Three years ago, the United Nations General Assembly voted on Resolution A/RES/67/200 declaring that March 21st of each year is to be observed as the International Forest Day. It quickly became a unique global event gathering millions people and engaging discussion on the importance of our forests. The Resolution initially invited All UN Member States to encourage green initiatives towards forest protection and development. But over the year, small communities took the lead on this initiative by implementing A/RES/67/200 recommendations, communicating and taking actions towards a better future.
They sustain life… all life
With over 300 million people worldwide living in forests and 1.6 billion depending on their products for daily basic needs, forests remain an essential factor to our socio-economic system. Contrary to popular belief, forests are a lot more than just a collections of trees — they are the essence of our lives. They protect us as we grow, clean the air we breathe, purify the water we drink and provide us with food and health we need. Forests are also the primary habitat for billions of plants and animals. But for many years, we have failed to ensure their proper growth. We therefore shall protect and encourage initiatives striving towards sustainable forests growth.
They provide shelter, employment and a solution to climate change
The USDA Forest Services reported in 2013, that about 1.7 million people were directly employed in the planting, growing or management of forests. Forest products also sustain our economy by offering us ecosystem services for shelters and heating system; while providing a rich variety plants often used as medicinal remedies.
In regard to the environment, our forests are one of our most powerful tool in the battle against climate change. They assist us in the reduction and stabilization of atmospheric/terrestrial greenhouse gases and provide us with alternative sources of energy. Moreover, the ongoing efforts of maintaining sustainable forest management have been proven to enhance the success of global environmental agreements.
Earth Day Network is also celebrating the third year of the Canopy Project aiming to work closely with local communities and government officials to facilitate the implementation of new strategy plans, the protection of natural lands and the preservation of our environment.
Since its creation in 2012, the Canopy project planted over a billion trees in 18 countries providing local communities with food, fuel, fencing, and soil stability.
They are adoptable but not infinitely
However, as we celebrate this day, we shall all remember the existing income inequality, uneven access to natural resources, unsustainable food productions, deforestation and many other challenges facing the world. But we shall also recognize and acknowledge the ability of forests to mitigate and adapt to our changing environment. However, before taking the next step forward, we need all parties to join the discussion, we need to engage the global community and raise awareness about the importance of protecting our forests, halting deforestation along with all unsustainable forest practices while encouraging community-based efforts to sustain local developments. We must redefine our meaning of forestry, economy and development in order to meet the need of the current growing communities.
This anniversary marks the beginning of a new phase — a greener one.
It is time for us to take actions. It is our turn to lead!
Today, let’s all think about our forests and sustain them.
Plant a tree, Plant our future
Salima B Mahamoudou, Intern