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Estimating global forest-based employment

There has been an ongoing interest in how important forests are for employment and what measures need to be taken to reduce decent work deficits. This study aims to contribute to the existing debate on the extent of informal and subsistence employment globally, with a particular focus on the forestry and logging sub-sector. Estimates on employment numbers not captured in the official statistics are aggregated with the recent official reported data to demonstrate a partial overview of global forest-based employment. The previous estimation method is extended by incorporating clustering techniques in response to the paucity of available labour productivity rates. Related employment and production data compiled by FAO are used as a basis of analyses. Main findings reveal that at least two-thirds of the entire forestry and logging-based employment is informal or subsistence. Estimates are highly concentrated in developing countries where decent forestry work need to be strengthened most. Aggregating official employment statistics and our additional estimates, the global forest-related workforce amounts to at least 64 million persons FTE in 2015. The study can be considered a step towards a more profound assessment approach in estimating informal and subsistence employment in the global forest sector based on the officially reported statistics. Disaggregated data based on employment status and gender is essential for improving the indirect estimation of the forest sector’s informal economy and thus requires more attention by policymakers in the near future.

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