Teak logs at a traditional sawmill (Bali, Indonesia) A. Rival © CIRAD

Forest resources

Forests cover almost a third of the Earth's land area, half of which – two million hectares – is in warm regions. Natural and planted forests have a major social, economic and ecological impact on a global level, for the planet, and also on a national and local level for individual countries, firms and people. CIRAD supplies the scientific bases required for sustainable management of natural or planted forest ecosystems in humid and drier regions, so as to boost their contribution to the development of countries and people in the global South.

The figures for forests

Tropical forests represent half the forests worldwide and are home to more than half the Earth's terrestrial species. They play a vital role in conserving biodiversity and capturing carbon 1 hectare of tropical forest stores 200 tonnes of carbon on average in the aerial parts of its trees (trunk, branches and leaves).
However, tropical forests are in danger. Over the past 30 years, 400 million hectares of tropical forests – an average of 13 million hectares a year – have disappeared. Most have been converted to agricultural land or industrial plantations, but some have been destroyed by fire.
Preserving tropical forests therefore means sustainable management of their resources to benefit rural communities and society in general.

The issues

  • Developing and promoting sustainable natural forest ecosystem management methods
  • Developing plantations capable of satisfying demand for wood for various purposes, and promoting their role in maintaining the major ecological and climatic equilibria
  • Taking account of forest ecosystems and the related supply chains in international and national policy.