Owl resting on a branch of a tree
Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, like this owl perched  on a tree branch. The photo was part of a UNEP contest on forests. Credit: Jessica Kerr.

Too precious to lose

When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to forests in one way or another.

Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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 livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

Forests and Biodiversity

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012.

The organizers are the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organizations in the field.

The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2020 is Forests and Biodiversity.
 

2020 has been referred to as a "Nature Super Year" and must be the year where we turn the tide on deforestation and forestry loss.

Did you know?

  • Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.
  • Forests and woodlands are made up of over 60,000 tree species.
  • More than a billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy and income.
  • Deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually and this accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

UN Events

International Day events will soon be announced.

Illustration of a tree with a heart shape full of nature.

Visit the official FAO website, full of interesting content to celebrate International Forest Day - from key messages, through documents and promotional material in different languages. You can also register your event, or participate in the photo contest.

 A girl swings in a tree in a lush forest.

Where would you find the world’s largest recreation centre and the most natural supermarket? Forests wouldn’t have been your first answer, would it? That’s the thing about forests - they keep secrets. For too long we have seen trees as purely functional or ornamental, but they hide special secrets...

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.