21 March International Day of Forests

Most people are often fascinated by the beauty of the exotic and diverse plants and animals found within forests. However, the forest is far more than what we see; there are numerous not so visible benefits of forests, without those benefits our existence would be threatened. To bring focus to the benefits of forests, the UN in 2013, designated 21 March, International Day of Forest (IDF).IDF is an annual observance and this year, it is being celebrated under the theme; ‘Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World.’ As such, activities planned to mark the IDF observance will aim to promote effective solutions to reduce (mitigate) climate change and to prepare (adapt) to its effects. Importantly the Day will also highlight the need to use forests in a sustainable way finding new solution for a better world.
Innovation and technology have transformed forest monitoring, enabling countries to track, monitor and report on their forests more effectively and efficiently. “A total of 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide forest emission reductions or enhancements have been reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change through transparent and innovative forest monitoring” as reported by the United Nations.

Importance of the Forests
Forests cover about one third of the world’s land mass. We all depend on the forest in one way or the other for our survival and livelihood. Some important functions of forests include but are not limited to:
• Providing habitat for more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
• Contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the atmosphere.
• Protecting watersheds, which supply fresh water to rivers, lakes etc.
• Providing homes, jobs, clothing, shelter, food, medicine, research, cosmetics and security for millions of people around the world.
• Forests also play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change.

Forest and Climate Change
Over the years the world has been changing, most of the increase in global temperature is due to the increase of certain greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Forests play a very important role in maintaining natural processes and store large amounts of carbon; hence, through the carbon cycle and other natural processes, forest help to combat climate change. Nevertheless, because of deforestation, forests are a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.
To tackle these challenges, FAO and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have jointly launched Accelerating Innovative Monitoring for Forests (AIM4Forests), a five-year program that aims to enhance forest monitoring through modern technologies, technical innovation, and the utilization of space data and remote sensing.
Reducing deforestation and forest degradation and restoring and sustainably managing forests are critical pathways to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The battle against deforestation requires new technological advancements, these innovations are essential for early warning systems, sustainable commodity production, and empowering Indigenous Peoples through land mapping and climate finance access.
Additionally, ecosystem restoration, including reforestation efforts, can significantly contribute to climate mitigation and enhance food security while pushing the boundaries of sustainable wood products, and enhance food security while promoting sustainable wood products.

How can we help in the fight against climate change?
• Plant a tree,
• Preserve our forest
• Use resources wisely
• Dispose of waste properly and do not litter
• Reduce the use of artificial items and practice the 3Rs of waste management – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
• Make conscious efforts to learn more about forests and their benefits and share the information with others.

The forests are an integral part of survival on Earth. Protect it, for it protects us!