In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly designated today, March 21, as the International Day of Forests to raise awareness of the importance of all forest ecosystems.
“When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to forests in one way or another,” reports the UN.
“Forest sustainable management and their use of resources are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet despite all these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.”
According to the UN, around 1.6 billion people are directly dependent on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income. Meanwhile, 10 million hectares of forest are lost every year.
The State of the World’s Forests 2020 report, released by the the Food and Agriculture Association of the United States, notes that deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, and this is a major contributor to the ongoing biodiversity crisis.
“Since 1990, it is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost through conversion to other land uses, although the rate of deforestation has decreased over the past three decades,” says the report.
“Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year, down from 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.”
In the Amazon forest alone, thousands of plant and animal species are threatened with extinction as a direct result of deforestation. The GlobalTreeSearch database reports that there are currently 60,082 tree species in existence. More than 20,000 of these tree species are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
“International Forest Day is a tremendous occasion to celebrate the world’s wildlife and humanities’ achievements in preservation of it, to educate the public on forests and ecosystems. But it is also a suitable opportunity and the right time to address global problems and to mobilize political will to take action,” says the UN.
“Last month, the UN agency on climate change, IPCC, published a report revealing the deadly consequences of climate change for people in all parts of the world in the coming decades. The consequences of climate change are worse than ever, highlighting the importance of global unity.”
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer