Celebrating International Day of Forests – March 21, 2013


The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests.

The Day will celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

Click here for the full text of the UN Resolution.

Today is the first International Day of Forest.

forests22-300x257The four “Fs” – food, fodder, fiber and fuel” says the Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “are threatened by climate change and population growth“.

Eduardo Rojas-Briales says with the population expected to increase to nine billion by 2050, the underlying worry is the huge tension around land use which will affect the four “Fs”.

In this interview with Donn Bobb, Eduardo Rojas Briales first talks about the Day.

To celebrate the International Day of Forests, you can share your photos of forests and tree planting initiatives on this web site. Show the world how trees, forests and their surrounding environments make a difference to the community where you live.

Above you can submit photos by logging in as a guest. Check the terms and conditions for image specifications.

Each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost, an area roughly the size of England. As go the forests so goes the plant and animal species they embrace – 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity. Most importantly, forests play a crucial role in climate change including global warming: deforestation causes 12-18 percent of the world’s carbon emissions – almost equal to all the CO2 from the global transport sector. Equally crucial, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary ‘carbon sinks.’

It is not too late to reverse this destructive trend if we act now. Forests still cover more than 30% of all the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 tree species, many still undiscovered. The forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion of the world’s poorest people by providing food, fiber, water and medicines, as well as regulating environments. Those supported include indigenous peoples with unique and precious cultures.



forest 2Forest Day began as a casual conversation in Oxford, England, in February 2007, between two scientists who felt the world was underestimating the importance of forests in mitigating carbon emissions and saw a glaring need for the latest forestry research and thinking to inform global policy makers and UNFCCC negotiators.

They did not foresee that the conference would become one of the most influential global events on forests and climate change today.

Each Forest Day is convened by Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on behalf of and in close cooperation with its fellow members in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).


Woodsy Owl and Smokey Bear give each other a fist bump at the International Year of Forests celebration for U.S. Department of Agriculture employees, on Friday, June 3, 2011 in the Patio of the Whitten Building, Washington, DC.

FORESTRTEmagicC_logo_IDF_GVAThe “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.” campaign is the official U.S. celebration. Coordinated by the National Association of State Foresters in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. celebration aims to elevate awareness and understanding of the value of America’s forests and showcase the connections between healthy forests, people, ecosystems and economies. The goal is to provide all forestry stakeholders with ideas and resources to participate in the celebration over the year.

On 9 February 2011, Deputy Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Ann Tutwiler, and Assistant Director-General of the Forestry Department, Eduardo Rojas-Briales, launch the 2011 edition of the FAO flagship publication State of the World’s Forests (SOFO). The State of the World’s Forests reports on the global status of forests, recent major policy and institutional developments and key issues concerning the forest sector.

On 9 March 2011, New Zealand’s Minister of Forestry, Hon David Carter, launched the International Year of Forests at Parliament Buildings in Wellington, New Zealand. Hon Carter said, “They [forests] are an integral part of our natural resource-based economy, they provide a range of environmental benefits, and they have cultural significance.”

On May 5, 2011, at the Romanian Academy has been a national debate regarding the “2011- The International Year of Forests”.

On July 15, 2011, in honor of International Year of Forests The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Lands and Forests kicked off the Celebrating New York’s Forests Photo Contest. This contest is an effort to increase awareness of and appreciation for all types of forests, urban and rural, large and small, public and privately owned, across the state.

Forest Day 1

danielwebJournalists interview Center for International Forestry Research scientist Daniel Murdiyarso
The inaugural Forest Day was one of the major events at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in Bali, Indonesia on 7 December 2007. More than 800 people participated in Forest Day, including scientists, members of national delegations, and representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

A major feature of Forest Day was four parallel panel discussions focusing on cross-cutting themes related to forests and climate change. These well-attended discussions examined such issues as setting baselines and methodological challenges in estimating forest carbon; markets and governance challenges associated with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+); adaptation to climate change; and equity-efficiency trade-offs.

Areas of consensus emerging from the discussions included the following:

  • While there are significant methodological challenges to be surmounted, current methods are “good enough” to proceed with the design of mechanisms for reducing emissions from both deforestation and degradation.
  • Governance-related challenges pose the greatest risks for both international investors and local stakeholders in the context of new mechanisms.
  • Mechanisms should be simple, and should not repeat the mistakes of the Clean Development Mechanism.
  • The success of any REDD+ mechanism will depend on the political will to address the drivers of deforestation, including drivers that originate beyond the forestry sector.
  • Adaptation efforts need to shift from responsive to anticipatory, and should be focused on the most vulnerable, including forest-dependent people.

Forest Day 2

Yvo.de.BoerSub-plenary 1, organized by IUFRO, CIFOR, ICRAF and PROFOR-World Bank, discussed the cross-cutting theme “adaptation of forests to climate change.” Panelists included (L-R): Bruno Locatelli, CIFOR; Gerhard Dieterle, World Bank; Markku Kanninen, CIFOR; Balgis Osman-Elasha, IUFRO; and Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF).

Building on the positive response to the first Forest Day held in Bali, Indonesia, Forest Day 2 brought together nearly 900 participants to discuss the opportunities and challenges of bringing forests into global and national strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Participants stressed the broad importance of forest ecosystems and noted that forests comprise an inter-dependent web of animals, plants and microorganisms, which together provide a wide range of goods and services beyond carbon sequestration. These include biodiversity conservation, rainfall generation and products that are crucial to the livelihoods of local forest dependent and indigenous peoples as well as to the economies of many countries.

Those attending recognized the importance of building on the vast knowledge and experience that exists on sustainable forest management (SFM) and called on negotiators to consult with forest stakeholders as they develop climate policy.
Frances Seymour, Director General of CIFOR delivered a summary of Forest Day 2 to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. This summary was drafted by a committee representing members of the CPF, and included points of consensus as well as points of disagreement that emerged during the course of the day.

Seymour highlighted the need to:

  • Include forests in climate mitigation and adaptation mechanisms and strategies
  • Ensure full inclusion and participation of civil society in international, regional, national and local decision-making processes
  • Recognize and respect the rights of women, poor people and Indigenous Peoples.

Forest Day 3

DENMARK-COP15-FOREST-CLINTONFormer U.S. President Bill Clinton addresses a gathering via video link from New York as delegates look on during Forest Day 3 in the Falconer Convention Center in Copenhagen.

Nearly 1500 stakeholders attended Forest Day 3 held in Copenhagen, Denmark on 13 December 2009 including 34 donors, government representatives, 88 journalists, 500 NGO representatives, indigenous leaders, 188 private sector representatives and hundreds of scientists and forestry experts. Their goal was to ensure that the design and implementation of forest-related climate mitigation and adaptation measures under consideration in the Climate Change Agreement would be effective, efficient and equitable.

Although the UNFCCC failed to agree on binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, significant progress was achieved in negotiating the outlines of a REDD+ mechanism. The Copenhagen Accord that emerged was the first international agreement to recommend that financial resources be raised to support REDD+. Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States offered a US$3.5 billion funding package for REDD+ preparation.

Moreover, one of the indicators of the relevance of Forest Day – its ability to attract world leaders – became clear at Copenhagen.

Key speakers at the event included:

  • Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement and Nobel laureate
  • Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister
  • Hilary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Former US President Bill Clinton appeared via video and Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom was among the keynote speakers.

Forest Day 4

Daniel Nepstad during Forest Day 4, Cancún, Mexico

Forest_day_4_dan_napForest Day 4 took place on 5 December 2010 in Cancún, Mexico. More than 1,500 people including over 280 Climate negotiators were in attendance.

The theme for Forest Day 4 was “Time to Act,” highlighting the urgency of ensuring the survival of the world’s forests, the biodiversity they embrace and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them. The event served as a bridge between the International Year of Biodiversity and the 2011 International Year of Forests. Forest Day 4 was hosted by the Government of Mexico, through the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), CPF and CIFOR.

His Excellency President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, in his opening speech at FD4, told the plenary “… it’s time for all of us to push, and push hard for the full incorporation of REDD+ into a long-term international climate change agreement.”

In a passionate plea, the Mexican president also stressed, “Either we change our way of life now, or climate change will change it for us.

Keynote speeches by Daniel Nepstad, Director of the International Program at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and Mirna Cunningham Kain, Chair of the Center for Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples, emphasized the critical needs for both sound forestry and climate change science, and pro-active engagement with indigenous people and forest-dependent communities as the de facto and de jure custodians of land and forest resources to secure equitable outcomes. UN Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang provided an important forward-looking perspective, drawing participants’ attention to the multiple benefits of forests and the International Year of Forests in 2011.

Key issues discussed at FD4 include:

  • Harnessing REDD+ to sustainably manage forests and reduce poverty: The day saw the emergence of a robust consensus that the risks of no action on protecting the world’s forests are far greater than the risks of moving ahead with less-than-perfect agreements.
  • REDD+ provides a key and cost-effective opportunity to mitigate climate change: FD4 participants reaffirmed that through REDD+ we may significantly reduce, remove and avoid global emissions at reasonable cost, as long as we take due account of the rights and livelihoods of indigenous people and local communities, biodiversity and ecosystem services, whilst assisting developing forest countries adapt to climate change.
  • The rights of indigenous people and forest-dependent communities need to be protected: Communities would be more willing to engage with REDD+ initiatives if they were to participate in all aspects of REDD+ design and implementation, if they are granted rights to the carbon in their forests, if they play a central role in the design of local rules, and if REDD+ does not permit more powerful competitors to threaten local interests.
  • Additional financing is needed to implement REDD+ at scale: An agreement on a robust and predictable system for mobilizing financial resources from various sources is needed, primarily in developed countries. This will be needed to stimulate and pay for early REDD+ action at scale, technology transfers, capacity building and the development of national and sub-national monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, among others.
  • Biodiversity conservation is a prerequisite for the success of REDD+: More than 90 percent of FD4 participants polled said that biodiversity safeguards are either “very important” or “essential” for the success of REDD+, and more than 95 percent said that it is important to monitor co-benefits.
  • REDD+ and agricultural drivers of deforestation: FD4 participants proposed several options to increase agricultural intensification whilst reducing net annual rates of deforestation including: increasing production efficiencies; promoting multifunctional landscapes; directing REDD+ financing to increase efficiencies in agronomic practices; and shifting extensive production systems to low carbon landscapes.
  • Promoting synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation across landscapes: More research is needed to explore linkages between adaptation and mitigation in forests at different scales. Two specific challenges – agreement on monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, and continued improvements in forest governance were also discussed.
  • Strengthen linkages between national and subnational MRV systems for REDD+: Challenges remain for monitoring forest degradation and peatland emissions but these may be overcome with significant additional capacity building and technology transfer, including the application of novel technologies. Examples include Google’s Earth Engine (demonstrated by Rebecca Moore, Head of Google’s Global Outreach Program prior to the Closing Plenary of FD4), Open Data Kit and androids for forest biomass measurements with communities.
  • Improve accounting rules for forest management in developed countries: More comprehensive accounting on forests will be beneficial both for the climate and for forests. Participants acknowledged that this is a complex and controversial issue, but success in reaching agreement on new rules would help smooth the way for agreement on new emission reduction commitments by developing countries for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • The success of REDD+ strategies and projects will depend on whether they influence governance reforms or are shaped by existing governance failures: The ability of developing countries to enhance the role of their forest resources in mitigating climate change is closely linked with their commitment to governance reform. There are also huge challenges to reform the embedded structures of past poor governance. However, the legality and legitimacy of REDD+ are likely to depend on a balance between central oversight and decentralized decision making, clear tenure and transparent and equitable benefit-sharing arrangements.
  • Reinforcing the UNFCCC momentum on forestry and climate change : A key challenge of COP16 in Cancún is how existing mitigation and financing pledges made through the Copenhagen Accord can now be transformed into official commitments under the UNFCCC. This may require abandoning the “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” global climate change architecture approach to ensure that a balanced cluster of decisions can be made in negotiating areas that remain close to agreement. This will ensure that commitments can be translated into actions in 2011.

Forest Day 5
The 2011 COP 17 was hosted by Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011. Forest Day 5 took place on 4 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. CIFOR convened the event, which was co-hosted by 11 members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the Government of South Africa through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. More than 1,100 people from 82 countries attended, including 214 official climate-change negotiators and 65 media representatives.

durbadn_cop_poster0The theme for Forest Day 5 was ‘From Policy to Practice’, aiming to inform the COP agenda and forest stakeholders on ways to implement the REDD+ agreement reached in Cancún in 2010 to produce social and environmental benefits, and to integrate forests into adaptation strategies on the ground.

Organizers gave special attention to issues relevant to sub-Saharan Africa, to REDD+ issues facing the humid tropical forests of the Congo Basin, and to the improved management and use of Africa’s dry forests areas.

The link between forests and food security was also one of the main themes of the day. The organisers of Forest Day 5 and Agriculture and Rural Development Day (which was held on 3 December 2012) coordinated in the months leading up to the events to identify opportunities for tie-ups between the two events. A number of joint, similar-themed discussion forums were held on climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry and food security.

As in past years, Forest Day 5 attracted several high-level speakers. In all, more than 60 speakers and panellists took part in Forest Day 5, with six of the ten keynotes presented by Women.

Forest Day 6
The 2012 COP 18 is to be hosted by Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 7 December 2012. Forest Day 6 will take place on the sidelines of COP 18 on 2 December 2012, and will consider issues ranging from REDD+ financing to adaptation, desertification, reforestation and afforestation.


Published on Dec 13, 2012
Oscar-winning film-maker Nick Park, the magic behind Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, invites you to share your forest story and submit your short film to the International Forest Film Festival. In this video, Nick talks about his childhood imaginations and personal love of forests.

To take part in the International Forest Film Festival, your submission can be up to 2 minutes long, about your own relationship to the forest. For more details, please visit HERE.


FAO Forestry statistics

FAO Forestry Department works with statistics in the following areas:

Global compilations of comparable statistics

  • annual data on production, import / export and consumption of forest products (FAOSTAT-Forestry and FAO Yearbook of Forest Products);
  • pulp and paper production capacities and recovered paper data surveys; and
  • every fifth year report on forest resource statistics (Forest Resources Assessment);

Country support

  • CountrySTAT – a web-based information technology system for food and agriculture statistics at the national and subnational levels:
  • collection of forest resource statistics aimed at improving the country capacity for planning and policy development (National Forest Monitoring and Assessment).


Welcome to CountrySTAT

CountrySTAT is a web-based information technology system for food and agriculture statistics at the national and subnational levels. In practice, it acts as a one stop center which centralizes and integrates the data coming from various sources and allows to harmonize it according to international standards while ensuring data quality and reliability.

This supports analysis, informed policy-making and monitoring with the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. Through national and regional CountrySTAT projects, FAO forms partnerships with statistical offices and the ministries of agriculture, fisheries and forestry among others to introduce the system and build the national capacity to use it. In each country, the national government makes a substantial contribution to ensure its deployment and continued training and maintenance.


Enquiries IDF@fao.org.

Twitter @FAOForestry

We’ve also developed posters and web banners using the International Day of Forests logo for your use. And feel free to share the video and spread the message.

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