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Forests & biodiversity: International Day of Forests 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—March 21 is the United Nations International Day of Forests. This year’s theme, forests and biodiversity, celebrates how forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. USDA Forest Service International Programs Office commemorates the day each year showcasing effective partnerships and environmental stewards domestically and abroad.

While large presentations, communal tree plantings and school visits are cancelled worldwide due to COVID-19 precautions, the celebration continues online. The forestry community will spend the weekend advocating for the importance of the world’s forests and its contributions to biodiversity, wood and non-timber products, and water resources. It will also share stories about world forestry, such as the one International Programs recently wrote about its partnership with Vietnam. The Green Fence Restoration Project in the Quang Nam Elephant Reserve entailed planting a natural barrier between the iconic Asian elephant and the local community. The green fence will decrease human–wildlife conflict and create new opportunities for livelihoods in Vietnam.

In addition to the International Day of Forests, this weekend contains other global days of celebration. World Wood Day is also celebrated March 21, and highlights wood as an ecofriendly, renewable resource and the key role it plays in a sustainable world. The 8th annual international event for World Wood Day 2020, themed LEGACY, will explore legacies of wood use, rooted in tradition and culture, and what it means for the future.

World Water Day is March 22, and it highlights the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater and natural resources. This year focuses on the links between water and climate change. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization produced a short video to call for immediate action.

UN international days started in the aftermath of World War II and with the creation of the first United Nations Day in 1948. Over the decades, various causes that require international cooperation and attention are added by the UN General Assembly for global designation. According to the UN, international days can be powerful advocacy tools to educate the general public, raise issues of concern, mobilize political will and resources, and celebrate achievements of humanity. International Day of Forests was added to the UN’s roster in 2012. It was supported by the UN Forum on Forests and all UN member countries. 

Although many events are canceled due to coronavirus, you can share and find information using #IntlForestDay on Twitter and Instagram. Thank you to all the Forest Service employees who participated this year and in past celebrations. Please email Aysha Ghadiali, International Programs, to let us know if you post online to commemorate the day!