United Nations University OurWorld 2.0: Seeing the people for the trees

8 June 2012

Seeing the people for the trees

Forests cover over one third of the world’s land surface, or around 4 billion hectares. Abundant in biodiversity, crucial in the ecological services they provide to the planet and its living inhabitants, forests are also attractive in terms of economic potential and natural resources. However, the persistent and widespread degradation of these vital areas poses a direct threat to the rural communities and indigenous peoples who have inhabited and depended on them directly and primarily for centuries.
 
Forest peoples have, over the centuries, elaborated and practised livelihood systems derived from their natural environment and anchored in traditional knowledge, practices and beliefs. Forest peoples depend primarily and directly on the forest both for subsistence and trade in the form of fishing, hunting, shifting agriculture, the gathering of wild forest products and other activities.