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International Day Of Forests: Celebrating the Vital Role of Forests in Our World

By Ojugbele Omotunde and Oladele Rasheedat

The International Day of Forests, celebrated on March 21st, is a significant occasion to highlight the critical role that forests play in earth’s sustainability.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed this day in 2012 as a means to celebrate and raise awareness of the significance of all types of forests.

This day serves as a global platform to raise awareness about the importance of forests and trees, and the vital role they play in sustaining and protecting life on earth.

Forests are complex ecosystems that support a wide variety of flora and fauna and also act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helping to mitigate climate change.

In Nigeria, forests are essential for biodiversity conservation, providing habitats for unique species and also contribute to the livelihoods of many Nigerians through the provision of resources like timber, food, and medicinal plants.

However, deforestation and unsustainable practices pose a threat to these valuable ecosystems.

The theme for the International Day of Forests 2024 is “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption,” which aims to highlight the contribution of forests to the production of wood and non-wood forest products, as well as the promotion of sustainable consumption.

The International Day of Forests serves as a reminder of the critical role that forests play. It is a call to action for individuals, communities, and governments to work together to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage these invaluable ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations.

Forests provide a wide array of ecosystem services, including: being home to a significant portion of the world’s biodiversity, providing habitats for countless species of plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Playing a crucial role in regulating the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

Helping in maintaining water cycles and preventing soil erosion, thus ensuring a steady supply of clean water.

Providing livelihoods for millions of people worldwide through timber production, non-timber forest products, ecotourism, and other forest-related activities.

Despite their immense significance, forests also faces numerous challenges, which includes: The unsustainable and illegal clearing of forests for agriculture, urbanization, and infrastructure development.

Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme weather events which poses significant threats to the health and resilience of forests.

Biodiversity Loss: The loss of forests contributes to the extinction of plant and animal species that depend on these ecosystems for survival.

During the International Day of Forests Celebration, people, groups, and governments around the world celebrate and spread awareness about forests on this day by participating in a variety of events.

Typical activities include the following:

Tree Planting Campaigns: To support reforestation efforts and raise awareness of the value of trees, several communities host tree planting occasions.

Educational Workshops and Seminars: To inform people about the importance of forests and the need to conserve them, educational workshops and seminars are held by educational institutions, environmental organizations, and schools.

Advocacy for Policies: On this day, governments and environmental organizations promote laws and programs that safeguard and responsibly manage forests.

 

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