Forest Service applauds the United Nations’ second annual International Day of Forests

Robert Hudson Westover
Office of Communication, U.S. Forest Service
March 21st, 2014 at 2:45PM

A world without forests would be pretty bleak. Life as we know it couldn’t exist. In fact it would, more than likely, be a dead planet. That’s because everything we take for granted; clean air and water, abundant wildlife and nearly every product we use in our daily lives, from the roof above our heads to pencils, wouldn’t exist.


It would be a challenge just to live one day without using a product derived from a tree. Aside from paper, you might not even be able to sit in a chair or desk at school or work. These things are part of our everyday existence because of forests.


Since trees are important for everyone around the world, the United Nations (U.N.) has designated every March 21 as the International Day of Forests.


The U.S. Forest Service has a long history of knowledge-sharing with international partners and recognizes the importance of the International Day of Forests in showcasing the role of forests in the health of our diverse and interconnected global ecosystem.


“International Day of Forests helps continue the conversation about the importance of forests throughout the year,” said Dave Cleaves, climate change advisor for the U.S. Forest Service. “Climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues confronting the world today and the environmental stressors on forests from our changing climate do not stop at international borders.”


Lands managed by the Forest Service provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply – a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. In addition, U.S. forests alone absorb 11 percent of carbon dioxide emissions – a significant cause of global warming. These lands also contribute more than $13 billion annually to the U.S. economy through tourism.


The Forest Service’s International Programs also works with other countries to promote sustainable forest management and conservation. One example of this work is the effort to eradicate invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer which has caused enormous damage to nation’s ash trees.


Because the ash borer originates in China, the Forest Service collaborates in eradication efforts with the Agriculture Research Service and scientific institutions in China where the pest has natural enemies. Finding natural predators for the ash borer, which is far more effective than other suppression methods, can be a practical way to control its spread in the U.S.


Only through this type of international collaboration can the Forest Service work to combat the destructive impacts of forest pests brought into the United States accidentally from other countries.