A worker sands a wooden box in a community-based forest enterprise in Guatemala. Forest enterprises worldwide have been affected by COVID-19. Photo: R. Carrillo/ITTO
A four-day webinar in June to discuss the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the forest sector heard that a focus on sustainable forest management (SFM), incentives and governance would boost the recovery of forestry and forest industries and help in seizing new opportunities. ITTO co-organized a technical session during the webinar and participated in a Sustainable Wood for Sustainable World (SW4SW) roundtable.
The webinar, which was convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 22–25 June 2020, heard from experts from around the world.
The technical session, “The Global Forest Sector and COVID-19: Navigating a Sustainable Future in an Economically and Socially Constrained World”, which was moderated by ITTO’s Steven Johnson, heard views on the impacts of the pandemic and received suggestions on how to build a better post-COVID-19 forest sector. Panellists noted that forests, particularly in the tropics, have suffered a wide range of negative impacts, including a decrease in market demand for forest products, which were especially affecting small and medium-sized forest enterprises. Nevertheless, speakers recognized that the crisis is also creating opportunities, including a chance to increase the use of wood as a substitute for non-renewable, high-carbon-emitting materials and energy.
Suggestions for assisting the private sector included providing sound information on tropical timber markets for decision-making, such as through the ITTO Tropical Timber Market Report; strengthening international cooperation with the private sector to increase the competitiveness of wood products; assisting professional associations and companies to develop and implement SFM plans; and promoting markets for legal and sustainable tropical timber.
The “SW4SW Roundtable: COVID19-Related Impacts on Wood Products Value Chains and Contributions to Building Back Better” analyzed the results of surveys conducted by FAO and ITTO on the impacts of the pandemic on wood value chains and provided recommendations on how to respond and build back better.
The roundtable noted that the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted global supply chains, exposing their fragility and indicating a need to strengthen local supply chains and markets and encourage local innovations to ensure the sustainability of forest-based enterprises. The pandemic has reinforced the vitally important role played by indigenous peoples, smallholders and local communities in food production and nature protection.
During the roundtable, ITTO’s Sheam Satkuru said that tropical forests are under increased pressure due to migration back to rural areas as a result of the pandemic, with a spike in the use of forest resources to support increased local needs for food, fibre and energy. Ms Satkuru said that efforts to overcome the pandemic in the short to medium term should focus on SFM, governance and incentives to ensure a steady supply of wood and other forest goods for sustainable domestic and international consumption. Long-term commitments on SFM and forest landscape restoration need to be enhanced with fiscal/financial incentives and market access to stimulate and ensure sustainable bio-economies, which in turn will strengthen community resilience and thereby help maintain the crucial role of forests in climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
The roundtable noted that promoting SFM for wood production and consumption targeting rural areas is now more relevant than ever and may be an effective post-pandemic response.
Watch the video recording of the technical session, “The Global Forest Sector and COVID-19: Navigating a Sustainable Future in an Economically and Socially Constrained World”
Watch the video recording, The “SW4SW Roundtable: COVID19-Related Impacts on Wood Products Value Chain and Contributions to Building Back Better”
Visit the COVID-19 Forestry Webinar Week page
Download a synthesis and presentations of the technical session, “The Global Forest Sector and COVID-19: Navigating a Sustainable Future in an Economically and Socially Constrained World”