Deforestation is reducing forest area in many regions and climate impacts on forests — including forest fires, pests and droughts — can be seen all over the world.  Initial data meanwhile shows that COVID-19 is adding to the pressure as forest resources are used as a buffer in times of low legal enforcement and high economic distress.  “We must all work together to limit the impact of climate change, and we must also help forests to adapt to climate change that is already unavoidable.”  If we do so, forests can continue to provide multiple benefits, including for climate adaptation and mitigation.  Properly managed forests can have the potential to remove between 2.8 and 26.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, he said, adding that the difference of 24 gigatons in that estimate is greater than the entire CO2 emissions of North America, Europe and China combined.

Realizing at least some of that forest mitigation potential requires overcoming several interrelated challenges and barriers, such as a lack of proper institutions, poor governance, accessibility to finance, agricultural expansion and poverty, he said.  On the other hand, proper implementation can ensure multiple benefits and ecosystem services that contribute to the Goals and various international conventions.  Key to improved foreign management is proper data to inform decision‑making and to prove that actions are yielding results, he said, drawing attention to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat’s enhanced transparency initiative.  He went on to underscore the role that the private section can play, adding, however, that attracting its participation will require coherent policies for sustainable forest management.

Ms. MOLONY said that, during the pandemic, almost all countries treated the forest product sector as an essential service, testifying to its valued role in society.  “Sustainably managed forests and production of ordinary and innovative products from wood, rather than products from fossil-based materials, can drive global economic and environmental recovery.”  She emphasized the need to support research into drought, pests and disease; to promote the use of certified timber, with certification made more accessible to small-scale growers; and increased consumer understanding that would, in turn, lift demand for responsibly sourced wood and fibre-based products.  She also called for Government policies which provide practical regulatory frameworks which minimize environmental impacts and maximize the economic benefits of forest-based green value chains.  Citing several examples of good practices, she said that, in Burkina Faso, farmers are using a centuries-old technique to grow trees in drought-stricken areas, while in South Africa, the Sappi Khulisa project gives seedlings, technical assistance and interest-free loans to small-scale farmers, together with a guaranteed market for the timber harvest.  Meanwhile, pension fund and asset managers are finally viewing investment in forestry as “a good green bet”.  Such initiatives give hope, but more must be done and without delay, she said, adding:  “Let’s build back better by building with wood, the ultimate renewable.”

In the interactive dialogue that followed, speakers raised concerns about the effects of COVID-19 on forests and shared national experiences in their sustainable management.  They also welcomed the Forum’s work towards the second assessment of the pandemic on sustainable forest management.

The representative of Slovenia called on the international community to overcome the conflict between the economic and environmental functions of forests and highlighted his country’s expertise in close-to-nature forestry.

The representative of the European Union, noting the close link between forest health and human health, lauded the Forum for its work in assessing the current scenario and identifying solutions.  Stressing the importance of preventing pandemics while also tackling poverty and food security, he voiced the bloc’s commitment to including sustainable forest management in COVID-19 recovery.

The representative of Honduras pointed out that 65 per cent of his country’s territory is covered by forests, with 41 per cent declared protected area.  The public and private sector are actively engaged in the forest restoration project and in tackling the consequences of climate change.  His Government has led groundwater restoration projects and pays special attention to tackling forest fires in its national reconstruction plan.

The representative of Indonesia highlighted improved reforestation rates in his country, also expressing commitment to “a balanced approach”.  He noted that his Government is establishing various recovery policies to stimulate the economy, including by supporting timber-based industries and accelerating development of community forests.

The representative of Germany, pointing out that recreational visits to forests have doubled in her country, said that woodlands contribute sustainably and inexpensively to climate neutrality.  Given the increase in extreme weather events related to climate change, Germany is investing in forest solutions, she said, calling on the international community to scale up private sector involvement in sustainable supply chains.

The representative of the United States said that her country’s COVID-19 recovery plan pays attention to the conservation of lands and forests.  Natural ecosystems are essential for addressing sustainable economic development, disaster risk mitigation and human well-being, she said, spotlighting the 2020 American Outdoors Act.  Her country re-joined the Paris Agreement, she noted, adding that good governance, in partnership with indigenous peoples, is critical for addressing habitat loss and land degradation.

The representative of China said that the pandemic has had a huge impact on his country’s forest industry, as well as ecotourism.  The Government is addressing this through policies specific to local conditions, he said, adding that forest restoration and management is getting back to normal, thanks to the effective containment of the pandemic.  In the post-pandemic era, it is especially vital to promote employment and poverty alleviation in forest areas, hand in hand with good forestry practices, he said, voicing China’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

The representative of Kenya said that his country has instituted various policies to integrate sustainable forest management into its pandemic recovery plan.  Activities such as environmental clean-up in forest‑adjacent areas and tree planting are providing vulnerable groups in his country with income, he said.

LIU ZENHMIN, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, delivering closing remarks, highlighted some key messages from the discussion.  Among other things, sustainable forest management should be integrated into post‑pandemic recovery strategies.  The forest sector, including agroforestry, can play an important role in addressing unemployment and food insecurity.  He underscored the potential of forests to provide social protection, especially for vulnerable groups, adding that healthy and resilient forests are vital for effective ecosystem management in the post-pandemic era.  He also stressed the importance of improving the interface between science and policy, as well as adequate funding and data analysis, to lower the risk of future pandemics.  Stronger intersectoral collaboration is also key to ensuring optimal and efficient land-use planning.

Global Forest Goals Report 2021

The Forum then began the launch of the first edition of its flagship publication, Global Forest Goals Report 2021.

Mr. MAHONEY said that the Report, based on voluntary national reports from 52 Member States, marks the first time that the Forum has produced a publication of such depth.  It showcases how countries around the world are taking action in support of the 2017 United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests and integrating forests into their sustainable development efforts.  While the data therein was collected prior to the start of the pandemic, the Report underscores the pressing need to strengthen sustainable forest management in all countries and regions, she said.

Mr. LIU said the report’s aim is to present an overview of progress so far, highlight where action is being taken and what challenges remain.  It also features success stories which showcase best practices.  During the pandemic, the forest sector provided essential health products, such as masks and cleaning supplies.  Forests can also act as a buffer to counter the spread of disease.  Investing in forests is investing in a better future, but, while the pace of deforestation has slowed, some 7 million hectares of forest are converted every year to other uses, such as large-scale agricultural production.  There are also indications that the coronavirus is exacerbating forest management challenges.  The pandemic has been a harsh wake-up call, but it also presents an opportunity to speed up efforts to meet the forest goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.

MARIA HELEN SEMEDO, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization, underscored the way in which the agency is supporting Member States’ efforts to collect, analyse and use forest data, including by strengthening national capacities for better and more transparent data and using the latest technologies to create engaging outputs and to tailor tools to the needs of individual countries and strategic partners.  “Information, knowledge‑sharing and working together is vital.”  Combined with data from FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020, the Report indicates that, despite many challenges, progress is being made towards all six global forest goals and their associated targets.

Mr. TEPELKOV presented the Report’s key findings, saying that, overall, Member States are rising to the challenge of increasing the total area of the world’s forests by 3 per cent by 2030, following the Forum’s adoption four years ago of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2030.  Asia, Europe and Oceania appear to be on track to meet that target.  Africa and South America, however, witness a loss of forest area, albeit at a slower rate than before.  Generally speaking, the world as a whole is on track to maintain its forest carbon stocks.  Many actions are being taken to reduce poverty for forest-dependent people, but much remains to be done to measure their effects.  As of 2020, nearly 18 per cent of the world’s forests were legally protected, with Africa, Asia and South America already exceeding Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.  Most regions are on track to maintain or increase the area of forest subject to long-term management plans, while the area of certified forest has expanded along with the supply of wood from certified and other sustainably managed forests.

The Report also found that many countries have mobilized increased financial resources for sustainable forest management, he continued.  However, despite many initiatives to increase forest financing, assessing the scale of their impact is difficult.  However, financing for forests remains below the level needed to achieve the global forest goals, he said, adding that the Forum’s Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network is working to address those challenges.  Many steps have been taken to strengthen national and subnational forest authorities and to combat illegal logging and related trade.  Overall, the report paints a vibrant picture of ambitious and inspiring action on the ground and around the world, although there are growing concerns that the global recession, especially in donor countries, will lead to reducing international public financing for forests.

The Forum then held a panel discussion on the theme “Launch of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021”.  Moderated by Mr. Mahoney, it featured presentations by Liu Xin, Deputy Director-General, National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China; Julius Kamau, Chief Conservator of Forests of Kenya; Maureen Whelan, Director, Canadian Forest Service; Davia Carty, Manager, Strategic Corporate Planning, Forestry Department of Jamaica; Boris Greguska, Chief State Counsellor, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Slovakia; and Mette Wilkie, Director, Forestry Division, FAO.

Ms. LIU said that China has seen huge growth in its forest cover since 1949, adding 105 million hectares in the past four decades alone.  One quarter of the increase in the world’s green area has come from China, mostly due to reforestation efforts.  That progress reflects the priority that the Government gives to environmental development.  China’s national goals are highly consistent with the global forest goals as it aims to achieve 24.1 per cent national forest cover by 2025.

Mr. KAMAU described the various actions that Kenya has taken to improve the livelihoods of forest‑dependent people and forest‑adjacent communities.  Those include the establishment of a forest investment facility which provides capacity development for farmers and revolving loans for small‑scale forest enterprises.  It has also developed and implemented a human rights-based approach to forest protection and management.

Ms. WHELAN said that Canada has 347 million hectares, 95 per cent of which is public lands, which facilitated reporting.  Less than one half of 1 per cent of its forests are harvested each year, she said, adding that fires and insects have a greater impact.  The size of Canada’s forests has remained stable in recent years.  More than 200 million hectares of her country’s forests are under long‑term management plans and the proportion of forest products from certified forest lands has significantly increased.

Ms. CARTY said that 40 per cent of Jamaica is forested, most of it privately owned.  It is receiving financial and technical support from the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network to develop financing strategies for sustainable forest management.  Approval is pending for a four-year, $10 million programme, supported by FAO, that will focus on mangrove ecosystems.  She added that budget allocation for the forest sector in Jamaica is limited and that greater capacity is needed to source and administer funding.

Mr. GREGUSKA said that, in the case of Slovakia, a major data‑gathering challenge is establishing a proper intersectoral dialogue that would facilitate common understanding among relevant sectors and institutions.  Different sectors have different perspectives on what progress may or may not have been made.  This is especially relevant for cooperation between the forestry and nature conservation sectors.  He went on to express the hope that the Report will be a gamechanger in raising public awareness about sustainable forest management.

Ms. WILKIE, presenting an overview of FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment, said that the pace of deforestation is slowing, but not at a rate enough to meet the global forest goals.  She also noted that FAO supports national efforts to collect, analyse and use forest data to sustainably manage the world’s forests.

Mr. MAHONEY delivered closing remarks, saying that the report comes at a time when hard-won progress for sustainable development, including in the forest sector, is running the risk of being set back.  “We in the forest community cannot allow this to happen.”  Going forward, the report can serve as an important advocacy and communications tool, and inspire greater commitment and greater priority for forests.

For information media. Not an official record.