Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

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Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/67/200 on 21 December 2012, which declared that 21 March of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests. The resolution encourages all Member States to organize activities relating to all types of forests. Activities expected to take place on the International Day include tree-planting and other community-level events, and national celebrations including art, photo and film as well as social media outreach.

The International Day of Forests is held annually on 21 March to raise awareness of the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security. Sustainable management of all types of forests are at the heart of unlocking challenges of conflict-affected, developing and developed countries, for the benefit of current and future generations.

Forests and Education – Learn to Love Forests

This year the International Day of Forests promotes education to Learn to Love Forests. It underscores the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation. Healthy forests mean healthy, resilient communities and prosperous economies.

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In the Republic of Belarus forests are one of the main renewable natural resources and the most important national resources. Forest resources occupy about 40% of Belarusian lands.

Forests and forest resources are of great importance for the sustainable socio-economic development of the country, ensuring its economic, energy, environmental and food security.

For a number of key indicators characterizing the forest Fund (forest area, forest area and growing wood stock per inhabitant), Belarus is among the top ten forest States in Europe.

Belarusian forest lands allow to get more than a billion cubic meters of wood. One person has a little less than a hectare of forest area and 140 cubic meters of wood. These figures are twice as high as the European average.

Belarusian forests are characterized by an abundance of valuable tree species. Great potential annually brings wood growth of 25 million cubic meters. Forest areas are steadily increasing and the forest begins to play an economic role. Also, the forests of Belarus perform ecological functions, have recreational use. It is worth noting that these plantations improve the biosphere and ecological environment throughout Eastern and Central Europe.

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That is why it is so important to preserve this national wealth and keep the forests in a healthy state. The United Nations proposes the following points for the conservation of forest resources:

  • You’re never too young to start learning about trees. Helping children connect with nature creates future generations conscious of the benefits of trees and forests and the need to manage them sustainably.
  • Both modern and traditional knowledge are key to keeping forests healthy. While foresters should know and understand nature well, they should also learn to use cutting-edge technology to ensure that our forests are monitored and managed sustainably.
  • Investing in forestry education can change the world for the better. Countries can help ensure there are scientists, policy makers, foresters and local communities working to halt deforestation and restore degraded landscapes.
  • Women and men should have equal access to forest education. Gender parity in forest education empowers rural women to sustainably manage forests.

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