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International Day of Forests – 21 March

World Down Syndrome Day is observed annually on 21 March to raise awareness and show support for individuals with Down syndrome.

Context: –  March 21 is celebrated worldwide as the International Day of Forests or World Forestry Day to raise awareness about the importance of forests, woodlands and trees in our lives.

An Overview of the News

  • The day highlights the value, importance and contribution of forests to balance the life cycle on earth and addresses issues such as deforestation.
  • The theme for the International Day of Forests in 2023 is “Forests and Health”, emphasizing the interdependence between the existence of forests and our well-being. Forests play an important role in maintaining the existence of all living beings including humans.
  • International Day of Forests encourages citizens, governments, non-governmental organizations and other local, national and international bodies to plant trees and make concerted efforts to save forests from destruction.
  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests during its 61st session on 20 December 2006.
  •  Its objective was to promote awareness on the conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests in the context of poverty alleviation and global warming mitigation.
  • The decision was taken to underline the importance of forests in achieving development goals.

What is International Day of Forests?

  • The UN proclaimed 21st March as the IDF in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
  • Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.
  • The organisers are the UN Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organisations in the field.
  • The theme for 2022 is ‘Forests and sustainable production and consumption’.

About the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

  • It is the main policy-making and representative part of the United Nations and was created in 1945.
  • It is one of the six principal parts of the United Nations (UN).
  • It serves as the main deliberative, policy making and representative part of the United Nations.
  • Its powers, structure, functions and procedures are set out in Chapter IV of the United Nations Charter.
  • Its main functions are to prepare the budget of the United Nations, appoint non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General of the United Nations, receive reports from other parts of the United Nations system, and make recommendations through resolutions.

What is the Significance of Forests?

  • Forests cover one-third of the land surface on Earth and provide various environmental benefits, including their primary role in maintaining the balance of the hydrological cycle, contributing to climate regulation, and preserving biodiversity.
  • Apart from the ecological perspective, studies from an economic perspective conclude that forest resources can contribute to a nation’s economic growth and maintaining forest cover is essential for various agricultural and forestry-related activities.
  • Forests provide more than 86 million green jobs while supporting the livelihoods of many people.
  • Everyone on the planet has had some form of contact with forests. This includes communities that directly rely on these ecosystems for their lives and livelihoods or communities which rely on the products obtained from these forests.
  • Forest sustainable management and resource use are critical to preventing climate change and contributing to present and future generations’ prosperity and well-being. Forests are also important for poverty alleviation.
  • Despite these priceless environmental, economic, social, and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.
  • The FAO has estimated that 10 million hectares were cleared each year globally between 2015 and 2020. Closer home, India lost 132kha of natural forest in 2020 alone, according to the Global Forest Watch, a worldwide platform that monitors forests and changing patterns.
  • According to another study, Amazon Forests have started emitting Carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of absorbing it.

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