The International Day of Forests – March 21 – will be celebrated across Australia and around the world with leaders agreeing today’s concept of sustainability goes far beyond just producing a sustained yield of timber.
Multi-purpose social, environmental, health and economic benefits represent the true value of our forests and the ecosystem services they provide are better understood than ever before.
Stating the importance of ‘connecting people to nature’ is not something that is likely to elicit much challenge from well informed health professionals, and the return on investment for public money in terms of health and quality of life benefits is difficult to dispute.
Foresters within both the urban and rural environment have done more than most to deliver those benefits which are amplified in the International Day of Forests 2023 theme ‘Forests and Health’.
Peak Australian Forest Association calls for more trees to be planted.
On this special day, the Australian Forest Products Association is calling on all policy and political decision makers to better recognise the potential forest industries provide for the nation to meet its emission reduction targets and fight climate change.
“The 2023 theme is promoting the endless benefits forests provide in improving health globally,” CEO Joel Fitzgibbon said.
“One of the biggest threats to health is climate change which is where better political and policy recognition of sustainable forest industries can make a difference,” he said.
“Australia needs climate solutions to meet emission reduction targets and forest industries should be a key part of the mix. Growing more timber trees in plantations and native forests locks up carbon while increasing our future local supply of sustainable timber and wood fibre. This also enhances Australia’s sovereign capability while creating sustainable jobs for thousands of people, many in rural and regional areas.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said global demand for wood fibre was forecast to grow exponentially by the middle of the century … “so the opportunities for Australia to make an even larger climate mitigation contribution through timber trees, while supplying the world with sustainable timber and wood fibre products is huge.”
AFPA calls on all policy and political decision makers to better recognise Australia’s forest industries’ potential to fight climate change and meet emission reduction targets.”
Forestry is the key to fight climate change, says IPCC.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sustainable forestry and forest products are crucial in the fight against climate change.
The IPCC’s AR6 Synthesis Report mentions agroforestry, diversified agriculture, improved forest management, and sustainable forest products as adaptation options to address climate change.
Nathan Paine, CEO of the South Australian Forest Products Association, stated that “our sustainably grown and managed forests have the potential to lead the nation, and the world, to combat climate change and decarbonize our economy.” With global demand for timber and wood-fibre increasing, there is an opportunity for the forestry industry to help reduce emissions and lead the world.
Forestry Australia is investing in the science of forestry.
Forestry Australia has gone further, investing in a forest science policy program, a new approach to resourcing these activities to improve its advocacy and communication of evidence-based forest management.
CEO Jacquie Martin says that committing resources to the new program will assist the organisation to promote and advocate science-based forest management; raise Forestry Australia’s profile; and improve outcomes for, and understanding of, science-based forestry.
Ms Martin said the strategic investment in the program was a response to members’ desire to improve advocacy and communication to the public and policy makers on science-based forest management and complement the work being undertaken by the advocacy committee, the board and national office.
What is World Forestry Day?
Later that year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation gave support to the idea believing the event would contribute a great deal to public awareness of the importance of forests and agreed that it should be observed every year around the world.
March 21, the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere and the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, was chosen as the day to celebrate information about the three key facets of forestry – protection, production and recreation.
Healthy forests for healthy people
As we celebrate International Day of Forests, it’s crucial to remind ourselves of the immense benefits that these green spaces provide to our well-being, says the Forest Stewardship Council in an International Day of Forests message.
From providing clean air, water, and soil, to food sources and regulating the water cycle and temperatures and filtering pollutants, forests are critical for our survival. Furthermore, forests are habitats for a diverse array of plant and animal species, some of which possess medicinal properties that can be utilised to address various health conditions.
But it’s not just physical health that forests impact, says FSC International. Studies have shown that spending time in nature and among trees can profoundly impact our mental health, reducing stress and anxiety and improving overall well-being.
As we become increasingly aware of the significance of forests for human health, it’s evident that it’s essential to prioritise their preservation and sustainable management.
FSC is a sustainable forest management solution that operates as an international non-profit organisation backed by renowned NGOs and businesses worldwide. Its impact in Australia and New Zealand is substantial, with more than 2.5 million ha of forests certified under FSC’s standards for responsible forestry.
According to Stuart Blanch, senior manager of the Toward Two Billion Trees program at WWF Australia and FSC ANZ director, “sustainable forest management is critical for the health of our planet and people.”
Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries says International Day of Forests brings an important message that certification provides confidence to consumers that forest-based products come from responsibly managed forests.
Responsible Wood is the National Governing Body for PEFC International, the world’s largest forest certification scheme.
“By choosing certified products, consumers are helping to support sustainable forest management practices, which in turn helps to protect forests and the vital ecosystem services they provide.” Mr Dorries said.
Certification schemes such as the FSC, PEFC and Responsible Wood scheme provides a transparent and credible means of verifying that forest-based products meet strict environmental, cultural, social, and economic standards.
“Certification is an important tool for ensuring that forests are managed in a way that balances the needs of stakeholders, forest workers and the environment,” Mr Dorries added.
To mark the special day, Wood Central is calling on businesses and consumers alike to commit to using certified products wherever possible.
By choosing certified timber, paper, and other forest products, consumers can help to create a market for sustainably managed products and support the responsible management of our forests, at home and abroad.
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