"To build a sustainable, climate-resilient future for all, we must invest in our world's forests. That will take political commitment at the highest levels, smart policies, effective law enforcement, innovative partnerships and funding."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
A rubber farmer in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
UN Photo/Rahmat Rahim Nur
This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.
Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihood.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.
They play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Forests contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.
Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
The theme for this year “Forests and Climate Change” highlights forest-based solutions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more broadly forests and sustainable development.
Activities expected to take place on the 2015 International Day include a special event at United Nations Headquarters, tree-planting and other community-level events, and national celebrations including art, photo and film as well as social media.
A special event for the International Day of Forests, entitled “International Day of Forests: Create a Climate Smart Future” will be held on 20 March 2015 at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber.
The event will be webcast live.
You can get involved by creating your own International Forest Day exhibit on the lead up to the Day by using the design material available and by using the hashtag #IntlForestDay on social media.
More information on the Day is available at the UN Forum on Forests.