When we talk about “the definition of forest”, what is perhaps most striking is the fact that, although there are many definitions of the word “forest” in different parts of the world, there is one definition viewed as more official and international, to which many national governments, institutions and other bodies and organizations adhere. This is the definition of forest developed by FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Now, one would imagine that developing a definition of “forest” would not only require the input of experts, like biologists, ecologists and forest engineers, but would also draw on the deep knowledge of people who live in forests or depend on them for their survival.
However, given the way that FAO defines “forest”, it would certainly appear that these people played no role in the process, and this leads to a series of problems. It is worth noting that FAO does not live in a forest: its headquarters are in Rome, the capital of Italy.