This year the International Day of Forests (IDF) will seek to raise awareness on how sustainably managed forests provide a wide array of contributions in this area.
IDF is celebrated annually on 21 March since 2012 and focuses on the importance of all type of trees and woodland. IDF 2019 is themed “Forests and Education”.
So why are forests important and why should we care?
- Absorbing and storing carbon: Growing trees soak up CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their trunks, roots, leaves and forest soils.
- Home to people: Three hundred million people around the world actively live in forests and depend on them directly as sources of food, medicine and livelihoods.
- Source of jobs and livelihoods: More than 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests to some extent for their livelihood. Some 60 million indigenous people are completely dependent on forests for all aspects of their survival. About 10 million people are employed in forest management and conservation around the world.
- Wood for furniture, lumber, firewood and other products: About 30% of the world’s forests are used for production of wood and non-wood products (such as food, resins and medicines).
- Habitat for mammals, birds, insects: Forests are home to almost half of the world’s species, with some of the richest biodiversity found in tropical forests.
- Preventing flooding: During times of heavy rainfall, lowland swamp forests help to absorb water and slow flood flows, preventing damage to soil, property and buildings.
- Conserving soil and water: Trees are an important part of the water cycle. By allowing water to filter into the soil instead of running off, trees can preserve groundwater supplies that are important both to people as drinking water and also to fish and other aquatic life in nearby streams. Trees help hold soil in place, reducing erosion by both water and wind.
- Regulating regional climate: In cities, trees provide cooling shade for homes and buildings and help reduce energy usage for air conditioning in the summer. When planted strategically, they can provide effective wind barriers. Large forests also play a role in weather and rainfall patterns and micro-climates.