Forestry, wood, pulp and paper sector

Decent work is fundamental to ensuring sustainable and productive forestry operations that are environmentally friendly, safe for those working in them, and benefit the millions of people, many of whom are indigenous and tribal peoples, who depend on forests for their livelihoods, food and shelter.

Currently, at least 33 million people are employed in the forest sector, formally and informally. In some countries and regions, the forestry workforce is getting older, while in others, rural areas need to generate new decent jobs to absorb a growing a growing number of young people.

Decent work deficits such as poor and unsafe working conditions, obstacles to the right to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, inadequate occupational safety and health measures, low productivity, low wages and lack of access to social protection continue to exist in the sector. The deficits are more pronounced among those working in the informal economy, many of whom are women.

At the same time, forests and forestry play a dual role in relation to climate change. While deforestation and forest degradation are major generators of greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable forest management also has the capacity to provide major long-term mitigation benefits.

As forestry is among those sectors likely to be the most seriously affected by structural change in the wake of the green transition, forest workers will need to have the right skills and access to high-quality training and skills upgrading in order to ensuring a just transition in the forest sector.

ILO’s work in the forest sector is guided by the conclusions of the tripartite Sectoral Meeting on Promoting Decent Work and Safety and Health in Forestry (May 2019). Among others, this work includes:
  • Promoting the ratification and effective implementation of international labour standards relevant to the sector;
  • Supporting governments in their data collection and reporting efforts
  • Undertaking research and sharing knowledge on trends and developments, lessons learned and good practices in addressing decent work and OSH challenges and opportunities in the industry;
  • Strengthening the collaboration and partnerships with other international organizations active in the sector with a view to promoting international policy coherence on decent work; and
  • Supporting tripartite constituents to engage in effective social dialogue to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in the forestry industry.