Why Forests Matter

4 billion

Hectares of forests worldwide

Forests cover nearly a third of the world's land surface, just over 4 billion hectares. That’s the equivalent of Brazil, Canada, China, and the United States combined. But forests don’t just span an enormous portion of the earth’s terrain, they also play a vital role in almost every facet of life on our planet.



Forest have incredible potential for mitigating climate change.

Recent research shows that nature-based solutions, including forests, can provide up to 37 percent of the needed mitigation to meet international climate targets of keeping global temperature rise to below 2°C requires.

Forests sustain precious ecosystems.

In addition to mitigating climate change, forests help conserve water resources, prevent flooding and soil erosion and preserve biodiversity, cultures and traditions.

Forest support vibrant economies.

Good forest management underpins economic growth and vibrant rural economies. Forest-smart interventions in agriculture, mining, and water infrastructure can halt forest loss and degradation and restore degraded lands.

Forests can help make agricultural production more profitable and sustainable.

Clearing forests for agriculture is the main driver of deforestation around the world because the idea persists that clearing forests is the best way to achieve food security and reduce poverty. But in agroforestry initiatives across Africa, Asia and Latin America, tree planting is actually helping to protect crops and increase yields. Local communities are learning how to create plantations on degraded lands that produce more food, create new streams of income, and take the pressure off primary forests. Forests and trees are critical to achieve the triple win of increased productivity, enhanced climate resilience and increased carbon storage.

Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women have the closest connection with forests.

About a quarter of all forest carbon is stored in trees and in the ground on communal lands. The expansion and protection of tribal land rights can be one of the most cost-effective ways to protect forests and sequester carbon. Women’s particular dependence on forests, especially across the developing world, means they have more to lose when forests disappear. In this way, forest management is directly linked with the wellbeing of women and their families.

The role of REDD+

REDD+ stands for countries' efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

REDD+ looks at how developing countries can be compensated for their efforts to preserve tropical forests and in so doing reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The idea centers around making forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down by offering countries results-based incentives for reducing emissions in their forestry and broader land-use sectors.

In 2005, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change began negotiating how a REDD+ mechanism should work, and more than 10 years later, that mechanism is in place, and more than 50 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean are in various stages of setting up the building blocks to access results-based payments for their REDD+ efforts.

Learn more about REDD+