Utilising, developing and preserving forests: finding the balance

published in May 2012
Forests are both an economic and an environmental challenge, with different stakeholders defending their own interests. Can these divisions be overcome through sustainable forest resource management? How can the private sector be involved?
Democratic Republic of Congo
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Forests are important carbon sinks that play a vital role in maintaining the world’s ecological balances. However, population growth and urbanisation are intensifying pressure on forested land in the southern hemisphere. The combined effects of agricultural development and overexploitation of fuel wood are causing nearly 13 million hectares of forest to disappear every year, particularly in the forest basins of the Amazon, Central Africa and Indonesia. Responsible for between 10% and 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation has not only contributed to climate change, but has also led to a loss of biodiversity and to soil degradation. Forests are seen as a means of subsistence, a cultural heritage, an ecosystem in need of protection, a land reserve and a resource to be exploited, so they draw together a large number of stakeholders with disparate interests.

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