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This report summarizes the current state of understanding regarding the links between forestry and food security. It is the result of a series of investigations begun in 1985 in response to the widely felt concern that excessive deforestation is threatening not only the soil and water base essential for continued food production, but also the present and future availability of the many forest plants and animals that are sources of food.

In April 1985, the 10th Session of the FAO Committee on World Food Security considered a preliminary study of the role of forestry in promoting food security and called for further exploration. During 1986 and 1987, the matter was discussed by the Committee on Forestry and three of the FAO Regional Forestry Commissions; these bodies recommended that an FAO Expert Consultation be convened.

The resulting Consultation, held in Banglore in February 1988 at the invitation of the Government of India, brought together 57 experts from 27 countries and organizations. The scope of the Consultation included all forestry-related activities that have a direct or indirect impact on food production and food security at the local level. Particular attention was paid to the links between social, economic, technical, environmental and institutional issues. Emphasis was also placed on questions of equity, and especially to food security of the poor and other vulnerable groups.

To provide background for the Consultation, a series of papers were commissioned on various aspects of forestry and food security. The present report is a synthesis of the background material and the conclusions and recommendations of the Expert Consultation. The report also points to a number of important areas where information is still lacking, or where differences of view still exist. It is hoped, therefore, that this document will encourage the design of policies and programmes which reflect more fully the impact of the linkages between forestry and food security. At the same time it should stimulate further research aimed at closing the gaps in our understanding.

This publication was funded with inputs from the FAO/SIDA Forests,Trees and People Programme.

Assistant Director-General
Forestry Department

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