Mar 8, 2022
What is International Day of Forests and when is it?
The United Nations International Day of Forests explained – what it is, when it takes place and how to support trees and forests.
International Day of Forests is the day we celebrate the forest and all it has to offer us humans and the planet. But when is it and why is it important?
International Day of Forests is an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s beautiful forests. Also simply called forest day, individuals, communities and businesses around the world can learn more about the health of the world's forests and the vital role they play in the wellbeing of our planet.
Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to support forests through buying trees or supprting biodiversity conservation projects. That's why for the team here at EcoTree, who work in sustainable forestry every day, International Day of Forests is one of the most important days of the year.
When is International Day of Forests?
International Day of Forests takes place on 21 March every year and has different annual themes, such as tree planting, climate and energy. The theme for International Day of Forests 2023 is 'forests and health'.
We’ve been sharing the health benefits that forests bring for many years now, so we love this year’s theme. The world’s forests purify our water, help clean the air that we breathe and are one of our greatest carbon sinks, which makes them a vital part of the fight against climate change.
Of course, our forests are also crucial to the planet’s food ecosystem and provide the raw materials that lead to live-saving medicines. Our wellbeing as a species is directly linked to the wellbeing of the natural world, so it’s more important than ever that we work together to protect our forests.
There are social health-related benefits too. Who doesn’t enjoy spending time in the forest or finding ways to make nature a more integral part of our communities? International Day of Forests celebrates all of these things and this year’s theme is there to remind us just how much we rely on healthy forest environments.
UN member states are encouraged to create and participate in local, national and international forestry initiatives. The day is also a good opportunity for individuals and companies to get involved and support forests through their own initiatives or local projects.
Who organises International Day of Forests?
International Day of Forests was created by the UN at the UN General Assembly in 2012. The first official forest day was celebrated in 2013.
Before that, there was a special day for forests called World Forestry Day, which also took place on 21 March each year. It was started by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 1971.
Then from 2007–2012, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) teamed up with The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) to run six annual Forest Days held in different cities all over the world.
This was all building up to what we now know as the International Day of Forests. The first event wasmheld in Warsaw, Poland alongside the 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP19)
Why is the day important?
At EcoTree, we consider International Day of Forests to be one of the most important celebrations of the year. And it's not just because we love forests and trees – forests are extremely important to all humans, our planet and the many places under threat from climate change.
Here are some figures that put the International Day of Forests in perspective.
- About 80% of the planet's biodiversity on land is found in forests
- About 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, protection, energy, medicines or their income
- Every year, a forest area about the size of Iceland disappears
Forests are carbon sinks that absorb carbon dioxide and help in the fight against climate change. Forests are also home to animals, plants and many people across the world. They create fresh air for us to breathe, stop erosion and prevent flooding. Sustainable forestry means forests are also a source of renewable material and create many jobs.
Finally, forests are socially important too.They are part of the fabric of our societies and the places we go to walk, hike, ride and take a break from our daily lives. They are part of who we are as humans.
International Day of Forests and Agenda 2030
International Day of Forests is linked to several of the 17 sustainability goals set out in the UN's 2030 agenda.
Objective 15 on ecosystems and biodiversity is a big one, but also:
- Objective 6 – clean water and sanitation
- Objective 7 – sustainable energy for all
- Objective 12 – sustainable consumption and production
We already know that forests and trees are an important piece of the puzzle as we try to solve a number of major, global challenges.
More and more people are aware of the effect forests have on climate change, but that is just the beginning. Trees play a vital role in creating and nurturing rich, biodiverse habitats. And forests produce the raw materials that make us less dependent on polluting or otherwise harmful alternatives.
Get involved and support forests
There is a lot you can do if you want to take part in International Day of Forests this year. Look out for local green events and opportunities that allow you to support forests in different ways, such as tree planting days and guided walks.
You could also use forest day to change some habits in your everyday life. For example, you could decide to reduce the amount of paper and cardboard you use, make plans to recycle more, or find ways to switch to more sustainable ways of living.
Become a tree owner
Here at EcoTree, we make it easy for anyone to help us tackle climate change by owning a tree in our forests. We believe in sustainable forestry, protecting biodiversity, and our work is very much in line with the UN’s goals for sustainable development.