healthy food

Transforming food systems with trees and forests



  • The global food system is failing to deliver sufficient and nutritious food to all while damaging the earth and unsustainably drawing down its resources. Trees and forests are essential to solving these challenges of achieving better healthy diets and environmental sustainability.
  • Trees and forests provide nutrient-rich foods, incomes for food security, ecosystem services for food production, and add resilience to food systems. At the same time, trees and forests protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration.
  • The authors recommend four approaches to realize the full potential of trees and forests to contribute to healthy and sustainable food systems: scaling up current tree-based food production, reorientating some agricultural investments and production incentives from the support of nutrient-poor foods to support, and integrating nutrition objectives into forest conservation and restoration programs.


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A large variety of nutrient-rich edible wild foods comes from forests.


10 Reasons why trees and forests are crucial for transforming the food system


Trees and forests have important roles to play in the transformation of our food systems:

  1. More than half of all human-consumed fruits and all nuts grow on trees.
  2. A large variety of nutrient-rich edible wild foods comes from forests.
  3. Many wild animals that provide meat for food-insecure rural communities depend on forests for their habitats.
  4. Human access to dairy and meat can be enhanced by the livestock fodder provided by forests and trees.
  5. Nutritional security can be achieved through combinations of micronutrient-rich tree foods on farms.
  6. Seasonal food gaps are mitigated by access to foods.
  7. A large portion of global food crops is pollinated by bees, insects, and other animals that depend on forests for nesting and foraging.
  8. Crop yields can be boosted with trees due to their ability to regulate microclimate, prevent soil erosion, regulate pests, and increase water availability.
  9. Trees on farms could stop and reverse the trend of land degradation and declining yields by protecting and restoring soil quality.
  10. Households with access to tree-based production systems are less vulnerable to weather shocks and more resilient to climate change.

Learn more about Sustainable and inclusive food systems 🌳

Author: Ickowitz, A., McMullin, S., Rosenstock, T., Dawson, I., Rowland, D., Powell, B., ... & Nasi, R.

Publisher: Viewpoint

Language: English

Year: 2022

Ecosystem(s): Forests

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