Jan McAlpine, director of the U.N. Forum on Forests Secretariat, made the remarks as countries gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to discuss forestry-related issues.
"I would argue that forests are one of the complex systems to understand and grasp," Jan McAlpine told delegates. "And one reason why we haven't been able to do it effectively is because sometimes it's simpler to take a narrow issue and address it, rather than to be able to look at a system as complex as forests and see how it fits into the landscape of these broader sets of issues."
Delegates at the forum will examine ways to reduce deforestation, improve the livelihoods and economies of people who depend on forests, increase the number of forests under protection and increase aid to developing countries to improve forest management, a U.N. release said Tuesday.
Established by the U.N. Economic and Social Council in 2000, the Forum of Forests is tasked with promoting the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
"People are the most important challenge" to forests, McAlpine said.
"I don't mean that they necessary have the intention to be negative, but because they don't understand the complexities and the importance of forests and their value, they have ignored them to the detriment of those resources for the future, and that is probably the biggest challenge," she said.