News / Africa

Forests and Trees Key to Food Sustainability

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
The International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition wrapped up on Wednesday, May 15, in Rome.
The event, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, brought scientists and leaders from around the world together to address the importance of including forests and agroforestry systems in discussions for solutions to world hunger. 

The FAO said forests, trees and agroforestry systems contribute to food security and nutrition in a number of ways, but the critical role forests play in food sustainability has been over-looked as a reliable, readily available source of food for people, especially in developing nations.

Douglas McGuire is the team leader of the forests resources management team for the forestry department of the FAO.  He said a big part of making sure the forest sector becomes an integral part of discussions on food security is creating the awareness of its vital role.

“We tend to approach the world in our different silos and not really look at the importance of how trees and forests are really contributing in a really significant way in many communities around the world to food security,” he explained.

He also pointed out that it is rare that in talking about agricultural policies and land use policies, the two sectors are combined in a way that people see as available resources.

One of the big highlights that came out on the first day of the conference was the critical role insects play in fighting world hunger. While, insects stole the spotlight at the conference, McGuire added there are a lot of edible products that come out of forests and tree based systems.

“In terms of food products, either direct or indirect, you have the production of many non-wood forests products, mushrooms that are coming from forests ecosystems.  You have indirect services as well that are coming and supporting food production and agricultural production.  So there is a whole range of goods and services that are coming,” said McGuire.

One important thing that is over-looked he explained, is the need for long-term support to sustain agricultural systems.  He said many forests are providing ecosystem services by helping to regulate water flow, and helping to protect against soil erosion.

McGuire explained these types of services are necessary for not only sustainable crop and livestock production, but sustainable agriculture overall.   

He also warned that unless the agricultural systems are increased to the point where they are able to provide higher productivity over a long period of time, the world’s food resources could be in trouble because agriculture production would be limited.

McGuire emphasized that this conference is significant because it is the first international conference that really looked at the importance of trees and forests to agricultural food security and nutrition. He said these sectors have a lot to offer in terms of food security not just as an afterthought, but as a necessity. 

“We’re hoping that from this we’re going to see significant changes in policies that so far have been just focused on food production, that will now realize the importance of forests and trees and incorporate those fully into policies that will translate into better action on the ground,” said McGuire.

He said this conference was the bridging of a very big gap that has been present for many years.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid