How forests can help to feed the world

Two men harvest ramón nuts in Guatemala.

A new report shows how forests around the world can help eliminate malnutrition while fighting climate change.

Often, feeding the world’s growing population and protecting natural landscapes are pitted against one another. We know that much of the world’s deforestation, particularly in the tropics, is associated with the expansion of crops like palm oil and soy, as well as cattle and cocoa.

Yet a new report from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations shows that forests can play an important role in eliminating hunger and creating more food security. This is important, because protecting forests has been identified as a key and cost-effective means of fighting climate change. So, a better understanding of how forests help feed people may be another tool in the arsenal of their defense.

Over a billion people around the world experience chronic hunger, and twice as many suffer from periods of food insecurity. “Unfortunately, there is little current appreciation of the diverse ways in which these tree-based landscapes can supplement agricultural production systems in achieving global food security,” the authors write.

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