The Year of the Forest: celebrating forests for people

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Article Published 27 Jun 2011 Last modified 21 Mar 2023
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Photo: © EEA/John McConnico
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1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. Forests are home to 300 million people worldwide

UN Forum on Forests

'In the city, we are split up from one another and it is dangerous. The forest is our birthplace and our home. We can't leave this place. The forest gives us security which disappears in the city,' a member of the Soura tribe, Orissa, East India, says.

Forests are not just trees: they are communities

2011 is the United Nations Year of the Forest, focusing on the people who live in and depend on forests around the globe. Throughout the year we will reflect on the role forests play in our lives. Forests are communities made up of plants, animals, microorganisms, soil, climate and water. Forests are also the complex interrelationships among organisms (including us) and the environment they live on.

Forests cover over 30 % of the earth's surface. They are one of the most important 'storehouses' of biological diversity on land: home to more than two-thirds of known terrestrial species and the largest share of threatened species on earth.

Forests help keep us alive: they clean our air and our water. They nurture our soil and provide many of us with food, shelter and medicine. Forests regulate the local, regional and global climate and store carbon that could otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

On the other hand, forests are also full of valuable resources that we can use. Today forests represent some of the key choices we face as a species. Can we balance the desire to exploit forest resources and land with the other crucial roles they play in our planet's life-support system?

Over the coming pages you will meet interesting people who have strong connections with forests around the globe. From the Congo to India and back to Europe we will hear stories about forests and the people living there. Celebrate 2011 by thinking about your local forest and what it means for you and future generations.


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