This year’s UN International Day of Forests encourages the restoration of forests around the world not only for climate change but for personal wellbeing. Find out what you can do to get involved.

International Day of Forests takes place on the 21st of March and is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of trees and forests in all countries.

International Day of ForestsFirst proclaimed by the United Nations National Assembly in 2012, the global event encourages countries to organise local and national projects, debates and activities that promote the benefits and importance of all types of forests.

This year the theme is ‘Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being’, which highlights the vital role forests not only play in combating climate change, but in the lives of local communities.

Covering over a third of the world’s landmass, it’s estimated that around 1.6 billion people, including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures, depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter. Any reduction in forest area has an alarming effect on the people living in and around them, and forests are crucial in alleviating poverty and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Of course, while forests undoubtedly play a part in maintaining the wellbeing of humankind, they also provide a home to much of the world’s wildlife, as well as supporting many communities that live in or near them. “Forests are home to about 80% of all terrestrial wildlife,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “They also help regulate the climate and support the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people.”

Restoring forests will improve our environment

The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest – about the size of Iceland – each year, and land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares, an area larger than South America. Forest loss and degradation emit large quantities of climate-warming gases, and at least 8 percent of forest plants and 5 percent of forest animals are at extremely high risk of extinction. The restoration and sustainable management of forests, on the other hand, will address the climate-change and biodiversity crises simultaneously while producing goods and services needed for sustainable development.

World Land Trust

One organisation that has first-hand knowledge of the importance of forests is World Land Trust, an organisation dedicated to protecting huge areas of forestry around the world. Backed by a host of leading environmentalists, including Sir David Attenborough, the conservation charity funds the creation of reserves to provide permanent protection for the world’s most biologically significant habitats.

Since its formation in 1989, World Land Trust and its overseas partner organisations have purchased and protected over 2.2m acres of tropical habitat – habitat that otherwise would have been lost. And with that habitat comes the conservation of a vast amount of wildlife, including hundreds of threatened species.

“As well as the wildlife, forests are absolutely vital for so many people around the world,” says Dan Bradbury, Director of Communications and Development at World Land Trust. “I remember going to Guatemala – we were about to fundraise for a large project there. I met some of the local people and it really struck me just how important the forest is to them. If we didn’t save that bit of forest, that’s their livelihood gone, that’s their water supplies suddenly gone. It was a powerful moment.”

How to get involved

While there are many activities going on around the world on the International Day of Forests, one way businesses can get involved on a longer-term basis is by choosing Carbon Balanced Print and Paper. The scheme allows brands and organisations to offset the carbon impacts of their paper and printed communications through the protection of some of the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats.

As well as giving businesses the opportunity to make their printed communications more sustainable, the Carbon Balanced programme also provides unique and highly impactful communications tools. Users can proudly demonstrate their positive action by using the prestigious World Land Trust logo on their printed communications. Certificates and a suite of marketing materials can also be used for promotion and awareness building.

Since the programme launched 10 years ago, thousands of brands have chosen Carbon Balanced Print and Paper, including DFS, Hello Fresh, Lidl, Matalan, Neal’s Yard, Ocado, People’s Postcode Lottery, helping offset over 200,000 tonnes of CO2e.

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