July 6 (UPI) -- A United Nations agricultural report Friday urges world governments to better manage shrinking forests, end deforestation and restore those that have been degraded.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's State of the World's Forests report said in addition to shade, absorption of carbon dioxide, animal habitation and lumber, forests provide about 20 percent of rural household income in developing countries.
It said forests are also responsible for providing fuel, to heat and cook, for one-third of the global population.
"Deforestation, chiefly caused by the conversion of forest land to agriculture and livestock areas, threatens not only the livelihoods of foresters, forest communities and indigenous peoples, but also the variety of life on our planet," the report said. "How to increase agricultural production and improve food security without reducing forest area is one of the great challenges of our times."
"Deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels and accounts for nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the world's entire transport sector."
Forestry conservation has an impact on many of the 17 global goals established by the United Nations three years ago as "sustainable development goals."
"We have greater evidence on how forests are critical to livelihoods of the world's poorest, with a better understanding of the trade-offs and more exact confirmation that healthy and productive forests are essential to sustainable agriculture," said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.