FAO Scenario Study Identifies Synergies as Key to Sustainable Forest Futures in Asia-Pacific
Photo by Nikita Birkbeck
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While there has been an overall increase in the area of forests set aside for biodiversity conservation since 2000, “development first” still dominates policy narratives in the Asia-Pacific region, limiting the scope to prevent further biodiversity losses.

To avoid “environmental catastrophe,” all actors will need to commit to transformational change that includes “working cross-sectorally and across borders, investing massively to restore forests and landscapes, reforming forest tenure and outdated institutions, empowering communities, and embracing innovation”.

The report makes particular note of the role of young people in realizing a more aspirational outcome for the region.

18 June 2019: For a region that is home to 55% of the world’s population, but accounts for only 18% of global forests, coordinated approaches are urgently needed to reverse biodiversity loss and manage the “special interest trade-offs [that] will, in many cases, be inevitable.” This is one of the key messages contained in the report titled, ‘Forest Futures: Sustainable Pathways for Forests, Landscapes and People in the Asia-Pacific Region,’ published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

The publication is structured around three main sections: an overview of Asia-Pacific forests in a larger landscape context; an examination of the key drivers of change with impacts on forests and forestry; and an exploration of three scenarios, “business-as-usual, aspirational and disruptive,” for 2030 and 2050 to support decision making and action by policymakers and other stakeholders.

Young people can shape a sustainable future by changing rigid institutions from within by shaking them up.

The report notes that while there has been an overall increase in the area of forests set aside for biodiversity conservation since 2000, “development first” still dominates policy narratives in the Asia-Pacific region, limiting the scope to prevent further biodiversity losses. The report identifies continued population rise, coupled with economic growth and purchasing power, as one of the most significant drivers of change in the sector. It further notes that the resulting changes in land use, as well as other “stressors” such as climate change and infrastructure development conflict, are contributing to declining ecosystem resilience in natural forests, along with the deteriorating capacity of these forests to deliver essential ecosystem services such as water and soil protection, climate regulation, cultural values, and wood, food and medicines.

To avoid the “environmental catastrophe” that is likely to result, the report stresses that all actors will need to commit to transformational change that includes “working cross-sectorally and across borders, investing massively to restore forests and landscapes, reforming forest tenure and outdated institutions, empowering communities, and embracing innovation.”

The report makes particular note of the role of young people in realizing a more aspirational outcome for the region. Referencing the contributions of around 300 forestry students and young professionals from more than 30 countries that were consulted for the study, the report highlights young people’s confidence that they can shape a sustainable future by taking leadership roles, generating momentum through collaboration and social media and “changing rigid institutions from within by shaking them up.”

FAO completed the first Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study (APFSOS I) in 1998 and APFSOS II in 2010. The APFSOS III report was launched during the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week 2019, which took place from 17-21 June 2019 in Incheon, Republic of Korea. [Publication: Forest Futures: Sustainable Pathways for Forests, Landscapes and People in the Asia-Pacific Region] [FAO Press Release]


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