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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More