Prophets, Profits, Prove It: Social Forestry under Pressure
People have throughout their history related to forests and trees in many ways, including as the home of spirits and wild beasts to be appeased, as a hideout for enemies, and as a provider of benefits at local, national, and global scales. The latter includes material outputs (timber, fuelwood, non-timber forest products, and clean water), regulating functions (habitat for two-thirds of global biodiversity in tropical forests, avoidance of landslides and floods, modified regional climate, possible influences on rainfall, and terrestrial carbon storage), spiritual experience, and landscape beauty. The word “forest,” however, refers not only to an ecosystem with trees but also to a specific institutional arrangement. Today, more than seven billion humans share the planet with approximately three trillion trees; about a quarter of these trees live outside forests, and 45% of trees and 40% of people live in the tropics.