The United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to promote awareness of the vital importance of forests to our lives and to encourage the sustainable use of forest resources.
Forests cover approximately one-third of Earth’s land area and harbor much of Earth’s biodiversity. Forests provide people with clean air, clean water and valuable cultural and recreational opportunities. Additionally, forests play a key role in carbon sequestration and storage that helps to mitigate climate change.
Population growth and the increasing need of land for food will put a great deal of pressure on our forest resources. Many scientists are actively working on ways to improve agricultural efficiencies to lessen the impact that growing food has on forest resources.
The film “Of Forests and Men” created by Yann Arthus-Bertrand was selected as the official film for the International Year of Forests. The film contains stunning aerial images of forests and is narrated by Edward Norton.
You can join in the International Year of Forests celebration in many ways: go for a walk in the woods, plant a tree, host a local event that can be showcased on the “Forests for People” website or come up with your own unique idea to honor trees.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.