Forests are a crucial element not only of landscapes but also of human living conditions. Covering nearly a third of the earth's land surtace, they stabilize surface soil, prevent erosion and play an essential role in water resource management at the watershed and local levels. They regulate climate and improve air quality. At the same time they are an important resource for the regional economy (wood production, recreation and tourism) and are an important cultural and social heritage of the local and regional human activities. They provide habitats for a multitude of animal and plant species and are essential for the biological diversity in forest ecosystems over large areas. Likewise, for centuries, forests have served humans as shelter or a place for natural safety for communities during times of famine or other events that impact agricultural and food production: forests provide fruits, leaves, gum, nuts, timber and wood for fuel. Thus, throughout history, forests supported peoples' livelihoods, especially when crops failed.
Luque, Sandra; Iverson, Louis. 2016. Forest-related ecosystem services. In: Potschin, Marion; Haines-Young, Roy; Fish, Robert; Turner, R. Kerry. Routledge Handbook of ecosystem services. New York, NY: Routledge: 383-393. Chapter 30.