International Day of Forests: Sustainable management is crucial in the fight against climate change

21 Mar, 2023 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome, 21 March 2023

On the International Day of Forests,NPWJ reiterates its commitment to raising awareness and celebrating the importance of all types of forests. This occasion has been observed since its proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly on21 March 2012.;Each year, the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organizations,encourage humanity to join the cause and take action. NPWJ acknowledges and supports this year’s theme chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests for 2023: “Forests and Health.”
Sustainable management of forests and their resources is crucial in the fight against climate change and in promoting the prosperity and well-being of present and future generations. Forests play a vital role in poverty reduction and in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Forests contribute significantly to our health by purifying water, cleaning the air, capturing carbon to mitigate climate change, providing food and life-saving medicines and enhancing our overall well-being. Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land and accommodate more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They cover 30% of the earth’s surface and are vital habitats for millions of species, being the sources of clean air and water and crucial for fighting climate change. Forests are also crucial for the indigenous people who live there, inspiring their culture, traditions, science and identity. Nevertheless, despite the invaluable ecological, economic, social and health benefits provided by forests, they are under threat from fires, pests, droughts and unprecedented levels of deforestation.
In order to raise awareness on the importance of preserving the environment, we would like to share and pass on some of this year’s key messages listed by FAO to celebrate the International Day of Forests:1

  • Forests are a vital source of food and nutrition: nearly one billion people depend on harvesting wild food and between 60 and 80 percent of people living in remote tropical areas sustain themselves on wild meat.
  • Forests are natural pharmacies: there are around 50,000 plant species with medical value, which are used by local communities and are important for their daily lives.
  • Healthy forests protect us from diseases: deforestation causes the spreading of illnesses, which previously were limited by the presence of forests that served as natural barriers for the transmission of diseases between humans and animals.
  • Forests boost our mental and physical health: they serve as a filter in urban areas against pollution as well as an important tool to increase the mental health of people who are spending time in them.
  • Forests play a central role in combating climate change: healthy forests can protect us from heat exposure as well as cooling the air and help us save on air conditioning up to 30 percent. Moreover, they store 662 billion tonnes of carbon, which is more than half the global carbon stock in soils and vegetation.
  • Forests are under threat and need our help: since 2015, 98 million hectares are lost by fires globally and 10 million from deforestation; 35 million hectares are damaged by insects annually.

International Forest Day is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the world’s wildlife and humanity’s achievements in the preservation of it and to raise awareness about the harmful human-led practices that have progressively destroyed and deteriorated forests across the globe. This day allows humanity to continue educating itself on matters related to forests and ecosystems and, therefore, to enrich the process of effectively identifying, tackling and addressing the challenges ahead. NPWJ aligns with the principle that it is our responsibility to protect this precious wildlife and joins at the forefront in safeguarding rights and combating impunity for deforestation and other forms of environmental destruction. Through extensive advocacy, we have promoted accountability measures to hold those responsible for crimes against nature and human rights violations in Amazonia since 2019. NPWJ calls on the international community, governments and world citizens for this to be a top priority on the global, regional and local agendas for the sake of forests, ecological balance, flora and fauna, indigenous peoples and the present and future generations.