Forest Diversity

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Forest genetic diversity enables forests and trees to adapt to changing and adverse conditions. There are an estimated 80,000–100,000 tree species, but fewer than 500 have been studied in-depth.

About 1.6 billion people worldwide derive a portion of their food and livelihood from forests. Sixty million people live in the forests of Latin America, Southeast Asia and West Africa, while a total of 350 million people live in, or near, dense forests and rely on them for subsistence or income. Approximately 1.2 billion people in the South use trees on farms to generate food and cash.

Forest biodiversity depends on protecting forest-dependent livelihoods. Tropical, temperate and boreal forests collectively hold the majority of the world’s terrestrial species – plants, animals and microorganisms. Over the past 8,000 years, we have lost 45 per cent of the Earth’s original forest cover as most of it was cleared in the 20th century.

Links and Resources

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2012). State of the World’s Forests. Retrieved from
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2011, July). Climate Change and Forest Genetic Resources – State of Knowledge, Risks and Opportunities. Retrieved from

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