Main Issue

Forests are rooted to the land, intrinsically linked to the health of water, agriculture and biodiversity. At a local level, they provide food and livelihoods to help surrounding communities build better lives. Through wood production, processing, and pulp and paper, the forest sector also contributes enormously to countries’ overall economic health. On a global level, healthy forests can help with both climate change mitigation and adaptation. When a tree falls in a forest, the sound is heard far beyond its borders. Read more+

In recent years, deforestation has been declining due, in part, to the adoption of sustainable forest management (SFM). The United Nations Forum on Forests defines SFM “as a dynamic and evolving concept aims to maintain and enhance the economic, social and environmental value of all types of forests, for the benefit of present and future generations.”

But while many countries have adopted SFM, deforestation rates are still cause for concern. Between 2000-2010, around 13 million ha of forests were converted to agricultural land and other uses or lost through natural causes. The loss of these forests undermines biodiversity, even as it erodes soil and degrades the land. It also increases the vulnerability of communities that depend on forests for their food and livelihoods. 

What We Do

The GEF’s sustainable forest management (SFM) strategy is a catalyst to think and act holistically. In GEF-6, a US$250 million fund encourages developing countries to invest in projects that integrate biodiversity, climate change and land degradation. It also supports forest-related activities within two pilot initiatives: Sustainable Cities – Harnessing Local Action for Global Commons and Taking Deforestation out of Commodity Supply Chains.

This approach goes beyond building synergies within our own work. It also creates links among the three Rio Conventions for which the GEF is the financial mechanism: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). These three conventions, in turn, work in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). Read more+


Since 1992, the GEF has become a key supporter of developing countries’ efforts to sustainably manage their forests. We have funded over 380 forest-related projects, investing over US$2.1 billion. This GEF investment has brought together many stakeholders who have contributed more than US$9.5 billion.

The Greater Mekong Subregion of Southeast Asia brings together Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as Yunnan province in the People’s Republic of China. The GEF supported protected areas, forests, land and watershed management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sustainable livelihoods development. We helped harmonize conservation policies across borders, including efforts to reduce illegal trade in wildlife and forest products. Finally, we developed capacity for maintaining protected areas and mobilized finance for ongoing conservation.