The Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission highlighted the strategic role of regional forests in improving livelihoods, countering climate change and halting biodiversity loss.
The need to move towards more sustainable and resilient forest promotion and management, addressing the impacts of COVID-19, was one of the conclusions of the 32nd Meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (LACFC).
Held from 6-10 September, hosted by Jamaica, LACFC highlighted the importance of forests in improving people’s livelihoods, countering the impacts of climate change and halting biodiversity loss.
“Forests have a strategic role to play in the future resilience of food systems. Sustainable forest products allow for increased social, economic and environmental benefits,” said Julio Berdegué, Regional Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
According to FAO, forests provide ecosystem services that are crucial for agriculture, such as river flow regulation, groundwater recharge, and soil protection.
Despite this, deforestation and forest degradation continue to advance, contributing to the ongoing loss of biodiversity: according to FAO data, South America lost 2.6 million hectares of forest each year in the period 2010-2020, the second highest rate in the world after Africa.
Land tenure and investment in forests
One of the themes highlighted during the LACFC was the importance of access to land, resources and investments in forests, and how this can drive improved well-being for women, youth and indigenous communities.
Improving their access to land, technology, credit and training, and boosting their participation in decision-making, is critical to achieving gender equality in the sector.
The experts gathered at LACFC also highlighted the importance of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) as a great opportunity for recovery.
LACFC’s mandate is to advise FAO on the most important issues related to forests in Latin America and the Caribbean, based on national and regional priorities of the countries.
The 32nd Session of the Forestry Commission was attended by more than 100 experts from 32 countries of the region, 22 organizations, as well as the Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change of Jamaica, Pearnel Charles Jr; the Director of the Forestry Division of FAO, Mette Wilkie; the FAO Representative in Jamaica, Crispim Moreiro, and the Alternate Regional Representative Eve Crowley.