International Day for Forests 2021: Restoring forests will help recovery and well-being

Today, we commemorate the International Day of Forest in the midst of the COVID 19 global pandemic in Indonesia and across the world.

Today, we commemorate the International Day of Forest in the midst of the COVID 19 global pandemic in Indonesia and across the world.  

Human health has never seemed more important as we look to build back better and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  Healthy forests also contribute to human health.  Forests provide health benefits for everyone, such as fresh air, nutritious foods, clean water, and space for recreation. In developed countries, up to 25 percent of all medicinal drugs are plant-based; in developing countries, the contribution is as high as 80 percent. 

Agricultural landscape in the Ciwidey Forest, West Java

Forest also provide healthy diets. "Adat" communities typically consume large amounts of food harvested in forests.  But so do we all: who doesn’t love jackfruit, durian, salak, duku, mango, rambutan, peanuts, tengkawang, petai, palm hearts and so many other foods that are derived from forests!   

“Forest destruction is unhealthy for the environment and for people –  as well as increasing carbon emissions and reducing biodiversity we should remember that nearly a third of emerging infectious disease are linked to land-use change such as deforestation." said Richard Trenchard, FAO-Representative ad interim for Indonesia.  

Agricultural land on the slope of the Ciwidey forest, West Java

The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest a year – more than half the size of Sulawesi –  and land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares, an area larger than South America. Forest loss and degradation emit large quantities of climate-warming gases, and it is estimated that more than eight percent of forest plants and five percent of forest animals are at “extremely high risk” of extinction. 

The Indonesian government released recent data showing that last year’s deforestation rate was the lowest in five years. In 2019, MOEF has rehabilitated around 400 thousand hectares of forests and during the pandemic, MoEF plans on increasing number of seedlings that will be planted in 2021.  

Welcoming the Government’s efforts, Trenchard added “The progress is really good news for all of us. The restoration and sustainable management of forests will help address the climate-change and biodiversity crises simultaneously while producing goods and services needed for sustainable development."

Forests provide more than 86 million jobs worldwide and support the livelihoods of many more people. The 2020 State of Indonesia’s Forests report, prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, reports that more than 400,000 people are directly employed in timber and non-timber forest production each year in Indonesia. Wood from well-managed forests supports diverse industries, from paper to the construction of tall buildings. Investment in forest restoration will help economies recover from the pandemic by creating even more employment. 

Organic Farming area is bordered by forest in Kembayan Village, West Kalimantan

 Every tree counts 

Small-scale planting and restoration projects can have big impacts.  And not just in rural areas. City greening creates cleaner air and more beautiful spaces and has huge benefits for the mental and physical health of urban dwellers.  

Investing in ecosystem restoration will help to restore the health of people, communities and the environment. It offers the prospect of putting trees and forests back into degraded forest landscapes at a massive scale, thereby increasing ecological resilience and productivity.  

“We can recover from our planet’s health, environmental and economic crises. Forests can help defeat poverty and hunger and reduce inequality.  Let’s restore our forests, build back better and achieve the future we all want.“ Trenchard added.  

Media Contacts
Author
Richard Trenchard
FAO
Representative a.i
Dick Trenchard has more than 25 years development, humanitarian and crisis experience. A land tenure and property specialist by background, he has worked for the United Nations at FAO, IFAD and WFP (on secondment).
Before this dual appointment as FAO Representative ad interim for Indonesia and Timor-Leste in November 2020, he was head of Regional Policy and Senior Adviser for the Near East and North Africa, based in FAO’s regional office in Cairo, focusing on transforming food systems for healthy diets, rural growth and sustainable environmental management. Previously, he has been FAO’s first “Whole of Syria Coordinator” and FAO Representative in Somalia, playing a key leadership role in an unprecedented – and successful – international and national effort to prevent famine warming becoming the spectre of famine. He also has experience from a range of sudden-onset and complex emergency settings, including South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur), Liberia, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Rwanda and has supported development programmes and operations in more than thirty other countries.
Previously, he has played advisory roles in FAO’s Senior Management team and been part of technical teams providing longer-term development support to countries around the world, mainly on land tenure and livelihood-related work.
He has a PhD from Cambridge University (UK).
Richard Trenchard
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations