International Day of Forests is celebrated on the 21st day of every March. Forests cover the dominant terrestrial ecosystem of the planet and are distributed across the globe. It is a large area that usually has hundreds and thousands of trees, herbs, shrubs, other living organisms and more. The term forest usually defines the presence of trees in ample number, and the Earth has different types of forests and a wide variety of trees present in it. Trees are playing a significant role in maintaining the environment and living beings surviving on it. They are solely responsible for producing the vast majority of air or oxygen without which life would be impossible. For various reasons, forests are being depleted, destroyed and several millions of hectares of forests are cut down. With the increase in deforestation activities, the ecological system has been degraded completely. International Day of Forests or Forest Day is an awareness Day celebrated in such a way to let people understand the importance of forests and the essential role of trees in our lives. The international Day will also address on issues such as deforestation.
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
History of International Day of Forests
The International Day of Forests (IDF) has been celebrated since the year 2013. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21st March as IDF on November 28, 2012. Since then, the Day has been observed with various events and activities to raise the awareness about the importance and benefits of the forests, its types, trees outside the forests to the people of current and future generations. Earlier to this IDF, World Forestry Day had been observed which has originated in 1971 at the 23rd General Assembly of the European Confederation of Agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had established it and started celebrating it from the year 1972 till 2012. IFD is created to raise awareness about the forests and issues of deforestations as a whole. Each year, IDF or Forest Day is celebrated with a theme which is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.
On each Forest Day, countries from all over the world are encouraged to undertake useful efforts to organize any local, national, or international activities or events involving forests and trees. Also, the United Nations works together with the governments, community organizations, and the general public as a way to promote both local and global activities for the IDF. Activities include tree planting campaigns, photo exhibits that portray the importance forests and trees, and sharing infographics, videos, news messages via social and other media. As human society and forests are influencing each other in both positive and negative ways, it is vital to promote awareness about the role of forests as with the humankind. Forests are providing the ecosystem services to humans and are serving as tourist attractions.
However, human activities like harvesting forest resources, deforestation, and more have negatively affected the forest ecosystems and which in turn are affecting the human life indirectly through natural disasters and environmental changes. The forests account for about 75 percent of the gross primary productivity of the Earth’s biosphere. It contains about 80 percent of the Earth’s plant biomass. According to the survey by FAO in 2006, forests covered four billion hectares, i.e., 15 million square miles or approximately 30 percent of the world’s land area in total. It contains more than 60,000 tree species and in which many as of them are yet unidentified species. Forests are actively contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air and they also protect the watersheds, which supply fresh water to the rivers.
Forests are the primary source of food, fibre, water and medicines for about 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people approximately. It also included the indigenous peoples with unique cultures. More than 13 million hectares, i.e., 32 million acres of forests are lost every year which is an area roughly the size of England. Forests are providing shelter for 80 percent of the terrestrial species including animals, plants and insects. It is essential to know that the forests are playing a critical role in the climate change including the global warming. According to the UN, deforestation results in 12 to18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions which is almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. Equally crucial, the healthy forests are found to be one of the world’s primary ‘carbon sinks.’
Themes of Forest Day
- 2014 – My Forest | Our Future
- 2015 – Forests | Climate | Change
- 2016 – Forests and Water
- 2017 – Forests and Energy
- 2018 – Forests and Sustainable Cities
- 2019 – Forests and Education
- 2020 – Forests and Biodiversity
Other Celebrations on March 21
March 21 is also celebrated as
- National Corndog Day
- National Quilting Day
- World Down Syndrome Day
- National French Bread Day
- National Common Courtesy Day
- National Single Parents Day
- World Poetry Day
- National Fragrance Day
How to Celebrate International Day of Forests
Celebrating the International Day of Forests is quite simple. Get to know more about the forests, their role in ecological balance and different types of forest ecosystems. On this awareness Day, you can start planting a tree and encourage people around you to do so. Spread information regarding the positive effects the environment gains with proper maintenance of the forests. Make an initiative to save the planet from greenhouse emission, pollution, climate changes and more by planting as many trees as you can. You can start campaigns joining with any organization to work towards saving the Planet actively. You can share your information about the IDF on the social media using the hashtag #InternationalDayOfForests or #ForestDay.