Why Population Matters to Forests

Deforestation threatens the well-being and livelihoods of millions of people who heavily depend on forest resources. It is particularly devastating for women and children in poor rural communities. Yet deforestation is occurring at alarmingly high rates, especially in areas of the world that have high levels of population growth. Providing men and women with family planning to achieve their desires for smaller family sizes is a priority that will address forest decline and empower families.

Efforts to ease pressure on forests and manage them sustainably will require a combination of strategies that address both the direct and underlying causes of forest decline. These approaches include monetary and fiscal policies that reduce prices and demand for agricultural land and forestry products, as well as institutional reforms that address land tenure and property rights to ensure sustainable forest management. They also include measures to slow the rate of population growth, such as improving access to voluntary family planning services and investing in girls’ education.