21 Mar 2017

International Forests Day 2017: Exploring interlinkages between forests and energy

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In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21st March the International Day of Forests (IDF). The International Day is organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and it celebrates and raises awareness on the importance of all types of forests.

Recent study in 2016 shows that forests cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s land surface or 8 percent of its total surface area. Ten countries hold about two-thirds the world’s forest cover, led by Russia (7.8 million square kilometers), Brazil (4.8m sq km), Canada (3.1m sq km), the United States (3m sq km), China (1.8m sq km) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (1.8m sq km).

Each year, for the International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to celebrate it through local, national and international initiatives and activities focusing on forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

The theme for 2017 is Forests and Energy. More specifically, the key messages the International Day focuses on are:

• Wood energy from the forest: a major source of the world’s renewable energy
• Wood energy: powering economic development
• Wood and trees: optimal urban living and lower energy bills
• Wood energy: mitigating climate change and fostering sustainable development
• Forests are vital to the planet for many reasons, including:
- Providing shelter for more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
- Contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air.
- Protecting watersheds, which supply fresh water to rivers.

Increasing the use of wood or wood-based materials in construction and in products such as furniture, flooring, doors and window frames can represent a significant opportunity for emission reductions, particularly when wood is used to substitute nonrenewable materials such as concrete, metal, bricks and plastic.

The capacity for mitigating climate change through increased wood use can only be realized with an adequate supply of sustainably sourced wood to meet increased demand. As increased wood production may be necessary, it is essential that it is not associated with land-use changes having negative environmental impacts. (source: FAO/ http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5857e.pdf  )

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