Upland, coastal forested areas play important food roles, FAO says

By Keith Nuthall

QUEBEC CITY, Canada, September 25, 2003: The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization is meeting in Quebec City this week to discuss the advantages of forested lands to agricultural communities. Forests, long-thought in developing nations as a hindrance needing to be cleared, the World Forestry Congress will bring new evidence to show that keeping the trees is not only easier but leaves many more benefits than the quickly spent soils that lie underneath.

The World Forestry Congress will debate how foods – many naturally occurring – offer developing country communities “a much-needed safety net, helping people get by between harvest seasons, when crops fail or during times of drought, famine or social strife.”

Specialists will also debate how forests support livestock production with fodder, and, for example in coastal mangrove swamps, support fisheries. The meeting is expected to stress the need to conserve forests for these reasons, and also because they help filter and maintain water supplies, prevent soil erosion and moderate climates, benefiting conventional food production.

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