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Green jobs grow in the forest

The green economy is creating new job opportunities in the forest sector in a variety of areas, such as recreation, leisure and sports, ecotherapy, urban forestry or pests, fire and disease control.

Until recently, forest jobs were mostly associated with traditional silviculture and timber harvesting activities. However, the potential for the creation of new job opportunities is now enhancing all forest ecosystem functions. Examples of green forest jobs, emerging tasks and functions which can lead to new employment opportunities in the forest are summarized in the recent UNECE/FAO publication “Green Jobs in the Forest Sector” which builds on the work of the UNECE/FAO Team of Specialists on Green Jobs in the Forest Sector (Joint ILO/UNECE/FAO Expert Network).

The study also identifies “green” skills needed for the careers of the future. New, environmentally-driven competencies will feature the application of new technologies and business management models. New careers will stem from enhanced awareness of environmental and social consequences of economic activities in the forests and the willingness to apply sustainable development values at the workplace.  

In this spirit, more than 30 forest experts participating in the UNECE/FAO workshop on “Green Forest Jobs: Exploring Opportunities and Increasing the Capacity of UNECE Member States”, taking place in Geneva on 17-18 September 2018, concluded that the management of forest ecosystem services is the way for creation of green jobs in the forest sector.

Green forest jobs will help retaining jobs in many small and medium-sized enterprises and will create new employment opportunities for professional groups who may incur jobs losses in the process of transition to a green economy. They can also facilitate the integration into the labor market of other vulnerable groups, such as young people, women or rural populations.

The further development of green jobs in the forest sector will strongly depend on the revision of existing curricula aiming to address existing skill gaps and to adapt to new career paths. This will also improve the public perception of forest sector, as an innovative sector attracting qualified workers and offering modern careers in a green economy. Therefore, continuous dialogue on the future of green jobs in the forest sector is crucial and green jobs are one of the key activities the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section.

UNECE and FAO, together with ILO, are leading organizations in the work on green jobs in the forest sector. They collaborate with a number of international and local stakeholders on defining, describing and promoting green forest jobs, related competencies, education and training for the forest sector in the context of a green economy.