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Toward Sustainability

Managing Forests

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Toward Sustainability of  Forests

In the not-too-distant past, attitudes toward management of the world’s remaining primary forests exhibited a fundamental, and seemingly irreconcilable, dichotomy. Fervent conservationists advocated designating these forests as reserves to ensure protection of their rich biodiversity. Forest managers, in contrast, tended to view them primarily as sources of timber, especially in developing countries where income from timber sales has contributed substantially to national economies.


Lately, however, a major shift in thinking has occurred. It views forests as complex ecosystems that must be managed wisely as part of the landscape to provide a balance of goods and services while minimising long-term environmental damage. Thus, forests should benefit humankind for years to come.

This concept of "sustainability" is now a guiding principle for natural resource management in many countries. Yet management for sustainability is complex, and much remains to be learned about how to achieve it. CIFOR is a leading provider of authoritative information needed to make sustainability of the world’s tropical forests a reality.