Forest heroes honoured at closing ceremony

People making special contributions towards protecting forests received the Forest Heroes Award at a special ceremony hosted by the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat to mark the conclusion of the International Year of Forests on 9 February

International Year of Forests 2011The ceremony also featured the winners of the 2011 Universal Postal Union letter-writing contest, which drew entries from more than 2 million children and youth worldwide, and the announcement of the winners of the 2011 children’s art contest “Celebrate the Forests”.

Film clips from the first-ever award-winning International Forest Film Festival were also shown, as well as the launch of the commemorative book Forests for People with 75 articles from 35 countries.

Jan McAlpine, Director of UNFF Secretariat and a member of the jury panel for the Forest Heroes Awards, said the well-being of forests was a concern for everyone. “Each of us, all 7 billion people on Earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to forests. We launched the UNFF Forest Heroes Awards for the International Year of Forests 2011 to identify and honour the countless individuals around the world who are dedicating their lives to nurturing forests in quiet and heroic ways. The programme aims to spotlight everyday people working to make positive changes for forests.”

Through many activities, the 2011 International Year of Forests helped promote awareness of the issues confronting the world’s forests and the people who depend on them. Forests cover 31 per cent of the world’s total global land area, store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon and provide livelihoods for more than 1.6 billion people. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The UNFF Secretariat received 90 nominations from 41 countries and selected 15 finalists. After a long and difficult deliberation, the jury finally decided on the following regional winners: Africa’s Paul Nzegha Mzeka (Cameroon), Asia’s Shigeatsu Hatakeyama (Japan), Europe’s Anatoly Lebedev (Russian Federation), Latin America’s Paulo Adario (Brazil) and North America’s Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva (United States). The jury decided to add a special award in recognition of the deceased couple José Claudio Ribeiro and Maria do Espírito Santo, two activists tragically murdered in Brazil while trying to protect their natural forests.

Each hero embodied innovative approaches and grass-roots initiatives that make a direct impact on the forests to which they have dedicated themselves.

Since its launch in February 2011, global observance of the International Year of Forests has been dedicated to raising public awareness of the vital role of people in sustainable management and catalysing actions in the development and conservation of all types of forests.

International Year of Forests closing ceremony 2011 (part 1)

International Year of Forests 2011 closing ceremony (part 2)

For more information:
International Year of Forests 2011