Around one third of the earth's surface is under forest cover which is distributed more or less equally between industrialised and developing countries. Whereas forest areas in the temperate and boreal climate zones are more or less stable or on the increase, the scale of deforestation and forest degradation in the tropics remains dramatic. This situation is likely to continue in the decades to come because the world's ever-growing population needs new agricultural land and the pressure on resources (forest products, land, water, minerals) continues to increase as a result of globalisation and global change. Moreover, sustainable forest management has not yet become standard practice in many southern countries because forest management can rarely compete with other forms of land use in terms of economic returns. The protection and sustainable management of forest resources is basically the responsibility of each individual country and cannot be regulated and financed globally. However, enormous financial resources, i.e. on a scale of tens of billions of Swiss francs per year, are required for the introduction of comprehensive land-use planning in developing countries incorporating suitable protection of natural forests and sustainable forest management. New approaches for the valorisation of services provided by forests such as carbon sinks (e.g. REDD+) offer significant potential for improving forest protection and sustainable forest management. It augurs well that the economic internalisation of the forest and its services is in full swing at global level and that, based on the REDD+ resolutions passed at the last climate conference in Cancún, many countries have opted for the path of forest conservation and sustainable forest management.

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