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Forest Futures: Sustainable pathways for forests, landscapes and people in the Asia-Pacific region

The demand of society on forests has continuously changed. Initially, forests were mainly seen as resources for timber. Overtime, the role of forests has expanded as our society expects various economic, social and environmental products and services from the forests. Forests now are seen as a component of broader landscapes. The interconnectedness of forests to other sectors has become much more understood. Also, there is a better appreciation of the environmental and cultural role of forests. Looking into the future, it is very important for governments, organizations, private sector and other stakeholders to understand the roles of forests and forestry in the next decades. This will help them in designing their interventions, investments and strategic planning. In the past, in collaboration with governments and partners, FAO has undertaken regional and global outlook studies to assess how the future is likely to unfold and to identify challenges and opportunities that are likely to emerge. FAO completed the first Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS I) in 1998 and APFSOS II in 2010. Governments appreciated the results of the studies as they used them for strategic planning at national and sub-national levels. Policy dialogues involving key stakeholders such as private sector, international organizations, donors, youth, etc. on issues such as investment, partnership and priorities in the forestry sector were also informed by the results of these studies. Additionally, various organizations have used the studies for research and capacity building.

According to the report titled “Forest Future: Sustainable pathways for forests, landscapes and people in the Asia-Pacific region,” forests and landscapes in the Asia-Pacific region are under increasing pressure from climate change, economic growth, infrastructure development, forest conversion, conflicts and other stressors. Biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in natural forests are declining along with the capacity of these forests to deliver water and soil protection, climate regulation, and other important factors.

This report finds that sustainable development will only be achieved in the region if we commit to transformational change model by working cross-sectorally and across borders, investing massively to restore forests and landscapes, reforming forest tenure and outdated institutions, empowering communities, and embracing innovation.

This new FAO publication asserts that demand for forest products and ecosystem services goes beyond borders. Water, wildlife, fire and forest pests don’t recognize administrative or sectoral boundaries.


Primary forests are those forests largely unaffected by human activities, and they are therefore extremely important for biodiversity conservation and other reasons. Of the region’s 723 million hectares of forest, this reports reveals that, only 19 percent (140 million hectares) is primary, which is much lower than the global average (32 percent). The conservation of primary forests in the region and the sustainable management of other natural forests are urgently needed to safeguard biodiversity, ecosystem services and the quality and health of the physical environment.

According to FAO report the region’s population is projected to grow from 4.1 billion people in 2017 to 4.7 billion in 2050. Home to 55 percent of the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific region contains only 18 percent of global forests. There is an urgent need for societies to reduce consumption, increase reuse, and sustainably produce biomaterials in forests. We need to find innovative ways to balance competing demands that will benefit us all.

Realizing an aspirational future – and avoiding catastrophic outcomes – FAO urges all countries in the region to implement the seven robust actions recommended in this report. These are to 1) adopt adaptive landscape management; 2) increase cooperation among stakeholders; 3) improve forest quality; 4) invest in alternative economic models; 5) achieve good forest governance; 6) build resilience; and 7) commit sufficient resources for forest and landscape management. With strong political will, these actions will give countries the best chance of ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems, economies and communities.

Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Organization: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Year: 2019

ISBN: 978-92-5-131457-9

Geographical coverage: Asia and the Pacific

Type: Book

Full text available at:

Content language: English

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