Forests could save the planet, we all know that. But a new United Nations-backed report on the link between forests and food production and nutrition says that woodlands could be the key to ending hunger and will be intimately linked to the global fight against climate change.

This report presents the results of the fourth global scientific assessment undertaken so far in the framework of GFEP. It reflects the importance of policy coherence and integration more than any previous GFEP assessment. It comes at a time when the United Nations General Assembly seeks to adopt a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. In this context, the eradication of hunger, realisation of food security and the improvement of nutrition are of particular relevance.

By 2050, the international community will face the challenge of providing 9 billion people with food, shelter and energy. Despite impressive productivity increases, there is growing evidence that conventional agricultural strategies will fall short of eliminating global hunger and malnutrition. The assessment report in hand provides comprehensive scientific evidence on how forests, trees and landscapes can be – and must be – an integral part of the solution to this global problem. In other words, we must connect the dots and see the bigger picture.


As population estimates for 2050 reach over 9 billion, issues of food security1 and nutrition have been dominating academic and policy debates, especially in relation to the global development agenda beyond 2015. A total of 805 million people are undernourished worldwide, even though the trend appears to be slowly reversing (FAO et al., 2014) and malnutrition – defined as either under-5 stunting, anaemia among women of reproductive age or adult obesity – affects nearly every country on the planet (IFPRI, 2014). Despite impressive productivity increases, there is growing evidence that conventional agricultural strategies fall short of eliminating global hunger, result in unbalanced diets that lack nutritional diversity, enhance exposure of the most vulnerable groups to volatile food prices, and fail to recognise the long-term ecological consequences of intensified agricultural systems (FAO, 2013; FAO et al., 2013). In parallel, there is considerable evidence that suggests that forests and tree-based systems can play an important role in complementing agricultural production in providing better and more nutritionally- balanced diets (Vinceti et al., 2013); woodfuel for
cooking; greater control over food consumption choices, particularly during lean seasons and periods of vulnerability (especially for marginalised groups); and deliver a broad set of ecosystem services which enhance and support crop production (FAO 2011a; Foli et al., 2014).

Full Report

Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition –
A Global Assessment ReportEditors: Bhaskar Vira, Christoph Wildburger, Stephanie MansourianFor hard copies of the global assessment report, please write to office(at)

Policy BriefForests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition – Contributing to the “Zero Hunger Challenge”

Forest and food security, UN Forum on Forests, 11th session (UNFF11) – Press Conference
6 May 2015 – Organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
Speakers: Mr. Bhaskar Vira, University of Cambridge, Panel Chair, Expert Panel on Forests and Food Security; Mr. Manoel Sobral Filho, Director, UN Forum on Forests Secretariat; Mr. Alexander Buck, Executive Director of International Union of Forest Research Organizations