International Day of Forests: International Day of Forests is marked on March 21 every year in order to celebrate all types of forests, as well as raising awareness regarding their importance in our lives. On this day, all countries across the globe are encouraged to take up activities related to forests and trees at local, national and international levels. International Day of Forests was proclaimed on March 21 by the United Nations General Assembly back in 2012 and has been celebrated every year since, and it is organised by the United Nations Forum on Forests and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
Significance of forests
Forests are the key to maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Forests help maintain the requisite amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, which is necessary for the survival of several species, including humans, they prevent soil erosion, and also help in storing water underground. About 80% of the terrestrial biodiversity in the world lives in forests, and according to the UN, about 160 crore people in the world directly depend on forests for income, medicine, shelter, energy as well as food.
Sustainable management of forests can play a major role in combating climate change. This is because global warming is caused by excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This imbalance in the air is mostly due to human activities of deforestation as well as excessive greenhouse gas emissions. However, if humans plant more trees, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be restored, since trees would take in carbon dioxide for their survival and instead release oxygen.
The need to celebrate International Day of Forests
Despite global outcry about climate change, people being taught about the importance of forests, deforestation all over the world is taking place at an alarming rate, mainly in the name of development of modern urban societies. This, even as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rely heavily on a strong forest ecosystem, according to the UN. Such mass deforestation is a cause of concern precisely because of these benefits of forests which cannot be replicated by anything else.
This is why the UN has also been calling for mass restoration of forests all over the world.