International Day of Forests Commemorated Worldwide

International Day of Forests21 March 2014: In celebration of the second International Day of Forests, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the important benefits of forests: habitat provision for 80 percent of all terrestrial biodiversity; support of an estimated 1.6 billion people; adaptation and mitigation to climate change; and the maintenance of a timber and wood industry that accounts for almost 1 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

An event held by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) at UN Headquarters in New York, US, to mark the Day convened "Forest Heroes and filmmakers to spotlight the role of women as agents of change for forests and sustainable development." UNFF also organized a film and photo exhibit.

In an editorial, Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), featured the symbiotic relationship between forests and migratory species. Chambers said, "Many endangered migratory species cannot do without forests; and the forests need the migratory species." Meanwhile, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretary-General, John Scanlon, underscored the growing number of tree species protected under the convention, noting that more than 400 tree species are now CITES-listed.

Also on the Day, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) emphasized the importance of tropical forests and the multiple ecosystem services they provide. The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Forestry and Timber Section convened an art performance, a conference, and held a 'Fashion for Forests' exhibit focused on sustainable living. The UNECE/FAO celebrations began with a press conference featuring fashion and art personalities, scientists and environmental advocates, all emphasizing the theme, ‘Our choices, even on how we dress, can make a difference and lead us towards a more sustainable world.' The FAO also released a video recalling the multiple benefits of forests and urging people to reflect on their value and take action to support their sustainability. In addition, the FAO held a web-based seminar on global forest monitoring, which emphasized recent technologies and approaches employed through FAO projects. 

The Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) issued a statement highlighting that forests are central to sustainable development, but that their multiple values are still not adequately reflected in policies. The CBD noted that actions to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity targets can address this shortcoming, especially with regard to Target 5, which calls for the rate of deforestation and forest degradation to be halved. Also on the Day, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) emphasized the link between the loss of forests and conflict, and called for increased efforts to restore degraded forests and land. Finally, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) issued a news article highlighting the release of Global Forest Watch, a real time tracking tool to monitor global deforestation. [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UN News] [UNFF Event Announcement] [CMS Editorial] [CITES Statement] [ITTO Press Release] [UNECE/FAO Press Release] [FAO Video] [FAO Press Release] [CBD Press Release] [UNCCD Press Release][GEF News]