International Day of Forests

International Day of Forests is observed annually on March 21 to celebrate forests and create awareness about the forests’ importance and need of preserving them. 

World Forestry Day was established in 1971 at the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), when the State members voted to establish the “World Forestry Day” on March 21 of each year.

The next important step happened in 2011, when The International Year of Forests was established by the United Nations General Assembly. In the following year, the U.N. designated March 21st as The International Day of Forests. In 2013, the world celebrated this important day dedicated to our Earth for the first time. Since then, this day celebrates the importance of all types of forests.

Please also read: Dying forests 

Day of forest celebration

Since 2013, on the International Day of Forests, countries all over the world are encouraged to increase local, national and international efforts to protect the forest. To celebrate this day, various events are organized such as tree planting campaigns, symposiums, art exhibitions, photo competitions or students and young people debates. Each year, the International Day of Forests has a specific theme focusing to improve the collaborative partnership on Forests. The theme for the year 2023 is Forest and Health.

Healthy forest for healthy people

It is well known that the forest provides many important elements for people’s life, such as oxygen, food, wood, etc. Besides that, the forests also sequester carbon. Forests are also beneficial for our physical and mental health. Scientific studies illustrate how much walks in the forest can do for our heart and respiratory health, the immune system functioning and the lowering of stress levels.

Forests provide a wide spectrum of benefits for people, but they are currently suffering and struggling to survive because of people’s behaviour.

Forest vulnerability

The forest survived millennia on our planet. It was exposed to many disturbances such as fire, wind, insects, avalanches, etc. Despite of that, it survived to today. Today, however more and more signs indicate that the forest is suffering a lot to survive. Research confirmed that it is because the forest is suffering from air pollution, climate change, and also inappropriate forest management.

We are witnessing that forests in Europe are dying on a scale we have never experienced before. Decades of forest management experience seem to still not provide appropriate answers on how to find a way out, in this difficult and challenging period.

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The international day of forests is a good opportunity to improve science based forests management tools

Science-based forests management

Science-based forests management tools include the careful planting of native tree species, implementation of thinning and logging, but also acceptance of natural disturbances. It is proven that this approach can significantly reduce the risks to our forests.  

Sustainable management of European forests also includes the acceptance of spontaneous forest dynamic, the presence of dead and dying trees, maintaining naturally flowing creeks and rivers and protections of wildlife habitat.

Recent research studies compile the knowledge about observed and projected impacts of climate change on forests in Europe. It seems that the forests will have to adapt to increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as prolonged droughts, storms and floods.

What we can expect

Sudden, violent changes. Changes we have never experienced before, despite of many extreme events which already happened in recent years. 

Paradoxically, it seems that people get used to the increasing frequency of such events. The forest on large areas is dying because of various reasons, but it is often linked to sudden changes of weather patterns. 

Strong, unexpected wind can uproot large areas of man-planted, many times mono aged forest. Big snow storms damage large forest areas. These sudden violent events are naturally followed by fungi and insects break outs.

How to celebrate this day

World Forestry Day is vital as it helps raise awareness and reminds us all why we need forests. 

It also inspires us to do little tasks across the globe that combine to make a big difference. For example, it is a great opportunity for children, students and adults to discover the world of trees and forests and how they play a part in our everyday life.  

Let’s celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Let’s organize events which will help us to remember this important day. Events which remind us how important the subject of this day is. The least we can do – go hiking in the forests

Forests have a huge adaptability. They have survived for millennia. Climate change wiped out forests from a large area, but the forests revived and regenerated again and again. It is very likely that the forests will survive the current threatened man made cataclysm, but it is not so certain that we will be part of these future forests. This is good to remind this in this day.

Lucia Gejdosova
Wilderness Volunteer

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