- Each year, International Day of Forests (IDF) is celebrated with a theme
- Theme for IDF 2021 is Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being
- The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year: United Nations
New Delhi: From the air we breathe to the wood we use for construction and as fuelwood, our survival is dependent on forests. According to the State of Forest Report 2019, a significant part of the rural population in India is dependent on the forests for meeting the needs of fuelwood, fodder, small timber, bamboo and non-timber forest products. Along with this, forests provide habitat for animals. According to the experts, forests are a stabilising force for the climate and play a crucial role in keeping a balance in the environment on the planet. In an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of forests of all types, March 21 is marked as the International Day of Forests. Here is a quick lowdown of things you should know about the day and why you should work towards protecting forests.
Also Read: India Has Already Witnessed Multiple Big Forest Fires This Year: Here Is All You Need To Know About Wildfires
The Origin Of International Day Of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
The Theme Of International Day Of Forests 2021
The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2021 is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.
The restoration and sustainable management of forests help address the climate-change and biodiversity crises. It also produces goods and services for sustainable development, fostering an economic activity that creates jobs and improves lives. This year’s theme fits into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world, states United Nations.
Also Read: State Of India’s Environment: Our Air, Water, Land Have Become More Polluted Between 2009 And 2018, Says Centre For Science And Environment Study
Celebrating International Day Of Forests
In each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees, such as tree plantation campaigns. Each year, the world celebrates the contribution of trees to our life. For instance, in 2019, under the motto “Learn to love forests!” the focus was on the role of education in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.
Facts Highlighting The Importance Of Forests
According to United Nations, forests are home to about 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more than 60,000 tree species. Around 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.
The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year – about the size of Iceland – which accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, states UN. Additionally, land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares – an area larger than South America.
Also Read: Reversing Global Warming: Bill Gates Talks About Ways To Reduce Pollution And Protect The Environment
More than 25 per cent of the medicines we use originate in rainforest plants. Also, over one third of our biggest cities, including New York, Bogota, Tokyo and Barcelona, get a significant proportion of their high-quality drinking water from protected forests, states UN.
Forest And Health And Future Pandemics
As per the latest piece on United Nations’ Department for Economic and Social affairs, currently, 60 per cent of all infectious diseases and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. These diseases originate from the transfer of pathogens from animals to humans, and they usually occur when natural landscapes, such are forests, are being cleared. This is the reason, this year, the call to action is forest restoration.
According to a report released on October 29, 2020 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an independent intergovernmental body based in Germany that focuses on biodiversity conservation, the loss of habitat and the disturbances in the biodiversity caused by climate change, the expansion of agricultural land, deforestation and the wildlife trade are linked to disease emergence.
While presenting the findings of the report, Dr Peter Daszak, President of EcoHealth Alliance said in a workshop conducted by IPBES on the report,
There is no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic – or of any modern pandemic. The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use the land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people. This is the path to pandemics.
Also Read: Halting Destruction Of Biodiversity Could Slow The Frequency Of Deadly Pandemics, Say Experts
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.