COFO remarks on forests, wildlife and food security

July 22nd, 2016

Key Events from COFO23: World Forest Week include an admission about the undeniable links between forests, wildlife and food security.

This from the summary of key events from COFO23 (http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/cofo/daily-highlights/thursday-friday/en/):

For the communities living in and around forests, wildlife – from large mammals to insects – has always been a major source of nutritious food. Its consumption also ensures that forest peoples are not vulnerable to debilitating micronutrient deficiencies. However, as evidence presented by a panel at a WFW5 event and Tree Talk suggests, in many parts of the world hunting wildlife for food has become unsustainable, with implications for food security, ecosystems and human health.

A host of factors renders wildlife’s role as a future source of dietary protein and micronutrients highly uncertain: demographic increases; the progressive conversion of wildlife habitats to agricultural crop production; growing illegal wildlife trade as a result of increasing urbanization; and higher levels of household wealth with consequent greater demand for animal protein. This calls for new thinking about wildlife conservation while ensuring the wellbeing of indigenous forest peoples. It includes ensuring that these peoples’ exclusive territorial and wildlife hunting rights, which are threatened by unregulated trade, and their cultural identity are respected.

However, to make wildlife and the forest communities that depend on it sustainable requires robust policy coordination and regulatory measures across the sectors covering forests, wildlife and nutrition, the event suggested. Tree Talk moderator David Wilkie said this means striking a balance between wildlife conservation and its use in three ways: respecting and protecting the legitimate rights of indigenous peoples living in intact forests; increasing the supply of domestic sources of animal protein for families living in towns within tropical forests; and halting the luxury consumption of wild meat in urban areas.

FAO and its partners will move forward to promote action in this vein.

Read more at the websites of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management and FAO Forestry non-wood forest products.