Preserving the world forests will generate new jobs and mitigate climate change.
Revitalizing degraded forest is critical for meeting the United Nations target of increasing global forest area by 3 per cent, in time for the 2030 deadline. Doing so would also help countries create new jobs, prevent soil erosion, protect watersheds, mitigate climate change and safeguard biodiversity.
It is estimated that two billion hectares of degraded land worldwide could potentially be restored.
The sustainable management of the world’s forests took center stage last week at the UN Forum on Forests at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Forests cover 31 per cent of the Earth’s land area, contain over 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and store more carbon than the entire atmosphere.
“Forests are one of Earth’s most valuable ecosystems,” said Li Junhua, Under Secretary-General for UN Economic and Social Affairs, at the opening session of the forum. “They also form a vital social and safety net from some communities that rely on forests for food and income.”
More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment and income. Some two billion people, roughly one third of the world’s population—and two thirds of households in Africa—still depend on wood fuel for cooking and heating.
Woodlands play a critical role in tackling poverty, providing decent work, and promoting gender equality, all essential for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Lachezara Stoeva, resident of the UN Economic and Social Council, told the forum
Forests and trees provide clean air and water and sustain people regardless of where they live. Zoonotic diseases account for 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases, and they usually occur when natural landscapes, such as forests are cleared. Restoring forests and planting trees are an essential part of an integrated “one health” approach for people, species and the planet.
“Forests offer solutions,” Forum chair Zéphyrin Maniratanga said, encouraging greater engagement of forest communities in all related processes in climate action in fighting against desertification, land degradation and climate change.
One of the main causes of deforestation in Bolivia, for one, is the expansion of mechanized agriculture. Every year, the world continues to lose 10 million hectares of forests, an area roughly the size of the Republic of Korea. The world’s forests are at risk from illegal or unsustainable logging, forest fires, pollution, disease, pests, fragmentation, and the impacts of climate change, including severe storms and other weather events.
In the reforestation site of Merea, Chad, children are planting acacia seedlings for the future. In the past 50 years, Lake Chad Basin shrank from 25,000 square kilometers to 2,000 square kms. UN news