NEW YORK --

The United Nations has launched International Year of Forests, a year-long celebration of the world's forests.

The UN's campaign theme, "Forest for People," recognizes the role that forests play in everything from mitigating climate change to providing wood, medicines and livelihoods for people worldwide.

The UN General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests, on which at least 1.6 billion people depend for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs. Forests are also home to over 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, who reside in forests.

“By declaring 2011 as the International Year of Forests, the United Nations General Assembly has created an important platform to educate the global community about the great value of forests – and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them,” noted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss noted that the International Year of Forests comes on the heels of the International Year of Biodiversity (2010), which concluded with the adoption of a new strategic plan containing targets on significantly reducing, by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, and sustainably managing forestry to ensure biodiversity conservation.

“Every one of us, all seven billion people on earth, has our physical, economic and spiritual health tied to the health of our forest ecosystems,” said Jan McAlpine, the Director of the Forum’s Secretariat. “Throughout 2011, we will celebrate this intricate, interdependent relationship between forests and people,” she said.

Forests cover about 31 per cent of total land area, amounting to just under 4 billion hectares, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which today released its “State of the World’s Forests” report.

The report, which is published every two years, stresses that the forest industry forms an important part of a “greener” economy and wood products have environmental attributes that would appeal to people.

The industry is responding to numerous environmental and social concerns by improving sustainability of resource use, using more waste materials to make products, increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. For example, 37 per cent of total forest production in 2010 came from recovered paper, wood waste and non-wood fibres, a figure that is likely to grow to up to 45 per cent in 2030, with much of that growth from China and India.

Read more about the
United Nation's International Year of the Forest.

Posted by Rich Christianson

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