Impact of COVID-19 on forests and forest sector

Two assessments on the challenges faced by countries, along with the strategies, recovery measures and best practices for reducing the impact of COVID-19 on forests and forest sector in Eastern Europe and in Central Asia

Factsheet

Situation

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO in March 2020, crisis management measures, including social distancing measures and complete and partial lockdowns, were imposed around the world to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the socio-economic impacts. These measures redefined lives and livelihoods around the world as people, families, businesses, and governments coped with the pandemic, the response measures, and the associated challenges. The focus of the report in Eastern Europe includes 23 countries and in Central Asia five countries. The forest sector in two regions has a minor contribution to the national GDPs; however, the socio-economic value of forests plays an important role, especially in rural livelihoods of the region. Forests and sustainable forest management are important elements that contribute to SDGs and climate adaptation and mitigation processes.

Course of action

First, information was collected through an exploratory literature review of existing published studies and reports, news items, and policy briefs. Second, a questionnaire was sent to United Nation Forum on Forests (UNFF) national focal points and other stakeholders from civil society, forest associations, private sector, academia, and other regional organizations in E. Europe and C. Asia. The findings were validated in the virtual workshop with respondents on both regions and in the UNFF Expert Group Meeting.

Result

The main findings regarding the challenges, strategies and recovery measures, and best practices, along with deducted recommendations related the impact of COVID-19 on forests and forest sector were summarized and presented to the stakeholders and participants of the UNFF Expert Group Meeting in February 2022. In conclusion, the multiple benefits of forests were underlined for the post-pandemic period, as sustainably managed forests generate employment, enhance livelihoods, and have positive influence on climate change. Therefore, general recommendation for national stimulus packages to integrate forests and consider a “green recovery”.