Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, said forests can help overcome global challenges such as food security, climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
Qu made the remarks in a keynote speech at the opening of the 15th World Forestry Congress in Seoul on Monday, saying forests and trees offer cost-effective and equitable solutions and can help overcome multiple global threats.
To build a green, healthy and resilient future with forests, Qu said the whole world is required to halt deforestation in a bid to avoid significant greenhouse gas emissions.
It could safeguard more than half of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity, which is a key provider of ecosystem services for sustainable agriculture.
The FAO chief said countries must restore degraded lands through afforestation and reforestation and expand agroforestry so as to remove carbon dioxide in a cost-effective way.
The sustainable use of existing forests and building a green value chain will help meet future demand for more renewable materials, Qu said, citing the example of using sustainable wood in construction.
"We must substantially increase investment in these three inter-linked forest-based pathways," said Qu.
The new investment must be scaled up in areas such as climate finance, green recovery programs and private investment support, Qu added.