Forest landscapes are complex socio-environmental systems. The degree to which forests support human livelihoods, and humans affect forest ecology, depends in part on the spatial relationship between people and forests. Here, we estimate the number of people who live in and around forests globally. We combined forest cover and human population density data to map the spatial relationship between people and forests on a global scale in 2000 and 2012. Globally, 1.6 billion rural people lived within 5 km of a forest in 2012. Of these, 64.5% lived in tropical countries and 71.3% lived in low-income, lower-middle-income, or upper-middle-income countries. We propose the term “forest-proximate people” to refer to people who live in and around forests. Forest proximity is related to, but not synonymous with, forest dependency. Our findings have implications for researchers and decision-makers interested in forest conservation, forest livelihoods, and sustainable socio-economic development in communities in and around forests.
- land use change
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)