“They act as natural filters, providing clean air and water, and they are havens of biological diversity…[and] help to regulate our climate by influencing rainfall patterns, cooling urban areas and absorbing one-third of greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Secretary-General António Guterres.

Commemorated annually on 21 March, the international day reminds everyone that the sustainable management of forests and their resources, are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.

Some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.

Assuaging poverty 

Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“They provide many communities and indigenous peoples with livelihoods, medicines, sustenance and refuge,” said the UN chief.

Relentless deforestation

Even though these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

While commitments to halt the wanton destruction of trees have rung out “loud and clear”, and slowing has been registered in some regions, “each year we still degrade and destroy some 10 million hectares of forest,” he said.

“It is essential that the world implements the recent Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use and other instruments designed to protect our forests,” underscored the Secretary-General.

Recommit to healthy forests

He said now was the time for “tangible and credible action on the ground.”

This means ending the unsustainable consumption and production patterns that jeopardize forests and providing support to sustainably manage forests in the countries and peoples who need it.

On this International Day of Forests, let us recommit to healthy forests for healthier livelihoods,” he concluded.

Background on the day

The General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

At all levels, countries are encouraged to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. 

In collaboration with others, the UN Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), organize events for the day.

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