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    9 Reasons to Celebrate International Day of Forests

    by Meaghan Weeden March 13, 2024 4 min read

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    How to Celebrate International Day of Forests? Plant a Tree!

    Celebrated on March 21st every year, the International Day of Forests was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. Since then, millions of people around the globe have used it as an opportunity to celebrate all types of forests, recognize the importance of trees and forests and all that they do for us, and take action to protect them. The International Day of Forests Theme 2024 is "Forests and Innovation."

    From cleaning the air we breathe to filtering the water we drink, shading and sheltering us from harmful UV rays, reducing the UHI (Urban Heat Island) effect, creating sustainable income, providing nutritious food, reducing stress, improving our health and sequestering carbon in their roots, trunks, and leaves, trees provide many benefits!

    If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of how important it is to restore forests and protect the environment for future generations, but here are 9 more reasons to inspire you.

    Here are 9 International Day of Forests Facts

    1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

    When you think about jobs that depend on forests, it probably seems pretty obvious: logging, carpentry and woodworking. But healthy forests provide a plethora of less obvious but no less profound long-term economic values to a range of industries. From foresters to rangers, conservationists, sustainable agroforestry farmers, tour guides, nature photographers, herbalists, foragers, tree planters and more, over 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods. And just like trees support entire ecosystems, the benefits of jobs in the forest sector ripple across the global economy.

    2. Protecting Against Extreme Weather

    As climate change intensifies around the world, once rare "extreme weather events" like floods, landslides, cyclones, droughts and forest fires become commonplace. With roots that dig deep into the soil, hold everything together and absorb stormwater, fire resistant bark that slows the spread of wildfires, leaves that gradually release water vapor and significantly reduce temperatures, powerful root systems that buffer coastal communities against cyclones, canopies that shelter us from harmful UV rays and so much more, healthy forests are a powerful defense against natural disasters.

    3. What the Doctor Ordered

    Trees are nature’s great healers, but their powers don’t stop at improving the environment and biodiversity. From prolific Cat’s Claw vines found in the Amazon rainforest to magnificent Chaga mushrooms growing off of birch trees in the Russian tiaga, forests have provided medicine to indigenous and traditional cultures for centuries. And western medicine benefits, too: although only 1% of rainforest plants have been researched, around 25% of pharmaceutical medicines used today are derived from them. So protecting forests is as important to our health as it is to planetary health.

    4. All the Food You Can Eat

    From cacao pods to apples, avocados, guava, bananas, coconuts, mushrooms, chestnuts, maple sap and more, forests provide delicious, nutritious food grown right in nature. These foods have traditionally been used to supplement staple diets, providing vitamins, minerals and proteins that rural communities may not be able to get elsewhere. And throughout history, they’ve played an important role in community resilience by helping humans survive food shortages during floods, droughts, famines, conflicts and other emergencies.

    5. Home Sweet Home

    80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, including many endangered and endemic species, call forests home. 50% of that biodiversity dwells in tropical rainforests, where it’s common to find hundreds of species in a single hectare. But they’re home to more than just plants and animals: over 300 million people live in the world’s forests, too. And from rural areas to suburbs and cities, billions more depend on them for the ecosystem services they provide, like pure drinking water, clean air, lower temperatures and so much more. 

    6. Natural Air Conditioning

    If you live in a city, this one’s for you: urban trees reduce the dangerous urban heat island effect, lowering temperatures by as much as 8°C. This is especially impactful in low-income areas where the impact of high temperatures can be more deeply felt. And speaking of energy, they reduce the volume of carbon emissions from heating and cooling technologies by helping to regulate temperatures year round. In fact, well-placed trees can reduce air conditioning costs by 30% and heating costs by up to 50%.

    7. Improving Mental Health

    Studies show that when we spend even a short amount of time in nature, we can experience increased vigor and decreased depression, anxiety, fatigue, and mental fog. And those that are lucky enough to live near evergreen forests benefit from the high concentrations of phytoncides (airborne essential oils) that they release. These “showers” are part of the tree’s own medicine and provide powerful stress relief and a natural immunity boost that can last for weeks. Simply put: forests help us stay happy, relaxed, and well

    8. Combating Climate Change

    Because trees use carbon dioxide to build their trunks, branches, roots, and leaves, they are natural carbon absorbers and help to clean the air. In fact, one mature tree can absorb up to 22lbs per year! According to a 2017 analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, the average American emits around 16.2 metric tons of CO2 from fossil fuels each year. 

    9. They Just Make Life Better

    Where forests grow undisturbed, life flourishes and the air is filled with the sounds of life. Where they’ve disappeared, everything from the tiniest bee to the fiercest wolf is affected. We evolved with trees and have benefited from their food, medicine, shade, and shelter since our ancestors evolved to live on land. And from towering evergreens to birches swaying in the breeze, from intricate roots gripping deep into the soil to gnarled branches carving out a place in the sky, trees make our world a more beautiful, resilient, and safer place.

    9 Reasons to Celebrate International Day of Forests

    Plant a tree today to celebrate International Day of Forests! It's a great way to show your gratitude for all that they do for us, and to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the same forest benefits that we do.

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    Meaghan Weeden
    Meaghan Weeden

    Meaghan works to share our story far and wide, manages our blog calendar, coordinates with the team on projects + campaigns, and ensures our brand voice is reflected across channels. With a background in communications and an education in environmental conservation, she is passionate about leveraging her creativity to help the environment!