TODAY -

Forest is the most important vital organ of the Earth
21st of March - International Day of Forests

N Munal Meitei *



International Day of Forests is celebrated on 21st of March since 2012 to increase public awareness about the values, significance and contributions of forests for existence of life on the earth. Forest is the lungs of the Earth. Forests are crucial to the future and the planet.

Forests are one of our greatest natural treasures that we must preserve and protect for survival of all living beings. This year’s theme, ‘Forests and Innovation’ calls for giving, the critical role that forests play in the world of innovation and vice versa.

This day is also a wake-up call for global leaders to take action against climate change. Almost all aspects of our life are related to forests. Sustainable forests management and their resources is the only way to deal with climate change and preserve the future for future generations.

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass and perform vital functions around the world giving the resources like the food, fuel, medicines, fodder, essential oils, resins, latex, gums, fiber, water and woods. Almost 28% of world population ie 1.6 billion people-including more than 2000 indigenous cultures-depend on forests for their livelihood. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems.

Forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity; including 80% of amphibians, 75% of birds and 68% of mammals. Forests provide habitats for planet’s most iconic species like the tiger, lion, Sangai, giant panda, gorilla and orangutan.

Forests provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities who themselves protect the forests. Forests play a key role in our battle in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Forests contribute in balancing the oxygen, carbon dioxide, humidity and water cycle. Forests protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide. Thus, forests provide priceless ecological, economic, social and health services.

Forests is source of flora and fauna on the planet. When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine or build a house, we do not remember the inter- connection with forests but in many aspects, our lives are linked to forests. Healthy forests mean healthy, resilient and prosperous live.

Forests are the complex living community of the trees which provide home to a big range of animals and the soil beneath it that inhabit variety of inverte- brates, fungi and bacteria playing significant role in balancing the soil nutrients. Data shows that forest loss worldwide is equivalent to an area of 11 football fields per minute which is amoun-ting to 41 million trees per day.

Forests are the natural beauty on the earth which need to conserve for an ecological balance. Defores- tation accounts for 16 to 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Every second, forests provide quality and benefits to lives on Earth.

Forests have always been crucial to human life and economies and they will become increasingly significant as the global human population grows by another 30% – to 9 billion people–by mid-century. At the same time, our forests will face many threats as a result of unsustainable use. As we move forward, our forests must play a crucial role in supporting the growth of a global green economy.

Innovative solutions, to ensure sustainable forest management is the need of the hour. Such policies outline that the forests can be a key part of green economy for an innovative market, both for the public and private sectors in long-term solutions.

At the local level, forests benefit us with timber, medicines, fuelwood and ecotourism industry. At the regional level, forests provide ecosystem services such as water regulation, soil stability, flood mitigation and air quality. And at the global level, forests make an important contribution to economic develop- ment, biodiversity conservation and climate regulation including gene pools, pharmaceuticals products etc.

Forest absorb 28% of all carbon dioxide released from industries next to ocean. Globally the overall carbon storage of forests constitutes 54% of the 2,200 gigatons of the total carbon pool in terrestrial ecosystems.

Forests act as massive water pumps through water transpiration. Loss of forest cover linked to environmental tipping points such as drought and insect epidemics and increased natural hazards. Forests help to produce clean water in rivers and streams by reducing sediment loss from watersheds.

Non-timber forest products play an important role in the livelihoods of many poor who live in or near forests. The forest sector employs some 10 million people and sustainable forests can meet the future livelihood of many more communities.

Forests suffer from multiple market failures for the benefits that they produce and the costs of their destruction in the visible economic terms. The current economic system usually fail to recognize the value of the existing natural forest capital with its potential to provide continuing services and cash flows. Integrating forests into a green economy will require innovative policies and market solutions that are presently not recognized.

Human health is inextricably linked to forest health. When we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go. The entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences for all of us. Meanwhile, time spent in forests has been shown to have a positive benefit on conditions including cardiovascular disease, respiratory concerns, stress, diabetes and mental health.

Therefore to protect forests, the green gold, let’s plant more trees-cut your living costs but not trees, eat sustainable food, use the recycled and biodegradable products. Then only we can save the forests and mother earth for the future generations. Environmentalist, [email protected]


* N Munal Meitei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 23 2024.



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