Forests are the lungs of our planet. They cover one-third of all land area, and are home to 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity. They are crucial for addressing a multitude of sustainable development imperatives, from poverty eradication to food security, from mitigating and adapting to climate change to reducing disaster risk.
It is estimated that 1.6 billion people depend on forests for food, fuel, shelter and income. The World Health Organization estimates that between 65 and 80 per cent of people rely on medicines derived from forests as their primary form of health care.
Not only do forests provide essential economic safety nets for a significant number of the world’s poor, they underpin economies at all levels. Round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product. Non-monetary benefits from forests, such as water, energy, shelter and medicine, are estimated to be two to three times as great. Forested catchments supply three-quarters of freshwater, which is essential for agriculture, industry, energy supply and domestic use.
The International Day of Forests is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of all types of forests and trees to our economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being. However awareness must be coupled with concrete action. As we deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda, let us acknowledge the vital role of forests and pledge to work together to protect and sustainably manage these vital ecosystems.
General Assembly President's Message
Celebrated now for two years, the International Day of Forests and the Tree calls on governments and other multi stakeholders to commit to reducing deforestation while promoting sustainable livelihoods for all forest-dependent communities.
Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass and over 1.6 billion people depend on forest ecosystems for their daily livelihoods.
As we work to create a post 2015 sustainable development agenda, I urge Member States to recognize the ecological, economic, social and health benefits of our forests.
In recent years, global deforestation has spread at an alarming rate. Over 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year and deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
This day marks a worldwide commemoration to celebrate our forests and to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our essential global ecosystems.
John W. Ashe