29.05.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector, UNEP

Forests: Nature At Your Service


World Environment Day (WED) is a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations. This annual event is the most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year.

This year, WED supports the UN’s International Year of Forests with the theme, Forests: Nature at Your Service, which underscores the many essential life-sustaining values that forests provide and the intrinsic link between our quality of life and the health of forest ecosystems.

For all seven billion of us, our present and our future depend on conserving and restoring the world’s forests. Forests provide many important natural resources, such as timber, fuel, rubber, paper and medicinal plants. Forests also help sustain the quality and availability of freshwater supplies. More than three quarters of the world’s accessible freshwater comes from forested catchments. Water quality declines with decreases in forest condition and cover, and natural hazards such as floods, landslides, and soil erosion have larger impacts.

As a result of the growing global pollution levels forests have often come to be referred to as the ‘lungs of the earth’. This is particularly because deforestation and forest degradation account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which forests would absorb if carefully managed.

UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme (MAB) promotes economically viable and ecologically sound management of tropical forests. This programme aims to set a scientific basis for the improvement of the relationships between people and their environment globally. Its activities notably span research, conservation and training.
Forest management is also a key aspect of risk reduction, especially landslide risks.

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