International Day of Forests

Next Friday, 21 March 2025

Forests are not only the lungs of the Earth, they also provide an invaluable amount of resources, are the home of thousands of species of animals and plants, and fight climate change. That's why on March 21 we observe the International Day of Forests, which raises awareness about the importance of forests in all of our lives, and the need to prevent deforestation. 

The day is an important celebration, but not a public holiday, so shops and businesses will remain open. 

A vast green forest from above, the glare from the sun obscures the top right corner

History of International Day of Forests

The International Day of Forests is now a United Nations global observance that was inspired by World Forestry Day, a holiday established in 1971 by the members present at the 16th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization. 

In 2007, two scientists in Oxford, England, from the Center for International Forestry Research believed that people underestimated the importance of forests. They wanted to highlight the latest research into forestry and bring them forward to global policymakers and members of the United Nation Framework Convention of Climate Change Conference of Parties. They organized Forest Day in different countries around the world, from 2007 to 2012. 

Eventually, inspired by World Forestry Day and Forest Day, the United Nations declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests, and on November 28, 2012, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution establishing March 21 as the International Day of Forests, to be observed by its member states every year. The first International Day of Forests was officially celebrated on March 21, 2013. 

Every year the United Nations chooses a different theme to highlight on the International Day of Forests. Some of the past themes include:

  • 2020 - Forests and Biodiversity. 
  • 2021 - Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being
  • 2022 - Forests and sustainable production and consumption

The theme for 2023 will be Forests and health.

Why is the International Day of Forests Celebrated?

There are many reasons why we should celebrate forests and make sure that they are protected from the global rise in deforestation levels, but here are a few:

1 - They are good for your health. Not only because walks in the woods are proven to improve your physical and mental health, but also because a lot of the modern medicine we take to make us feel better has ingredients that derive from the plants in forests. 

2 - They give food and shelter. The plants in forests provide many nutritious foods such as nuts, berries, sap, herbs, and even mushrooms. These are good not only for us humans but for the millions of animals who habit these ecosystems. At the same time, forests are not only the home of animals, but there are also around 1.6 billion people, and 2,000 indigenous cultures, that depend on forests for food, medicine, shelter, and livelihoods. 

3 - They are the lungs of the Earth and help cool down the temperatures. They play a crucial role in fighting climate change, ensuring that future generations can live well and with prosperity. 

4 - They provide wood and materials for everyday essentials, and with that, they create thousands of jobs. The world needs wood for construction, paper, furniture, and energy. This all comes from forests. We also need the people who responsibly collect the wood to make these essentials for us, and this is where forests are responsible for creating jobs for many people.

A short old tree in arid earth, bright blue sky
The bristlecone pine - Among the oldest trees and oldest organisms on earth

Know your forests

  • The tallest tree in the world is called Hyperion and is in the Redwoods National and State Park in California. It is an amazing 115.61 meters tall and it towers above surrounding trees. In order to prevent damage from people its location is protected by law and no one can be within a mile of it. 
  • Forests are home to 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, with an estimated 8.7 million species of plants and animals living in forests.

  • The oldest living tree in the world is a great basin bristlecone pine in California nicknamed "Methuselah". It is estimated to be over 4,850 years old, and its location is kept a secret in order to keep it protected from damage. 

  • The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world, covering over 5.5 million square kilometers.

  • Studies have shown that trees can communicate with each other through underground networks of fungal mycelia. This can include messages of warning when one tree is damaged.

The amazon rainforest, misty against a purple summer sky at dawn.
The vast amazon rainforest provides life to creatures within and all life on earth.

How to Celebrate the International Day of Forests

There are many global events happening around the world for the International Day of Forests, with talks from experts, exhibitions, etc. If there is one near you why not attend and learn more about forests and how to save them?

This is the perfect day to visit the nearest forest, woods, or state park near you, and take a hike to appreciate the beauty of nature. 

Play your part in keeping the planet going by plating some trees in your garden, or campaigning with your city officials to plant more trees around your town. 

International Day of Forests
International Day of Forests

International Day of Forests - Next years

Saturday, 21 March 2026

Sunday, 21 March 2027

Tuesday, 21 March 2028

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