World Environment Day: What Forests Mean to You
June is here and World Environment Day 2011 is right around the corner. On Sunday, June 5th UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) and millions of people around the world will be gearing their support and activities towards the theme of this year’s WED, “Forests: Nature at Your Service”.
Why was this particular theme chosen? Well, forests cover approximately 1/3 of the Earth’s land mass and over a billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. The trees in forests also play a big role in climate change. They are essential to capturing and storing carbon dioxide while at the same time releasing oxygen into the air. These are just a few of the ways forests are “Nature at your service”:
- They help feed the rivers
- They help maintain soil fertility
- They help provide natural shelter
- They lessen the impacts of weather-related incidents such as storms, floods or fires
- They are home to around half of the land-based plants, animals and insects
- They provide oxygen and help “clean” the air we breathe
- They nurture life and livelihood on Earth itself
Image by Iriskh
Can you imagine life on Earth without forests? Without trees? Neither can I. Take a look at these 29 reasons for planting trees. It’s easy to see how vital they are to our survival. Yet despite that fact, forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate of over 13 million hectares (around 32 million acres) per year.
Image by reduse.org
Thankfully, there are still steps that can be taken to reverse this destructive trend. Some of it is simply a matter of changing people’s viewpoints. Possibly even turning forest conservation into a business opportunity. Per UNEP’s figures, an investment of $30 billion to fight deforestation could result in $2.5 trillion in new products and services, not to mention all the new jobs that would be generated.
It’s all about being able to imagine and bring about a world in which forests are part and parcel to sustainable development and intrinsic to green economies. Doesn’t that sound like a world you’d like to live in?
Want to know what you can do to contribute to the actions behind World Environment Day? How about help by planting a tree. If you can’t plant one in your own backyard, then check out these resources to help plant trees in areas that need them most:
- Thank someone by planting a mangrove tree via Grow-Trees.com, a company from World Environment Day’s host country, India.
- Help The Nature Conservancy reach their goal of planting a billion trees in the Atlantic Forest.
- Plant a tree through plantatreeusa.com where they are “Celebrating life one tree at a time™“.
If you’re looking for more ways to “go green” or even help make your day-to-day a little more forest-friendly, check out the World Environment Day’s A-Z list.
Last but not least, if you are wondering what impact your individual actions can have on the world, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon reminds us that,
“Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.“
With forests and nature at our service, doesn’t it make sense for us to be at theirs? Join WED and millions of people around the world to celebrate World Environment Day on June 5th, 2011. And may this one day simply be another stepping stone on the road to a brighter future.