IDF 2021: Four things you need to know about forests and health
March 1, 2021
Forests are good for our physical and mental wellbeing. Spending time around trees helps boost our immune system, lowers blood pressure and promotes relaxation. From cleaner air to providing natural cooling and the freshwater we drink, forests support our health in ways that may not be visible.
1. Forests provide us medicines
Many of the medicines we rely on today come from forests. 25 per cent of medicinal drugs used in developed countries are plant-based, while in developing countries, it can be as much as 80 per cent. Forests also provide essential health products such as hygiene and sanitary items like toilet paper, paper towels, tissues and ethanol for sanitizers.
Even the masks and protective clothing that frontline medical workers depend on are created from forest products like wood pulp and soluble cellulose fiber.
2. We are losing forests the size of South Korea each year
Every year, our planet loses 10 million hectares of forests, roughly the same area as the entire Republic of Korea. But we can turn the tide on this negative trend through sustainable forest management and ecosystem restoration.
3. We can bring degraded forests back to life
It is estimated that some two billion hectares of degraded land worldwide have the potential to be revived. That is roughly twice the area of Europe. Revitalizing the health of our forests is in our best interest, as it helps to create new jobs, mitigate climate change, and to safeguard biodiversity.
4. Forests shield us against future pandemics
At present, 60 per cent of all infectious diseases and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. These diseases originate from the transfer of pathogens from animals to humans, and they usually occur when natural landscapes, such are forests, are being cleared.
By planting trees and restoring forests, we can support an integrated one health approach for people, species and the planet. This is why the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests on 21 March 2021, is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.
Source: UN DESA Voice