33 Million Persons work in the Forest Sector

33 Million Persons work in the Forest Sector

Do you know how many people are at present employed in the forest sector? An estimated 33 million people work in the forest sector, according to the latest analysis from the International Labour Organisation.

In the new analysis, the authors point out that Asia accounted for just 15 per cent of the world’s forest areas, almost two-thirds of global forest sector workers were in this region.

Though forest sector includes agricultural activities, namely forestry and logging, but most activities are in manufacturing, said the ILO who did the analysis along with Thünen-Institute of Forestry. More than half of the sector’s employment (58 per cent) is in the manufacture of wood and products of wood, with another 18 per cent in pulp and paper manufacture, the report said.


The analysis also points out that the present global employment figure represented an overall decline of 15 per cent when compared to the 39.5 million persons employed in forest-related activities between 2011 and 2013. “This change is most visible in the Americas and Asia. Meanwhile, the number of forest workers increased in Africa and remained essentially unchanged in Europe and Oceania. The overall decline is partly explained by the increased levels of mechanization and consequent labour productivity gains,” it said.


Women comprise less than a quarter of total employment in forest-related activities between 2017 and 2019, according to estimates using data from 69 countries. The report said that this lessening of numbers could be because of the nature of forest sector work. Tasks in logging and wood-based industries typically require intensive physical labour, which can hinder female participation. Rather, female workers tend to perform less physical tasks, such as silvicultural work and administrative duties. Women also engage in gathering non-wood forest products or producing charcoal, which often are viewed as household chores or subsistence activities and thus do not get captured as employment in the statistics, the report said. 


The report also mentioned that Forest sector comprised one of the largest informal employment. Estimates based on 56 countries with available data show that 77 per cent of forest-related employment was informal between 2017 and 2019. In Africa and Asia, this estimate surpasses 80 per cent of the total forest-related employment, 10 percentage points above the informal employment rate in all economic activities.


Work in the forest sector is characterized by high degrees of informality and seasonality and it is often reported as a secondary or tertiary job. This makes it more challenging to capture the full extent of the forest-related workforce, in addition to other methodological challenges caused by the data availability, units of measurement and country coverage., the analysis said.

Forests currently cover 31 per cent of the global land area, although they are not equally distributed around the globe. More than half of the world’s forests are found in only five countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) and two-thirds (66 per cent) of forests are found in ten countries.


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