Children learn to love trees for International Day of Forests

©FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli

22 March 2019, Rome — Schoolchildren learned about the ways in which forests are vital to life on the planet at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome yesterday as part of celebrations for the International Day of Forests.

As part of the event, the forty-five preteens headed out to Rome’s 900-hectare urban pine forest, Castel Fusano, accompanied by members of the national Italian police force for biodiversity and parks and FAO experts, for a hands-on learning experience in the city’s largest greenspace.

In an interactive workshop earlier in the day, the students who attend Rome’s Buonarroti middle school and the Ambrit International School, learned about how trees and forests are an important source of renewable energy and water, how they are vital to combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and how we can use them sustainably for social and economic health and growth.

According to José Graziano da Silva, FAO's Director-General, "Education is a critical step to safeguarding natural resources for future generations. It is essential for children to learn about forests at an early age."

The theme of this year’s International Day of Forests was forests and education, and aimed to raise awareness of the need to increase understanding of forests and also to encourage and inspire young people to go on to study forestry.

“When more than half the world’s population lives in cities and are increasingly disconnected from nature, it is more essential than ever to bring an understanding of forests and the benefits they bring into children’s lives at an early age,” said Hiroto Mitsugi, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Forestry Department.

“Helping children connect with nature creates future generations conscious of the importance of forests, and the need to manage them sustainably.”

FAO and the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) also ran a World Café discussion event for forestry students. At the event, students and forestry experts discussed topics such as how forestry education can best equip the next generation of foresters to enter a changing workforce, and the needs, challenges and opportunities in different regions and countries.

Contest winners
Over 1 300 people from over 60 countries entered FAO’s International Day of Forests contests in the run-up to the day. 

Ksenia Kotelnikova, Russian Federation Ksenia Kotelnikova (Ксения Котельникова) from the Russian Federation won the kids and youth contest to design the official International Day of Forests T-shirt after a public vote on FAO’s Facebook page (see her design here). 



Julianne Fetalvero, Philippines The students’ contest to make a video teaching others about the importance of forests and trees was won by Julianne Fetalvero, from the Philippines (see her video here). Honourable mentions also went to Ieva Siksaliete from Latvia (see her video here) and Osamaphi Lyngdoh from India (see her video here).

Ngalim Franklin Njaiwo, Cameroon Ngalim Franklin Njaiwo from Cameroon won the teachers’ video contest demonstrating how they teach future generations about the importance of forests (video). Honourable mentions also went to Diane Dealey Neill from the United States of America (video) and Lolita Šteinberga from Latvia (video).
Thank you to everyone who entered and many congratulations to the winners.

Celebrate with us

As celebrations for the International Day of Forests take place across the world today, tell us how you learned to love forests using the #IntlForestDay hashtag on social media, and visit the International Day of Forests website at to watch this year’s animated video, download logos, banners, posters, and check out a learning game for students.

Don’t forget to tell us about your events celebrating the International Day of Forests at and send us photos so we can add them to a gallery of events happening around the world.

last updated:  Tuesday, March 26, 2019