International Year of Forests 2011

“The International Year of Forests 2011 offers a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of the challenges facing many of the world’s forests and the people who depend on them. Great success stories and valuable lessons on how to promote sustainable forest management already exist. The Year provides a means of bringing those voices together and building momentum towards greater public participation in forest activities around the world.”

UN Report by the Secretary-General to the UN General Assembly, 6 August 2010

The UN has delcared 2011 the International Year of the Forest in an attempt to raise awareness and promote sustainable forest management and conservation of forests and woodlands worldwide for the benefit of current and future generations.

Living in the beautiful New Forest District on the south coast of England, this initiative is particularly close to my heart.  The New Forest was declared a National Park in March 2005 and the National Park Authority, together with the Forestry Commission, are responsible for maintaining and sustaining the Forest environment.  At the time of writing, however, I am unsure of the contribution that the UK authorities plan to make to this initiative locally or nationally – I will be keeping an eye on the Forestry Commission website which promises great things to mark this special year, but details are not yet available.

Some interesting facts about forests:

  • Forests cover 31% of the total land area of the earth
  • Forests are home to 300 million people worldwide
  • Forests are home to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity
  • The livelihood of over 1.6 billion people depend on forests

While the Year will be a global event, a large number of activities to celebrate the International Year will take place at national and regional levels. These activities promise to be of a diverse nature and will encourage anyone with an interest in promoting this initiative to “have a go” and get involved.

There will be competitions ranging from photography, art, slogan and essay writing to sports and athletic competitions with venues in forest locations.

Exhibitions will be staged to draw attention to critical forest issues, ranging from deforestation and forest degradation to the protective functions of forests, using photography and other visual media to communicate the messages.

Many countries are planning to undertake and promote tree planting, distribution of seedlings and publish guidelines as awareness-raising activities to highlight the important role of afforestation and restoration in sustainable forest management.  According to the UN Report, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has specifically indicated plans to plant over 1 billion trees throughout the country during 2011.

National parks will play a central role in raising the awareness of the general public, youth, journalists and politicians of the importance of forest resources and the factors that threaten national forests.

It is hoped that the initiative will promote observance of the Year not as an isolated event but as part of a continuing process of advocacy and partnership to foster greater awareness and action towards sustainable forest management at all levels, worldwide.

How will you get involved?

These artisans already show a fondness for trees and forests – please do take the time to check out their work.

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