Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate: according to the World Resources Institute, 46% of the world's old growth forests have been destroyed. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and military groups, increasing corruption, and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state, and the business sector.
Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict, because they tend to be remote and inaccessible, located on disputed land, home to multiple ethnic groups and minority populations, lacking government presence, and claimed simultaneously by several different groups. In addition, the majority of forest-dwelling and forest-dependent households suffers from poverty, lack public services, have been poorly integrated into national democratic institutions, and often resent that outsiders capture most of the benefits from forest resources. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests, and to fully develop forest's potentials for increasing livelihood security and development.