Recent trends suggest that the forest sector workforce across the UNECE region is facing considerable challenges. These include an ageing workforce, underrepresentation of women and minorities, as well as declining job opportunities as a result of increased mechanization, reorganization of forestry supply chains, and the rise of information and communication technologies.
Such trends, however, do not account for jobs in areas including forest management integrating landscape and ecosystem management, forest education, monitoring, forest certification and many others, which are on the rise. These professions – even if not publicly perceived as “jobs in forestry” – constitute green jobs in the forest sector and are becoming increasingly important in facilitating the transition towards a sustainable, green economy.
To support countries in ensuring that their forest sector is fully integrated in the green economy, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Forest Europe, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) launched joint Guidelines on the Promotion of Green Jobs in Forestry, which are meant to serve as a blueprint for navigating the integration of the forest sector in a green economy.
The Guidelines highlight that a skilled, motivated and diverse workforce is a prerequisite for realizing the full potential of the forest sector. In order to ensure that the forest sector can attract the workforce fit to meet future challenges, greater attention and foresight need to be given to human resources requirements.
The Guidelines highlight several areas for action. First and foremost, countries need a good understanding of the current workforce in forestry, as well as its future needs. Often, the information on the forest sector workforce, including data on occupational safety and health, is not available, a challenge that can be overcome through stakeholder cooperation, as well as by making the most out of existing sources of data.
Moreover, countries need tailored strategies for addressing the identified gaps in the workers’ competencies; identifying new opportunities emerging from a shift to green economies; assessing their economic sustainability and decency; and introducing measures to attract the workforce of the future. Such strategies need to include outreach and communication plans to make forestry work more relatable, attractive and accessible to women, minorities, youth, and job seekers.
It is important that this transition to a green economy is managed justly, and that it is fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that refer to decent work for all, social inclusion, and poverty eradication.
The Guidelines are the result of joint work of the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section and Forest Europe Liaison Unit in Bratislava. Their consistent application, at national and local levels, in companies and administrations, will contribute to ensuring that the forest sector can attract the workforce it needs to be fit for the future.
The collaboration of the three organizations on the Guidelines is an important step in supporting countries to manage the transition of the forest sector that is fully engaged in a green economy.
To find out more about UNECE/FAO’s work on Green Jobs, please click here.