News Release

The UN International Year of Forests 2011 Kicks Off

"Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life." US Campaign Gears Up

February 2, 2011 -

The U. S. Forest Service, today with partner organizations, the National Association of State Foresters and the American Forest Foundation, announce the U.S. celebration of the official United Nations International Year of Forests 2011. The theme of the U.S. campaign is “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.”

Trees and forests provide a wealth of social, economic, environmental, aesthetic, cultural and health benefits. Because of forests, millions of Americans have access to clean drinking water, an abundance of recreational opportunities, cleaner air, and countless jobs. Urban trees and forests also make important contributions by enhancing neighborhood livability, increasing home prices, and reducing household energy use and the effects of climate change. In short, trees and forests improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas alike.

“The International Year of Forests provides an excellent platform to increase awareness of the connections between healthy forests, ecosystems, people and economies,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It is also an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, reach out to new audiences, and work with partners across all landscapes.”

The U.N. launch of the international year will take place Feb. 2 and 3 at the ninth session of the U.N. Forum on Forests in New York City, in which many foreign dignitaries and ministers will participate. The program will include high-level roundtable discussions, media activities, film screenings, the issuance of the U.N. commemorative stamp series and other side events. During the official U.N. launch, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell will participate in the high-level roundtable discussion on “Forests for People.”

This year-long, world-wide celebration will raise awareness and inspire actions to sustainably manage and conserve the world’s trees and forests. The U.N. objectives are to: reverse the loss of forest cover, enhance economic, social and environmental benefits, increase the area of sustainably managed forests and to mobilize increased financial resources.

The U.S. celebration kicks off Feb. 2 with a welcome reception hosted by the U.S. Forest Service and MillionTreesNYC – a partnership between the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the non-profit New York Restoration Project – at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell will highlight the importance of working in partnership across jurisdictions, boundaries, and landscapes to help reverse forest loss, and to increase the health and productivity of forests domestically and globally. The reception will also provide an opportunity for the United States to highlight its urban forestry work to a broader international audience.

Within the United States, including its eight territories and the District of Columbia, the official campaign will be celebrated on national, regional and local levels. Using the tagline “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.” the celebration will increase awareness and understanding of the value of America’s forests. The connection of forests to health will be communicated through four major themes: clean air and water, ecosystem health, economic health and community and personal health.

The Forest Service will incorporate the International Year of Forests theme into many of the Forest Service’s annual public events such as Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day, Weeks Act 100thAnniversary Commemorations or other appropriate community gatherings during 2011.

The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) will launch an interactive website in early March to house all U.S.-based information, including a master events calendar, event host toolkit, and news on the campaign. Activities in the United States will include a series of events throughout the year and across the nation.

Project Learning Tree®, the American Forest Foundation’s environmental education program has worked with teachers and students to compile a Forest Exchange Box to show the unique characteristics of their state forests. Six of these boxes are now on display at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and all 50 boxes will be on display in Washington D.C. in March.

For more information on the International Year of Forests 2011, please visit:

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The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) is a non-profit organization representing the directors of forestry agencies in the states, territories and the District of Columbia of the United States. NASF promotes programs and activities that advance the practice of sustainable forestry, the conservation and protection of forestlands and associated resources and the establishment and protection of forests in the urban environment. For more information, visit

The American Forest Foundation works to keep forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future. AFF’s sustainable woodland system, the American Tree Farm System®, helps family forest owners manage more than 26 million acres of forest land. AFF’s Project Learning Tree® program works with tens of thousands of teachers each year, giving them a peer-reviewed, award-winning environmental education curriculum that opens a door to America’s outdoor heritage and has reached more than 75 million students.