March 21, 2015 has officially been declared the International Day of Forests, by the United Nations General Assembly. As the most biologically diverse, terrestrial ecosystems forests provide habitat and food for wildlife, act as a sink for carbon, help improve and protect water quality and provide jobs and shelter for communities around the world. Forests play a critical role in helping the planet cope with climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen while mitigating humidity.
The International Day of Forests was designated in order to raise awareness of the importance of forests, highlight the need for protection and preservation, reinforce the detriments of deforestation and generally celebrate all their contributions, diversity and beauty. This worldwide celebration will include activities ranging from tree-planting to national celebrations through displays of art, photography and film.
“Forests and Climate Change” is the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests. All activities and presentations will focus on the link between forested land, be it urban, suburban, rural, reservation, preservation etc., and climate change. The hope is that this will serve as a call to action to protect trees and forests around the world. Celebratory activities are also expected to address forest-based solutions to development and change.
Having 100 million trees living in our urban and suburban areas in the U.S. can save residents over 2 billion dollars in annual energy expenditures. Additionally, trees planted in urban settings alone are estimated to remove more than 784 thousand tons of air pollution each year, which has a fiscal equivalent of 3.8 billion dollars.
The 2015 International Day of Forests is also a day to celebrate foresters, arborists, land managers and others who have dedicated their lives to the responsible care, maintenance and protection of our forested lands. In the U.S. state forestry agencies protect two-thirds of the nation’s forests. Their contribution to the development and implementation of each state’s Forest Action Plan helps put in motion a powerful tool for targeting and monitoring the presence of and threats to limited natural resources.
Get involved in the days leading up to the celebration by taking part in social media events with #IntForestDay and #ImagineWhataTreeCanDo. Check with the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) social media channels for more information about our nation’s forests and trees.