The use of forests as a primary food source is being examined this week at a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation coordinated meeting, in Quebec City, Canada.

The World Forestry Congress will debate how foods – many naturally occurring – offer developing country communities “a much-needed safety net, helping people get by between harvest seasons, when crops fail or during times of drought, famine or social strife.”

Specialists will also debate how forests support livestock production with fodder, and, for example in coastal mangrove swamps, support fisheries. The meeting is expected to stress the need to conserve forests for these reasons, and also because they help filter and maintain water supplies, prevent soil erosion and moderate climates, benefiting conventional food production.