International Day of Forests: Let us not forget the role of forestry workers!

20 April 2017 13:14

"We need to protect our workers’ rights to manage forests sustainably", Secretary General of BWI Ambet Yuson stated on commemorating the International Day of Forests. The BWI and its millions of forest and wood workers' members join the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in commemorating this year’s focus on Forests and Energy.

Wood fuel provides 40% of today’s global renewable energy supply – as much as solar, hydroelectric and wind power combined. About 50 percent of global wood production (around 1.86 billion cubic meters) is used as energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation. For 2.4 billion people, wood fuel means a cooked and more nutritious meal, boiled water, and a warm dwelling (FAO 2017).

FAO estimates that almost 900 million people, mostly in developing countries, are engaged in the wood-energy sector on a part- or full-time basis. However, most of the forestry workers are in precarious jobs, with no coverage of health and safety, little or no rights at all, performing in the informal sector, and unpaid.

The BWI is committed to work with FAO to raise awareness and influence policy makers, both public and private, that without decent work in forestry, without fair valuation for the economic, social, and cultural contributions of forests, these forests will not survive. The role of workers needs to be elevated in order to promote sustainable forestry.

In modernizing the wood energy sector, forest workers and their representatives must be the first ones to be invited into the global debate on forest management and sustainability. Only this partnership can revitalize rural economies and stimulate enterprise development – greater investment in wood energy production and advanced wood fuels can provide revenue to finance better forest management, more growing forests and create more jobs.

Our members do the work, they suffer the costs and bear the burden of unsustainable management of forests, energy use, water, and climate. Until our voices are heard the failed policies of the past decades will continue.

BWI stands ready to cooperate in the global collaborative partnership on forests to raise the voices of workers whose hands are in direct contact with nature to deliver the wood-related products that we consume every day.

Read our position paper on Global Core Forest Indicators towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.