Happy International Day of Forests!

One third of our planet is covered by forests, and World Forestry Day on March 21 is a great time to enjoy, celebrate and protect them.

International Day of Forests was introduced in 2012 by the United Nations, and is celebrated annually on March 21. The theme this year is a very apt one: Forest Restoration: a path to recovery.

Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the well-being of current and future generations.

Forests perform vital functions around the world. They are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 per cent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.

Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy and income. Yet despite performing these important functions, our forests are disappearing at an alarming rate.

According to the United Nations, 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, which accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

How can we celebrate International Day of Forests?

On March 21 – or at any time throughout the month, there are lots of ways to celebrate World Forestry Day.

1 - Plant a tree
Whether you have a large property, a garden or a balcony, you can plant a tree. You may need to check with your local council before planting in the ground, and get advice from your local garden center about the best species to buy for your area. There are some great tips on how to plant a tree here. Another alternative is to pay an organization to plant a tree on your behalf by making a donation, or sponsoring a tree through your local government. There are plenty of options!

Image of planting a tree

kram-9 via Shutterstock

2 - Take a hike
The benefits of being in nature, specifically forests, is well documented. So much so, that the Japanese coined the term “shinrin-yoku”, which means forest bathing. It simply means being in nature, connecting to it with all of the senses, and giving our minds a break from everyday life. Even a small amount of time in nature can have a positive impact on your health, so disconnect from technology for a while and take a two-hour forest bath to help center yourself.

Happy lady walking through rainforest

Day2505 via Shutterstock

3 - Calculate your carbon footprint
Calculating your carbon footprint can help you work out your emissions in number of tonnes of carbon dioxide. You simply input your transportation and energy usage details into the carbon calculator to calculate the number of emissions you expend each year. The calculator will also help you work out where can you offset or neutralize your emissions.

Carbon footprint water droplet on leaf

pics of my life via Shutterstock

4 - Commit to buying tree-free
One of the best things we can do to protect our forests is reduce our use of paper products and save on water where we can. Go tree-free in your bathroom by purchasing tree-free toilet paper made from bamboo, or recycled toilet paper, and keep those showers short.

Bamboo toilet paper

Did you know? Forests and woodlands are made up of over 60,000 tree species