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Editorial:  Global celebration of 1st International Day of Forests, 21 March



Ministers in Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Korea and high-level officials in Rome were just some of the people who led the transformation of the International Day of Forests from a long-awaited and highly-welcomed UN General Assembly Resolution into a visible day of celebration, contemplation and vision for the future. See how other communities celebrated around the world.

Tlemcen, Algeria, III Mediterranean Forest Week

Algeria was a driving force behind the International Day of Forests resolution that was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2012. To celebrate the Day, a series of high-level activities took place. Key among them was a tree planting event in Tlemcen, with the presence of the Minister for Agriculture and other national dignitaries, which also attracted a wide range of other stakeholders. The event was one of the highlights of the Third Mediterranean Forests Week, as well as the venue for the launch of the first State of Mediterranean Forests 2013 report. Read more

Importance of forests and landscapes highlighted at FAO headquarters

FAO headquarters in Rome celebrated the International Day of Forests with a series of events bringing together FAO staff, members of the Rome diplomatic corps and authorities from the host country. External visibility was provided by a mega-banner hanging outside the building, which announced to the city that this new UN Day had arrived. FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva opened the ceremony with a strong call to countries to set a global zero illegal deforestation target because “stopping illegal deforestation and forest degradation would do much to end hunger, extreme poverty and bring about sustainability”. Representatives from the Government of Algeria and the Italian Corpo Forestale dello Stato also made important contributions to the ceremony. The opening was followed by a multisector technical panel, chaired by Eduardo Mansur, Director of the Forest Management Division, comprising FAO experts and a senior scientist from the Italian University of Tuscia. The panel discussed the many dimensions and challenges of forests in the landscape context and helped explain the crucial roles of forests and trees in sustainable rural systems.

The celebration included the launch of two new publications: Forests and water – international momentum and action and Towards the assessment of trees outside forests. The event was open to a global audience through webcasting.

Multi-stakeholder celebration in Northern Ghana recognizes role and protection of forests

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, traditional chiefs, religious leaders, opinion leaders, local goodwill ambassadors, regional administrative staff, students and the general public all contributed to the highly successful celebration in Ghana of the first International Day of Forests. Organized by the Forestry Commission of Ghana in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and with the support of the FAO Regional Office for Africa, the FAO Subregional Office for West Africa and FAO Ghana, the event took place in Tamale, the capital city of Ghana’s Northern Region, to raise awareness amongst the Ghanaian public about the crucial role that forests and trees play in the country’s social and economic development. Under the theme “Protecting the forests: my responsibility”, the event drew the attention of the public to their individual and collective responsibilities for sustainable forest use and management. The occasion concluded with a symbolic tree planting in the grounds of a local school.

Egypt highlights strategic role of trees in combating desertification

To mark the first International Day of Forests, the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and the Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with FAO in Egypt, celebrated with a tree-planting event in the Egypt-Japanese Friendship Forest, in Wadi El Natroon, Behera Governorate.

In their opening statements, H.E Salah Abdel Momen, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, and Mr. Moujahed Achouri, FAO Representative in Egypt, highlighted the strategic role that forests and forestry can play in conserving soil, water and biodiversity and, most importantly in Egypt and the Near East region, in combating desertification. They also stressed the vulnerability of forests in the Near East region, where low forest cover coupled with water scarcity and the looming threat of climate change make natural and planted forests particularly exposed to further degradation. Such threats can be mitigated, said the speakers, through sustainable forest management combined with adequate afforestation programmes.

Kenya forging ahead with tree planting

Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa led the inaugural celebration of the International Day of Forests organized by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in close collaboration with FAO and UNEP. Minister Wekesa said that 100 million tree seedlings had been planted across the nation in 2012 and 120 million seedlings were available in 2013. Kenyans from all walks of life were being encouraged to take advantage of the timely seasonal rainfall to plant trees. In a press statement, the Minister said that Kenya had increased forest cover from two  percent to more than six percent over the last five years and was now focused on achieving the targeted ten percent cover stipulated in Kenya’s development roadmap Vision 2030. The Minister hailed the initiative by schools to introduce tree planting to school-going children at an early age, as this will ensure a new generation of conservationists.

During the celebration, held at the Ngong Road forest in Nairobi, the FAO Representative, Dan Rugabira, planted a ceremonial tree and delivered an address on behalf of the UN family. Various conservation organizations also attended the celebration, which had the theme “Towards a 10 percent forest cover: the responsibility of every Kenyan”.

Korea to plant one million trees on National Arbor Day

The Republic of Korea prepared a number of events to celebrate the first International Day of Forests, including a nationwide tree-planting campaign and hosting of the International Workshop on Forest Landscape Restoration. The international workshop, organized by the Korea Forest Service, was attended by more than 150 participants and widely covered in the national media. The event was opened by H.E. Dr. SHIN Won-sop, Minister of the Korea Forest Service, and featured presentations by IUCN, ITTO and FAO Senior Forestry Officer, Patrick Durst. Korean experiences with forest landscape restoration and plans for future collaboration were presented by Dr. LEE Yong-kwon (Director, International Cooperation Division, Korea Forest Service), Dr. LIM Joo-hoon (Senior Forest Researcher, Korea Forest Research Institute), and Dr. PARK Congho (Acting Executive Director, ASEAN-Korea Forest Cooperation Secretariat).

Following the formal workshop, field visits were conducted to showcase past forest restoration work at the Model Forest in Daegwallyeong, Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province. The Republic of Korea has demonstrated phenomenal success in forest restoration, returning expansive areas of severely degraded lands to productive ecosystems, using a wide range of innovative approaches. In the 1960s Korea embarked on ambitious forest restoration programmes that increased average forest growing stock from 5.6 cubic metres per hectare in 1953 to 125 cubic metres per hectare in 2010. The country’s landscapes were transformed, and now more than 64 percent of the land area is under forest cover.

Linking the International Day of Forests with Korea’s National Arbor Day (5 April), plans have been made for President Park Geun-hye to lead around 100 000 people from 283 central and local government agencies to plant about one million trees in 500 hectares nationwide. Another one million seedlings will be distributed at the country’s 175 mass transit subway stations to promote tree-planting opportunities to the general public.

Forest policy talk in Geneva highlights green economy as future opportunity

In Geneva, the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, together with the United Nations Office in Geneva, organized a high-level policy talk on the contribution of forests to sustainability and development. Presenters spoke about how maintaining the health and productivity of forests in different regions of the world contributes to sustainable development and the creation of a healthier society by meeting a variety of needs of multiple stakeholders. Eva Muller, Director of FAO’s Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division, presented a global perspective on sustainable forest management, including the significant contribution that forests can make in the pursuit of a green economy. Read more

Local children plant trees in Kyrgyz Republic

In the Kyrgyz Republic, FAO, in collaboration with ecological NGO networks, the Mountain Partnership, local administrations and members of the local community, celebrated the International Forest Day on Saturday, 23 March 2013.  Four hundred fir, poplar, oak and birch trees were planted by participants. The activities were funded through voluntary contributions by participants, and included ecological quiz games and competitions conducted by NGOs for the village children.

See IDF photos from around the world

Tree plantings photo gallery
FAO Headquarters events: Flickr


Forest news

3rd Mediterranean Forest Week concludes with adoption of the Tlemcen Declaration

Week-long policy discussions at the 3rd Mediterranean Forest Week in Tlemcen, Algeria, towards a strategic framework for the subregion culminated in the adoption by the high-level segment of the Tlemcen Declaration, which called for greater focus on the sustainable development of Mediterranean landscapes. Read more about the week

 Landmark publication on state of Mediterranean forests

State of Mediterranean Forests 2013 represents a turning point in documented knowledge and data on forest ecosystems and woodlands that form part of the Mediterranean landscape. Launched in Tlemcen, Algeria, the report was jointly produced by Plan Bleu and FAO over three years with multistakeholder contributions. It will be an essential reference for policy-making in the subregion ...  Read more

European policy-makers to recognize uniqueness and value of Mediterranean forests

Mediterranean Forest Landscapes was the theme of a European Parliament Intergroup conference that served as a platform for European parliamentarians, policy-makers and FAO officials to recognize the specific attributes of and challenges to Mediterranean forests. A comprehensive EU forest policy which recognizes the true value of the forests’ ecosystem services was one of the key proposals put forward ...  Read more

FAO Forestry head to lead UN system preparations for Expo 2015

©UN Photo/Rick BajornasThe UN Secretary-General has appointed Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry, as Commissioner-General for UN system preparations for Expo 2015, a global non-commercial exposition. Running from May to October 2015 in Milan, Italy, Expo 2015’s theme will be “Feeding the planet, energy for life”, focusing on food security, women and nutrition, sustainable development and climate change. Read more


´╗┐Regional news

Successful launch of Forest & Farm Facility in pilot countries

Workshops to launch the Forest & Farm Facility in five pilot countries – Gambia, Guatemala, Liberia, Nepal and Nicaragua – were held in March, with Myanmar to follow in May. The workshops discussed the Facility’s relevance and added value to governments and farmer organizations, and the initial activities that the Facility would support. Read more 


Upcoming meetings and events

FAO Commission considers roadmap for sustainable management of world's forest genetic resources 15–19 April 2013

The FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will meet in regular session at FAO HQ, Rome, on 15–19 April. Of significance to the global forestry community will be the Commission’s consideration of the draft report on the state of the world’s forest genetic resources and the draft strategic priorities for action for the conservation, sustainable use and development of forest genetic resources. Read more

UNECE/FAO/InnovaWood Seminar on Innovation in the Forest Sector, Geneva, 22 April 2013

Innovation can be considered a prerequisite for the green economy as well as for a sustainable future, in which most products originate from renewable resources and materials are chosen according to their overall environmental impact. Conference participants will learn about the key role of innovation in the forest sector for a green economy. Read more 

Joint FAO/UNECE Working Party on Forest Statistics, Economics and Management, 35th Session,  23–25 April, Geneva, Switzerland

The Working Party is to provide guidance and exchange views on issues of forest statistics and other elements of the ECE/FAO Joint Work Programme. Delegates represent ECE/FAO member states as well as NGOs. Read more

First FAO international conference addressing forests and food security, 13-15 May, Rome, Italy

Worldwide, nearly a billion people go hungry every day. With the world population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050, global agricultural output must expand by an estimated 60 percent to meet global food needs. The International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition will increase understanding of the crucial role that forests, trees on farms and agroforestry systems can play in improving the food security and nutrition of rural people, especially in developing countries. Read more

1st Global Timber Forum, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy, 22–23 May 2013

Responsible timber trade is a key conduit for addressing illegal logging and its impact on deforestation. The 1st Global Timber Forum, convened by the FAO Forestry Department, the European Timber Trade Federation and the Forest Trust, will be an important platform for sharing experiences on changing global timber trade dynamics and for generating ideas to foster more responsible trade in timber. Read more

Forest Products and Technologies for the Future, 22–24 May 2013, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

Jointly organized by the Federal Forestry Agency of the Russian Federation and the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, the workshop will take place at the Saint Petersburg Forestry Research Institute on  the margins of the international conference on “Innovation and Technology in Forest Sector”. The workshop will look at the key technologies that can define the modernization of the Russian forest sector to maximize its potential as a global mitigator of climate change and an important source of timber in response to the growing demand for sustainable forest bioenergy. Read more


Recent publications and videos

New video on sustainable forest management in Viet Nam

A new video has been produced by the Finland-FAO Forestry Programme to highlight sustainable forest management and the Programme’s work in Viet Nam. Mapping forests – the path to green growth can be viewed here: ENGLISH FRENCH SPANISH

New publications from FAO Forestry
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last updated:  Tuesday, June 25, 2013