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International Day of Forests 2024 – Forests and innovation: new solutions for a better world

International Day of Forests-Forests and innovation new solutions for a better world

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March 20, 2024

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Published:

March 20, 2024

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Forests are the lungs of our planet. To raise awareness of their significance, March 21 is celebrated as the International Day of Forests. This year, the focus is on innovations that allow us to monitor forests and conserve them.

The United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as the International Day of Forests in 2012. Symbolically, the beginning of spring should remind us of their multifaceted importance.

Forests cover one third of the land mass. They are the most biologically diverse and one of the most complex ecosystems on land, hosting more than 80% of terrestrial animal, plant, and insect species.

Conservation and sustainable use of forests are among the best ways to preserve nature on the planet and human health. Forests play a key role in combating climate change.

Unfortunately, deforestation and degradation worldwide threaten their survival. Hence, the theme of this year’s Forest Day is ‘Forests and Innovations: New solutions for a better world’, highlighting the role of technology and innovations in preserving forest ecosystems.

It is also a call to action to harness technological innovations to address the growing risks of deforestation, habitat degradation, and climate change. Innovations can help us sustainably restore, protect, manage, and use our forests.

The significance of innovation in forest conservation

Innovations and technology have transformed countries’ ability to monitor their forests and collect data. It is estimated that the world’s forests contain 662 billion tons of carbon, accounting for more than half of the world’s carbon stocks in soil and vegetation.

Agricultural expansion is the main driver of deforestation

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 10 million hectares of forest are lost annually due to deforestation. FAO estimates that 420 million hectares have been lost for land conversion since 1990.

The expansion of agricultural production is the main driver of deforestation, forest degradation, and loss of forest biodiversity. Deforestation accounts for 12% to 20%of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fire seasons are becoming more extreme and widespread

Fires are a natural occurrence in some forest ecosystems. However, one consequence of climate change is increasingly extreme and widespread fire seasons, even in tropical rainforests, where they are atypical and particularly damaging.

According to FAO data, 70 million hectares of forests disappear annually in fires. Forests degraded due to logging, diseases, and fragmentation are more susceptible to fire.

Forest fires release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming, often causing irreversible damage to forest ecosystems.

Technological innovations such as satellite monitoring and drones could serve as early warning systems and potentially prevent damage.

Indigenous peoples are guardians of the remaining untouched forests

Human populations have relied on forests for thousands of years. Local communities worldwide still depend on forest biodiversity.

Areas inhabited by indigenous peoples include some of the most pristine forests. Through land mapping and conservation, as well as providing access to climate financing, technological innovations can empower indigenous peoples in their mission to preserve forest biodiversity.

Research and science are also pushing the boundaries of forest use as a resource. From construction to medicine, innovations help create alternatives to unsustainable materials such as concrete, steel, plastic, and synthetic fibers, while sustainable wood products store carbon.

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