Forests in the Green Economy


Forests provide—for people and for nature. How can the choices you make as a consumer of wood and paper products help improve the health of forests and contribute to a Green Economy—one that improves human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities?

Explore this infographic to find out.

Enter to click on various icons and see the many ways forests provide for a truly Green Economy. Then, click to see where YOUR wood comes from and how YOU as a consumer can help save forests.











Deforestation and unsustainable logging are responsible for roughly 15% of global carbon pollution—comparable to all the cars, trains and planes in the world. In spite of this, the planet’s few remaining carbon-rich rainforests continue to be logged and cleared destructively for short-term profits.

LEARN MORE about the Conservancy's work with local loggers in Indonesia—where 80% of total carbon pollution
comes from deforestation—on forest-friendly logging practices that can reduce carbon emissions by more than 35% and preserve biodiversity, all while maintaining timber yields.

Forests act as natural filters and regulators of water flow throughout wet and dry seasons. For example, the forests of the 568,000 acre Lore Lindu National Park in Indonesia supply an estimated US $8.9 million worth of clean water annually, not only to the 70 villages in and around the park, but to an additional 350,000 downstream city-dwellers.

LEARN MORE about how rivers support life as we know it and see how the Conser- vancy is working with partners around the world—from China’s mighty Yangtze River to a growing number of rivers, lakes and streams across Latin America—to keep clean water flowing for people and nature.

Globally, the forestry sector generates an estimated US $470 billion and provides at least 60 million full-time jobs every year, 80% of which take place in developing countries. This does not take into account unrecorded, informal and temporary jobs, of which there are likely millions more.

LEARN MORE about the Conservancy's work with partners to promote widespread uptake of sustainable forest management as a model for "green growth" through the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade program (RAFT).

At least 70% of new drugs introduced in the United States in the last three decades are derived from natural sources. Around 80% of people living in developing countries rely on medicine made from herbal plants. As healthy forests are lost, we lose an important source of drugs and treatments, not to mention cures that have yet to be discovered.

Forests help soil retain moisture and cycle nutrients, in turn reducing erosion and improving the quality of soil. Forests are also home to many of the insect and animal species that pollinate the world’s food crops. In spite of this, agricultural expansion often takes place at the expense of forests. This is unnecessary and could ultimately threaten many of the crops that economies and populations depend on.

LEARN MORE about the Conservancy’s work to support holistic and participatory decisions about where agricultural development takes place, allowing for a more naturally productive relationship between agriculture and forestry.

Forests cover almost 1/3 of the world’s land area, and nearly all of them are inhabited by indigenous and rural communities that have been managing the environment through their own traditional knowledge, practices, rules and beliefs for generations. In many countries, insecure land rights and indiscriminate development threaten such customary systems and sacred spiritual areas.

LEARN MORE about how the Conservancy is working with the people of Wehea Forest in Indonesia to help protect their cultural identity and ensure that they have something to pass on to their grandchildren.

More than half of the wood products consumed in major markets come from somewhere else. In 2010, the United States was the top buyer of wood furniture from the Asia Pacific region. And yet, only 10-20% of imported wood and paper products in the United States come from certified sustainably managed forests.

LEARN MORE about Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification—the most widely recognized standard for sustainable forest management on the market—and how making responsible choices about what you buy can help ensure that forests continue to provide for future generations.

The forests of Asia Pacific provide shelter for a vast number of beautiful but vulnerable and endangered animals including orangutans, sun bears and clouded leopards. But in Indonesia, home to 17% of the planet’s known terrestrial species, half of those forests are likely to be logged.

LEARN MORE about the wildlife of Asia Pacific — often found inside timber concessions — that the Conservancy and partners are working to protect.

Forest resources directly contribute to the livelihoods of roughly 1 billion people around the world living in extreme poverty. In Asia Pacific, the world’s most densely populated region, more than 500 million people depend on forests for subsistence and income. In 2011, the annual value of non-timber forest products was an estimated US $7.4 billion.

LEARN MORE about the Conservancy’s work to support sustainable incomes through Fair Trade products and help create other development benefits by bringing villages together to manage their forests sustainably in Papua New Guinea.

The coffee table in your living room may have taken a long journey to get there: from a tree in Indonesia, to a factory in China and shipped overseas to a warehouse in California, before arriving in your favorite home improvement store.

There are costs to these complex global supply chains that, while largely unknown to buyers of wood and paper products, are painfully obvious for people and nature in the places wood is taken from.

Since 1990, nearly 100 million acres of forest have been lost in the Asia Pacific region. Much of this is the result of illegal and destructive logging, often to produce furniture and flooring bound for the global market.




US $1+ Billion

US $100-999 Million

US $1-99 Million

Source: UN COMTRADE 2010


Share this infographic and
join the global fight for forests.

The next time you buy a forest product, consider the environmental and social impact your choice has on people and forests—either in your community, across the country or on the other side of the world.

1/Find out what it means to be FSC-certified

Many of us assume that the products we buy are legally obtained and have not caused harm to people or ecosystems. But without independent, third-party verification—which is required to obtain FSC certification—the risk is high that a product’s supply chain involved injustice and environmental damage somewhere along the way.

2/Buy wood and paper products
with the FSC logo

If you can’t find any, ask a salesperson. Sometimes they are available but not labeled because of limited consumer recognition — which you can help change by asking for them.

3/Ask where wood and paper
products come from

In places where FSC-certified products are not available, ask where their products come from and if they have been legally and sustainably sourced all the way from forest to sales floor. Encourage retailers to know this information and why it is important.

4/Support the efforts of The Nature
Conservancy and our partners

We've already helped get more than 3 million acres of Southeast Asia's forests FSC-certified and we're working to increase that number every day. Sign up to receive updates about our work, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and check out our blog.


Responsible forestry and trade helps ensure that forests can continue to support a truly Green Economy

Forests and the Green Economy Key Terms

The Food and Agricultural Office of the United Nations (FAO) defines deforestation as the permanent depletion of forest cover to less than 10 percent.

Endangered Species:
According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), an endangered species is one that is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, as measured by an established set of criteria.

Extreme Poverty:
The World Bank defines extreme poverty as average daily consumption of $1.25 or less and means living on the edge of subsistence.

Forest Stewardship Council:
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. FSC facilitates the development of standards, ensures monitoring of certified operations and protects the FSC trademark so consumers can choose products that come from well managed forests.

Green Economy:
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) defines the green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities…one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

Non-Timber Forest Products:
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines non-timber forest products as products of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests.

Sustainable Forest Management:
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines sustainable forest management as the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfill, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.

Sustainable Livelihood:
The Institute of Development Studies defines livelihood as the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, while not undermining the natural resource base.



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