NAIROBI, Oct.15 (Xinhua) -- Governments should prioritize sustainable management of forests amid their huge contribution to poverty eradication, food security, and climate resilience, says a report that was launched in Nairobi on Thursday.
The report titled, "Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations," says the vital ecosystem if properly harnessed can transform livelihoods of rural communities amid economic hardships linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Evidence shows that forests and tree-based systems can support rural livelihoods, have a buffer function in maintaining livelihoods and represent natural insurance," says the report.
The report was compiled by 22 researchers from nine countries and focused on the link between forests and poverty alleviation successes in Africa, Asia and Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic era.
The landmark study was spearheaded by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) affiliated Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).
According to the report, more than 1.6 billion people live within a 5 km radius near a forest while 250 million of the world's poorest citizens derive their livelihood from this ecosystem.
The report says that forests contribute 20 to 25 percent of household income among communities living in tropical countries similar to agriculture.
"Worldwide, more than a billion people, many living below the international poverty line, derive direct and indirect benefits from forests," says the report.
These benefits include forest-related employment and income, use of timber and non-timber forest products and a wide range of ecosystem services," it adds.
The report says that forests have been providing rural communities' strong buffer against climatic shocks like floods and droughts besides ensuring their energy, water, nutrition and aesthetic needs are met.
"Poor and vulnerable people often depend on the use of natural resources and in many regions, they are able to harness forest goods and services to manage and mitigate risk, especially in the face of crisis," said Alexander Buck, the executive director at IUFRO.
Buck said policymakers can leverage on the vast scientific knowledge contained in the forest report to improve their management amid human and climate-induced threats.
Hiroto Mitsugi, assistant director-general, FAO and chair of Collaborative Partnership on Forests said their prudent utilization can provide solutions to climate change, inequality and infectious diseases that are ravaging the poor.
"It is therefore essential to review the role of forests in development in general, and in achieving poverty eradication, in particular," said Mitsugi. Enditem