In her message on the occasion of the International Day of Forests - 21 March 2017, the new Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, put emphasis on how forests can contribute to three pressing issues, in a complementary and sustainable way: securing sustainable energy globally, while at the same time being essential for biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and climate change mitigation. Some points of this message are reported below.
According to FAO’s Global Forest Resource Assessment, the world forest area is decreasing as well as the global land area. “The global framework for action on biodiversity – the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, include specific targets to halt and then reverse this forest loss, restore degraded ecosystems, and achieve sustainably managed ecosystems.”
Wood is still the most important single source of renewable energy, providing about six per cent of the global total primary energy supply. The conservation and restoration of forest contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and also contributes to climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and other global agendas. Therefore, as demand for energy grows, it is important to ensure that the use of wood for biofuels does not outweigh the benefits of biodiversity and forest ecosystem functioning and resilience.
“At the policy level, it is important to ensure that the benefits that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems provide are considered in planning and decision making by different actors in the forest sector, including governments, the private sector, and financial institutions.
This integration is underway. In addition to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals promote the importance of achieving energy, climate mitigation, protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, and other global goals. The Paris Climate Agreement highlights the role of conservation and sustainable management of forests. The target of Land Degradation Neutrality of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification recognizes the need to support ecosystem functions and services through sustainable land management and the rehabilitation of degraded land and soil, including forests.
At the UN Biodiversity Conference held in December, 2016 in Cancun, Mexico1, the importance of integrating the consideration of biodiversity in the forest sector was recognized by ministers and other high-level officials, who committed to further actions as part of the Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-Being. Underscoring the relevance of forests to human well-being, it recommended designing and promoting incentive packages for the restoration, conservation and sustainable use of forest resources; promoting private sector participation in the development of production chains aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation while
increasing the benefits of landholders and local communities; and promoting the implementation of the International Agreement on Forests, which, among other things, promotes the implementation of sustainable forest management.
Forests are one of the most biologically rich terrestrial systems. Forests provide goods and services that range from timber and non-timber forest resources to mitigating climate change and genetic resources. Forests also provide livelihoods for people worldwide and play important economic, social, and cultural roles in the lives of many indigenous peoples and local communities. By investing in technical innovation and sustainably managing forests we help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, grow the green economy, and invest in our own sustainable future.”
Read the full CBD Executive Secretary Statement: