A new comprehensive global assessment report says it is imperative to protect natural resources, including forests for future generations.

The report titled, “Global Assessment of Forest Education” examined the state of forest education and suggested much-needed actions.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) jointly conducted the assessment, which was presented on October 4, 2022, in Rome, Italy, as part of the 26th session of the FAO Committee on Forestry.

The report said that, in order to maximise the contribution of forests to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a need for well-trained forest sector workers, entrepreneurs, practitioners, researchers, professionals, and policymakers as well as a well-informed public.

This is because forests and trees play an important role in countries’ efforts to achieve the United Nations SDGs.

According to the report, although the forest may only make up a small portion of all educational branches, forest education has enormous potential and will help in attaining the SDGs more easily if forest-related stakeholders can better understand and work together.

“Forest education may be a tiny sector among educational branches, but it has the potential to play a much larger role. With a better understanding and alignment among forest-related stakeholders, it can make a difference in attaining the SDGs,” said Alexander Buck, Executive Director, IUFRO.

Recent literature raises concerns that the importance of forests, as well as that of forest managers and policymakers, is frequently undervalued, and that forest education frequently does not meet the needs of local communities or the rapidly evolving labour market.

Gerardo Segura Warnholtz, Senior Forestry Officer, FAO, hopes that the report will inform future action to strengthen forest education to the benefit of forests and trees and contribute to the well-being of forest-dependent peoples, global society, and the planet.

“Our hope is that this report will inform future action to strengthen forest education to the benefit of forests and trees and contribute to the wellbeing of forest-dependent peoples, global society and the planet,” he said.

The study covers all levels of formal education, including primary, secondary, technical and vocational education and training, universities, and colleges. It addresses education and training related to forests, trees outside of forests, and other wooded lands.

It highlights the urgent need for locally relevant, suitable, and inclusive solutions that account for language barriers, digital divides, and a gender and racial/ethnic balance in the workforce and in educational programs for forests. Making sure that students at all levels have better access to forests and outdoor training opportunities is one of the main areas that need improvement.

“High quality and widely available forest education that also includes indigenous and traditional forest-related knowledge is essential for enabling forests and trees to fulfil many of the societal and environmental functions, a key element being ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the forestry sector,” says Sheam Satkuru, ITTO Executive Director.

The report is based on the findings of six regional assessments of forest education conducted as part of the project “Creation of a Global Forest Education Platform and Launch of a Joint Initiative under the Aegis of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF)” with funding assistance from the German Federal Ministry for Food & Agriculture (BMEL).

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