By Benedetta Wasonga

Have you ever asked yourself why the hullabaloo about forests?  It is crucial that you do so.  This is because forests have been undervalued in the effort to attain Sustainable Development goals (SDG’s). 

To some extent less treasured are the mostly imperceptible ways that forest-based ecosystem services add value to developmental objectives, and how deforestation can undermine their realization. 

Although efforts have been made to mobilize the importance of forests as an approach out of poverty for both rural and urban communities, not enough attention has been given to deforestation as a negative pathway to poverty. Alteration of forests to other land uses eliminates income from wild products such as honey, mushrooms, and leaves landscapes less resilient to landslides, floods and other natural disasters that can damage infrastructure (SDG 11) and set back income growth for years (SDG 1).

Deforestation has negative impacts on agricultural productivity which is a key weapon in the fight to end hunger (SDG 2). Forest-based birds and bees provide essential pollination and pest control within the eco-system. Forested watersheds provide water for irrigation, and help maintain the water habitat for the inland fisheries that is a source of food supply for millions. Loss of tree cover also affects the water cycle, threatening to dry up rivers and water vapor from forest transpiration which fall as rain on agricultural fields (SDG 6). 


Forests are a critical renewable natural resource. Growing trees, or cutting down forests, has major consequences. If forests are managed well they will provide us with goods and services that we cannot live without. They will also contribute significantly to the GDP of a country. If forests disappear we lose any prospect of sustainable development. Forests and trees are rooted in life and livelihoods. They can be grown, improved, and looked after. They are renewable. A manageable and a universal way of changing the world for the better is by growing and managing trees.

A universal and integrated sustainable development goals were developed during the Rio+20 summit whereby member states agreed to develop (SDGs) that will guarantee the promotion of an socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable future, in the context of the "Future we want". It articulated support for eradicating poverty and mainstreaming sustainable development to deal with other major challenges such as hunger, and climate change, as well as a green, inclusive economy. Also recognized during the summit is the role ecosystems play in development. The role played by forests and trees was also acknowledged in the document, where members emphasized, "We highlight the social, economic and environmental benefits of forests to people and the contributions of sustainable forest management." Efforts to reverse deforestation and degradation were called for and the need to encourage trade in legitimately harvested forest products.



Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform,   

Forests and SDGs, taking a second look,, 

Exploring Local Values for Forest Biodiversity on Mount Cameroon, 



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