On 20 January, 2017, during the UN Forum on Forests, 197 Member States reached agreement on the first UN Strategic Plan for Forests that provides an ambitious vision for global forests in 2030. This plan will significantly improve the outlook for the world’s forests, including a target that would expand the world’s forests by 120 million hectares - an area about the size of South Africa - by 2030.

“Agriculture, forestry and fisheries contribute massively to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals… Forests and sustainable management of forests are core aspects of SDG15 and its targets. Forests are also explicitly addressed in the SDG6 target 6.6 on water and are crucial to achieving many of the other SDGs and associated targets. This includes poverty eradication (SDG1), food security and nutrition (SDG2), health (SDG3), gender equality (SDG5), sustainable energy (SDG7), sustainable economic growth (SDG8), infrastructure and innovation (SDG9), sustainable consumption and production (SDG12), climate change (SDG13), peaceful and inclusive societies, justice, accountable institutions (SDG16), and means of implementation (SDG17)” (FAO - COMMITTEE ON FORESTRY, 2016).

Forests presently cover nearly 4 billion hectares of the Earth’s land area. An estimated 1.6 billion people – 25 per cent of the global population – depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment and income generation.

The launch of the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF) comes at a time of unprecedented opportunity for strengthened action by all actors at all levels around the world, to safeguard the world’s forests and their multiple values, functions and benefits, now and in the future.

In particular, the Plan sets out a framework for action to safeguard the world’s most productive land-based ecosystems and tackle key threats and challenges. In this frame, the Plan features a set of six Global Forest Goals and associated targets:

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