2011: The International Year of Forests
‘…promote sustainable development, conservation, development of forests
worldwide and the public awareness of the crucial role that forests play in
global sustainable development’
As the United Nations quite rightly point out, every person’s economic, physical and spiritual health is dependent on the health and well being of our forests.
The major theme of 2011 was Forests for People which aimed to outline the crucial importance of the co-dependent relationship between people and forests and each person’s role in ensuring the conservation, sustainable management and development of forests.
Many, many years ago the earth was covered in natural forests, today over half of those forests are gone. A staggering 16 million hectares of forest disappear each year and according to the World Resources Institute only around 22% of the original forest cover remains.
The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), in order to raise global awareness and efforts in improving the state of forests focused on four main areas:-
Reverse Forest Loss
The major aims in this essential category include:-
- Improve and implement sustainable forest management to reverse the worldwide loss of forest cover
- Increase efforts to prevent forest degradation
- Aid the protection, reforestation and reparation of our forests
Whilst social and economical needs must be taken into consideration, the overall aim is for significant forest cover worldwide. Reforestation is an important element but so is the conservation and restoration of ancient forests and specific forest types. Furthermore, the planting of more trees outside of forest environments is also essential for trying to moderate climate changes.
To enable the preservation of all our forests the following areas that represent major and unwanted threats are to be minimized. These include:-
Economic, social and environmental factors including the improvement of life for forest-dependent people.
This theme aimed to look at the role of trees and woodlands outside of the forest environment. Areas included in the recommendations include:-
- Moderating soil, hydrological and aquatic systems
- Maintaining clean and healthy water to ensure adequate fish populations
- Reducing the risks of environmental factors such as avalanches, floods, drought and erosion
- To protect forest resources to benefit agriculture and rural livelihoods
There is also emphasis on protecting species and managing biological diversity within the forest. The aim is to ensure that the diversity of plant and animal life is maintained. Genetic research is also a key issue and helps in areas such as ensuring a high wood production and eliminating pest and disease problems.
This theme examined the role of forest resources in the economy. Not only through the employment generated from marketing forest products and energy, but also the cultural and recreational side of forest management.
Address the decline in financial assistance for Sustainable forest Management
Obviously, in order to support sustainable forest management a lot of money needs to be spent. The UNFF looked at the trend in the decline of official funds for forest sustainability. Areas to be addressed include issues and policies from forest managers, government and law enforcement agencies.