Sustainable forest management and international forest policy

© GIZ/Stella Marraccini

The destruction of forests destroys livelihoods. Development can only be achieved through sustainable forest management.


Forests are a livelihood, a source of income and a land reserve. Some 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods; 350 million people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for their survival.

Forests are also of global importance for the climate. They contribute to the degradation of greenhouse gases, form oxygen, and play an important role in regulating the water balance and adapting to climate change. In addition, they are home to more than two thirds of terrestrial biological diversity.

This important habitat is under threat, as every year around eight million hectares of forest are lost worldwide, which is equivalent to the area of the federal state of Bavaria. It is man's fault, especially in industrialised and emerging countries: Forests are being cleared to meet the growing international demand for meat, soya, palm oil and other agricultural products, biofuels, mineral resources and wood. In addition, land speculation generates high short-term returns, which can also lead to overexploitation.

Many countries recognize the urgency of counteracting the progressive destruction of forests. However, their state institutions are often too weak to prevent corruption and overexploitation.

On behalf of the Federal Government, GIZ is committed to sustainable forest use and the protection of forests. The aim is to combine sustainable forest use with positive effects for the economy, the environment and society.


These are the GIZ's starting points:

  • Technical and political advice
  • Development of future perspectives
  • Mediation between different social interests
  • Participation in international measures to protect forests
  • Supporting partners in adapting to international agreements, initiatives and approaches such as -REDD+, where partner countries are financially compensated when deforestation is prevented and emissions have been demonstrably reduced,
  • FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade): This is an EU control system designed to prevent the import of illegally harvested timber.
  • FLR (Forest Landscape Restoration): Countries voluntarily undertake to restore tree-rich landscapes.


The GIZ promotes numerous individual measures to support forest conservation, sustainable forest management and the restoration of forest landscapes. These include:

  • Improving forest legislation and export regulations for timber and timber products
  • Planning of land use and land management
  • The division of forests into zones and the controlled allocation of forest areas
  • Strengthening rights of use for indigenous peoples and traditional local people
  • Community forest management and forest certification
  • Strengthening environmental control bodies
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Better value creation and the introduction of deforestation-free supply chains
  • Financing strategies or methods for the economic valuation of ecosystem services
  • Reconstruction of forest and tree-rich landscapes.