MOSTAR, March 21 (FENA) – The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Adria today marks International Day of Forests under the slogan “Reforestation – the path to recovery and prosperity”, emphasizing the importance of these ecosystems whose destruction endangers human health and the health of our planet.
“From the air we breathe to the trees we use, forests are key to our lives, they are the habitat for more than half of the world’s species, and globally more than a billion people live in and around forests. After the ocean, forests are the largest carbon storage and despite all the services they provide us, we are destroying forests at an alarming rate,” WWF Adria said in a statement.
The International Day of Forests on 21 March is an annual celebration of the world’s incredible forests. To mark the day, we’re highlighting key facts about forests and why we need to protect them.
It’s not just wildlife that needs forests, people need them too. Around 300 million people live in forests with more than a billion people depending on them for their livelihoods. Across the globe people rely on forests for shelter, water, fuel, food and traditional medicine.
Forests are home to around 80% of the world’s terrestrial species. From tigers and jaguars, to mountain gorillas and orang-utans, some of the world’s most iconic animals rely on forest habitats. Forests are complex ecosystems made up of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. We’re still discovering new forest-dwelling species every year!
Forests are crucial in the fight against global warming, by absorbing carbon from the air. But if forests are burned, cleared, or even disturbed, that carbon is released as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It’s estimated that 10% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the destruction of forests. To effectively tackle climate change we must end deforestation and restore forests across the world.
Illegal logging is a serious threat to forests. It’s been responsible for driving some wildlife towards extinction – and it deprives forest communities of vital resources and damages local livelihoods, costing an estimated £23 billion each year. Illegal logging threatens some of the world’s most famous and valuable forests, including rainforests in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia.
Across the world, women have a great deal of knowledge about natural resource management, but their ability to access and use these resources is often limited by their weaker resource rights. In poorer parts of the world women continue to be very dependent on forest goods and services and are likely to be more impacted by forest destruction than men.
Forests are coming under more pressure than ever as demand for food and fuel grows.
Every year, around 10 million hectares of forests are destroyed, making way for activities like cattle pasture, palm oil plantations, soy fields or roads. Most of this is happening in tropical regions, where there is a particularly rich variety of life.
Even larger areas are suffering from degradation – where the forest remains, but its richness and health is in decline. Threats include illegal and unsustainable logging, overharvesting of wood for fuel and charcoal, small-scale farming, hunting, forest fires, and pests and diseases.
All this threatens the survival of countless species, fuels climate change, jeopardizes people’s livelihoods and undermines the vital services that forests provide.
“There is no doubt that the quality of our lives largely depends on preserved forests, which regulate the climate in which we live, mitigate floods, protect land, provide drinking water, provide shelter to various wild species and more. It is high time we seriously change our attitude towards forests so that they can continue to provide us with these existential services. In the coming period, our public policies should set concrete and ambitious goals for the restoration of forest habitats, in terms of improving their ecological status, not just increasing area or afforestation rates,” pointed out Goran Sekulić from WWF Adria.