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International Day of Forests and Trees

Join us in Celebrating The International Day of Forests

21 March 2013

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. Help us mark this worldwide event and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood. They are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.

As the Royal Chartered body for foresters and arboriculturists in the UK, the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) is pleased to see the issues surrounding forest ecosystems take centre stage worldwide. ICF regulates the standards of entry to forestry and arboriculture and offers professional qualifications to promote expertise in the tree and woodland management professions.

Shireen Chambers, Excecutive Director of the ICF, commented:

“The first International Day of Forests doesn’t just concern far distant communities who depend on forests for their livelihood – it’s also about how we value and use our forests here in the UK . Woodlands keep us healthy. They are vital to small rural communities in Britain for their wood products and supporting downstream businesses but they are also vital to the population as a whole, for providing fresh air, cleaning our water, providing shade and a place of solace. We need the many benefits that our trees and woodlands provide. We need to ensure they continue to be valued and managed carefully. After all, a UK with no trees is just as frightening a thought as an Amazon basin with no forests.”

Find out more:

International Day of Forests UN Website
International Day of Forests FAO Website
Photo Contest – Nurture Forests for the Future

To celebrate the International Day of Forests, you can share your photos of forests and tree planting initiatives on the FAO website.  Show the world how trees, forests and their surrounding environments make a difference to  communities. A number of different resources including banners, posters and videos are also available.

Message on the International Day of Forests and the Tree, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“Forests are vital for our well-being. They cover nearly a third of the globe and provide an invaluable variety of social, economic and environmental benefits.
Three-fourths of freshwater comes from forested catchment areas. Forests stabilize slopes and prevent landslides; they protect coastal communities against tsunamis and storms. More than 3 billion people use wood for fuel; some 2 billion people depend on forests for sustenance and income, and 750 million live within them.

By proclaiming the International Day of Forests and the Tree, the United Nations has created a new platform to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development.

Forests are often at the frontlines of competing demands. Urbanization and the consumption needs of growing populations are linked to deforestation for large-scale agriculture and the extraction of valuable timber, oil and minerals. Often the roads that provide infrastructure for these enterprises ease access for other forest users who can further exacerbate the rate of forest and biodiversity loss.

Forests are also central to combating climate change. They store more carbon than is in the atmosphere. Deforestation and land-use changes account for 17 per cent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions. As weather patterns alter due to climate change, many forested areas are increasingly vulnerable. This underlines the urgency of a global, inclusive, legally binding climate change agreement that will address greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the protection and sustainable management of forests.

Notwithstanding these immense challenges, there are encouraging signs.
The global rate of deforestation has decreased by almost 20 per cent in the past decade. We need now to intensify efforts to protect forests, including by incorporating them into the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals.

On this first International Day of Forests and the Tree, I urge governments, businesses and all sectors of society to commit to reducing deforestation, preventing forest degradation, reducing poverty and promoting sustainable livelihoods for all forest-dependent peoples.”

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