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Regional themes > MDGs Last update: 2020-11-27  

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International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Trees, poverty and targets: Forests and the Millennium Development Goals

James Mayers

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)


SARPN acknowledges IIED as the source of this document:
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Key messages:

  • Human well-being depends on ecosystem services such as those provided by forests. These services are the foundation for the Millennium Development Goals – but they are not yet treated as such.

  • It is remarkable how many recycled assumptions, and how little hard facts, there are about the importance of forests to human well-being. And whilst forestry can deliver much for poverty reduction and development, often it does not.

  • Evidence presented here shows how forest resources contribute to poverty mitigation – serving as subsistence ‘safety nets’ or low income ‘gap fillers’, and poverty reduction – helping lift households out of poverty by increasing assets, services, civil and political rights, voice and the rule of law.

  • Such contributions call for greater recognition of the value of sustainably managed forests (as well as biodiversity and tree-based assets in farms and urban areas) in national statistics and accounting, and in investment and development decision making.

  • Forests are set to return to world attention in discussions on climate change, biofuels and the economic rise and resource needs of nations such as Brazil, China, India and Russia - all political minefields that need to be negotiated with trees and people in mind.

  • Governance frameworks, instruments and capacities need to be shaped to encourage investment in the pro-poor productivity of forest assets.

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