Child's hand holding a small tree cutting.
Restoration takes resources. Organizations driving activities on the ground are often underfunded and face financial insecurity.
Photo:UNEP/Will Baxter

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.

Forest sustainable management and their use of resources 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). Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

Forest restoration

The theme of the International Day of Forests for 2021 is "Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being." The restoration and sustainable management of forests help address the climate-change and biodiversity crises. It also produces goods and services for sustainable development, fostering an economic activity that creates jobs and improves lives.

This year’s theme fits into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world.


The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types 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 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.

Did you know?

  • Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more that 60,000 tree species.
  • Around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.
  • The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year - about the size of Iceland - which accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
  • Land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares – an area larger than South America.

Source: FAO 2020

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Related links

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International days and weeks 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.