FAO Regional Office for Africa

International Day of Forests : “Forests and Water”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Loss of forests threatens global natural water supply

From Left: Ghana's minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Nii Osah Mills; FAO Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative for Africa, Mr. Bukar Tijani (Photo: ©FAO/Samuel Creppy)

21 March 2016‪, Accra – ‪ Deforestation and forest degradation continue to pose a threat to the supply of natural water, and would subject an estimated extra 2.3 billion people to severe water stress.

In a period of 25 years, Africa experienced large forest area loss equivalent to 81 million ha. The loss represents about 11.5 percent of forest area. This is explained by the increase in population and forest conversion to other land uses, primarily for agricultural purposes.

Against this backdrop, FAO held a press conference in Accra to mark the International Day of Forests themed “Forests and Water”.

Ghana’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Mr. Nii Osah Mills, attributed the recent shortage of water, experienced in some parts of Ghana to the drying up of rivers, making young and children and women traveling for long distances in search of water.

The Minister called for more trees to be planted along water bodies to prevent them from drying up, saying when sustainably managed, forests contribute significantly to reducing soil erosion and the risk of landslides and avalanches, natural disasters which can disrupt the source and supply of freshwater.

On his part, Mr. Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa recalled that nearly 80 percent of the world’s population are exposed to high levels of threat to water security. Africa is one of the regions of the world that is likely to be most negatively impacted by the phenomenon of climate change.

‪He noted that climate change is altering forests’role in regulating water flows and influencing the availability of water resources. “If sustainably managed, Africa’s forests will contribute significantly to climate change adaptation at regional level and mitigation in the global context”, he said.  


The International Day of Forests is celebrated every year in recognition of the ways in which forests and trees sustain and protect us. This year’s event aims at raising awareness of how forests are key to the planet’s supply of freshwater, which is essential for life.

In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 21st as the International Day of Forests. This important decision culminated into a 42-year journey to gain formal recognition of the invaluable services and products that forests and trees provided to the environment and humanity.



Useful links

FAO International Day of forests 

Forests Resources Assessment



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