Today is the International Day of Forests. The International Day of Forests was established on the 21st of March, by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 28, 2012. Each year, various events celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests, and trees outside forests, for the benefit of current and future generations. Countries are encouraged to undertake efforts to organize local, national, and international activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns, on International Day of Forests. The Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization, facilitates the implementation of such events in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and international, regional and sub-regional organizations. International Day of Forests was observed for the first time on March 21, 2013. This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us.
While most countries of the world are concerned about depletion of forests and are doing their best to improve the situation there seems to be very little effort in our country. In some States of India where lakhs of tree saplings are plated during rainy season with lot of fanfare are not cared for later and eventually most of them get dried up. In our State of Telangana the forest area is just 18.22% of the total State area. And since 2015 it is reported that there is hardly an increase of 0.5% in forest area. Our country’s forest area is 21.54% while that of Russia is 45.40%, Brazil 56.10%, Canada 31.06%, USA 30.84%, Argentina 34% and that of Indonesia is 46.46%. Such is the position of many countries, a much higher forest area than ours. These few statistics provided by me tell us how much our Central and State Governments and people have to do to save and grow more trees wherever possible.
Some Key Messages on this important day! To remember forever, by us and our future generations:
One large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
Forests and trees store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas.
Trees also improve the local climate, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 percent.
Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8 degrees Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent.
Urban trees are excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants in the air and fine particulates.
Trees reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas.
Local populations use the fruits, nuts, leaves and insects found in urban trees to produce food and medicines for use in the home, or as a source of income.
Wood fuel sourced from urban trees and planted forests on the outskirts of cities provides renewable energy for cooking and heating, which reduces pressures on natural forests and our reliance on fossil fuels.
Forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people. Forests also protect watersheds and prevent flooding as they store water in their branches and soil.
Well-managed forests and trees in and around cities provide habitats, food and protection for many plants and animals, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity.
Forests in cities and surrounding areas generate tourism, create tens of thousands of jobs and encourage city beautification schemes, building dynamic, energetic and prosperous green economies.
Urban green spaces, including forests, encourage active and healthy lifestyles, improve mental health, prevent disease, and provide a place for people to socialize.