Building back better

– CPF members respond to the COVID-19 crisis



The COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra dimension of urgency to efforts aimed at tackling global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and inequity. Recognizing that the pandemic is the result of a breakdown in the relationship between human systems and natural systems, the focus of responses to it should not be limited to strengthening health systems and economies but should also encompass the protection of ecosystems and the maintenance of their functions.

The CPF urges all to turn the COVID-19 pandemic – a historic challenge – into an opportunity by shifting to greener, more inclusive economies and societies that will ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet [Joint CPF Statement on COVID-19].

CPF members release continuously information on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the forest sector.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) identified and perceived impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on development aspects interconnected with the forest sector, with a particular emphasis on the impacts on the production and trade of forest products. In a policy brief, a series of recommendations as a basis for policy development in the aftermath of the crisis are proposed, and potential opportunities to leverage the progress achieved so far, to ensure that decades of advances are not reversed are highlighted. A second policy brief focuses on the topic of global emergence of infectious diseases and its links with consumption of wild meat, ecosystem disruption, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss. A third policy brief discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on wood value chains and forest sector response based on a global survey conducted in 2020.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) outlined its planned response to COVID-19 helping to address the situation and reduce the probability of new environmental crises emerging in the foreseeable future. The response spans measures to address wildlife trading, deforestation, urban sprawl, and other pressures on ecosystems that are bringing wild animals and humans in dangerous proximity.


The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has undertaken a survey through the ITTO Market Information Service (MIS) and the Trade Advisory Group (TAG) in nine tropical countries which showed that the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are having substantial impacts on the tropical timber sector, with thousands of workers laid off and demand plummeting. Some governments are providing support for workers and companies, but others are yet to react (Survey shines light on COVID-19 impacts on tropical timber sector and Pandemic pandemonium in the tropical timber sector published on 18 April 2023).

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released an information note providing an overview for promoting awareness among environmental organisations on how gender-based violence and environment linkages can be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and suggested steps and resources.

The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) launched a global assessment report on the role of forests in poverty alleviation on 15 October 2020. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and the mounting threat of climate change, forests and trees are vital for the rural poor in countries around the world. However, the poor are rarely able to capture the bulk of benefits from forests. A global science assessment analyses how forests can realize their potential to reduce poverty in a fair and lasting manner. The assessment entitled “Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations” was presented by the IUFRO-led Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Poverty, an initiative of the CPF.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a factsheet on “Investing in forests to build back better greener” focusing on the how forests can contribute to strengthening the resilience of societies and economies.

The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) published the policy brief “Forests: at the heart of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”. The brief is the latest in a series of policy briefs produced by DESA, which look at the impact of COVID-19 from economic, social and sustainable development perspectives.