Guyana has vast forests, which cover more than three-quarters of its landmass and contain numerous tree species. Additionally, Guyana has a very low deforestation rate, which is often used as an excuse for mismanagement of forest resources. However, our forests provide invaluable services, and the importance of protecting and conserving our enormous forest resources cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore, Guyana will be joining the rest of the world, on Thursday, March 21, 2019, in celebrating this very important and diverse ecosystem: the forest.
International Day of Forests
March 21 has been designated as the “International Day of Forests” by the UN General Assembly. The goal of this observance is to help us to appreciate the importance of forests and of trees to our world, and to raise awareness of the threats. Each year, a theme is selected to highlight a specific area of interest. This year’s theme, ‘Forests and Education’, seeks to raise awareness on how sustainably managed forests provide a wide array of contributions in this area. Therefore, education is vital for proper management of forests.
The Importance of Forests
Forests not only provide livelihoods for more than 1.7 billion people and over 2000 indigenous cultures, they provide more than 50 per cent of the shelter for species such as insects and animals. They also balance out the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the environment; protect the watersheds which supply fresh water to rivers; provide food for a variety of insects, mammals, birds and reptiles; and can cool the air in urban areas by as much as between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.
Why should you be concerned?
Over 32 million acres of forests are lost with every passing year. This removes vital habitats for numerous plant and animal species, lowers carbon dioxide absorption and oxygen production, and increases the world’s collective carbon footprint. In fact, almost as much CO2 is emitted during deforestation efforts as is by the world’s transportation industry. Forests still cover around 30 percent of Earth’s land mass, but these important natural resources are shrinking day by day.
The most common pressures causing deforestation and severe forest degradation are agriculture, unsustainable forest management, mining, infrastructure projects, and increased fire incidents and intensity. These are all issues which can be addressed with proper management of forests.