Focusing on the multiple links between forests and water systems, the International Day of Forests is celebrated today around the globe.
The Day aims to highlight the role of forests in supplying most of the world's accessible freshwater as well as building and strengthening resilience, especially to the impacts of climate change.
21 March 2016: Focusing on the multiple links between forests and water systems, the International Day of Forests is celebrated today around the globe. The Day aims to highlight the role of forests in supplying most of the world’s accessible freshwater as well as building and strengthening resilience, especially to the impacts of climate change.
In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlines that the world’s forests are essential to realizing a shared vision for people and the planet, and central to the future prosperity and the stability of the global climate. He calls on governments and partners to adopt holistic policies and practices to protect, restore and sustain forests.
Seven Forest and Water key messages are being promoted to make the Day. They include: forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs; about one-third of the world’s largest cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking water directly from forested protected areas; the water security of nearly 80% of the world’s population is threatened; forests act as natural water filters; climate change is altering forests’ role in regulating water flows and influencing the availability of water sources; improved water resource management can show considerable economic gains; and forests have a crucial role in building and strengthening resilience.
In a statement marking the Day, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Braulio Dias notes that forests are crucial to the sustainable management of water ecosystems and resources, and that water is essential for the sustainability of forest ecosystems. Noting that the links are inseparable, he called for a greater understanding and appreciation of the value of forests and the ecosystem services they provide to enable decision makers to better assess the trade-offs associated with alternatives for land and water use.
Also for the Day, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) highlights that tropical forests provide crucial environmental services, and that there is strong evidence that sustainable forest management can protect water catchments, thereby helping to maintain downstream water quality, reducing flooding and sedimentation, and contributing to local livelihoods.
On the occasion, special events have been organized around the world, including at the UN Headquarters in New York, US, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, and at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. [UN Secretary-General’s Message] [UN Press Release] [UNFF Webpage on the Day] [FAO Webpage on the Day] [FAO Key Messages] [FAO Video] [UNECE Webpage on the Day] [CBD Message] [ITTO News] [FOREST EUROPE Press Release] [UNECE Press Release]