International Day of Forests' 2023 theme is 'Healthy forests for healthy people'

Every year on March 21 is designated as International Day of Forests.

Today, March 21, is the International Day of Forests (IDF) and the theme for 2023 is 'forests and health.'

First established in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly, the day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. 

For information on the International Day of Forests, click here. For a copy of the report, Forests for human health and well-being, click here.


IDF is a call for humanity to consider its relationship with the Earth's forests and the direct impact they have on longevity and well-being.

According to a statement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), forests are the lungs of the planet, breathing out clean air and serving as vital carbon sinks that mitigate the effects of climate change. Fewer, however, are aware of the intrinsic links that forests have with our day-to-day health, according to the statement.

They provide around 25% of western medicines, with upwards of 50,000 plants contributing to modern drugs. And a study of 27 African countries shows that children exposed to forests had 25% greater diet diversity thanks to an abundance of fruit, vegetables, bush meat, fish, and edible oils.

According to the IUCN, the prognosis for forests is alarming. Around 35% of the world's forest cover has been lost, with 82% of the remainder degraded.

One way technology is protecting forest ecosystems is by preventing illegal logging, which accounts for up to 90% of all logging activities and is a major contributor to global deforestation.

In Similajau National Park in Malaysia's Sarawak state, the IUCN is working with the Sarawak Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation to enable the Sarawak government to protect its rainforests. The park is not just rich in biodiversity, it is also a sustainable source of medicine and food for local people, many of whom depend on the forest for their livelihoods.

However, illegal logging remains a prominent threat, causing widespread degradation of the rainforest ecosystem and biodiversity loss.

In an effort to curtail illegal logging, forestry management agencies are using 'Guardian' acoustic monitoring devices that can detect the sound of trucks and chainsaws used for illegal logging. Each Guardian can cover an area of 7 km and send networked real-time alerts via a cloud platform to rangers' phones, enabling real-time intervention.

Audio and visual monitoring technology and AI analytics can also help monitor endangered species through their vocalizations. By tracking their populations and distribution, conservationists can develop precise conservation measures. Of particular interest are umbrella species, the well-being of which is pivotal to the health of the forest ecosystems they inhabit. Examples of biodiversity monitoring projects that target umbrella species include Darwin's foxes in Chile and jaguars in Mexico's Dzilam State Reserve.

Technology can also trigger smart conservation action in forested areas. In Switzerland, a pilot Tech4Nature project in partnership with IUCN and Porini Foundation uses blockchain to develop a system to trace carbon sequestration to boost the transparency and traceability of forest carbon sink transactions, with a view to using these credits to fund other biodiversity conservation projects.

The above are examples of forest ecosystem protection projects under Huawei's TECH4ALL initiative. Together with global partners, technological solutions have been developed comprising audio and visual monitoring devices, communication networks, cloud, and AI analytics. These can achieve conservation outcomes that would have been impossible even a decade ago.

"With scientific evidence strongly correlating forest health and human health, it is imperative that we keep our forests healthy," according to the press release. "Our experience so far shows that this approach is working. And that knowledge drives us to keep striving with our partners to help build a healthy, sustainable future for both us and our forests."


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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).