|Forests take centre stage in 2011|
2011 has been declared the International Year of the Forest by the United Nations. Worldwide forests cover a third of the land territory, about 10 per cent of the earth's surface.
Forests are natural habitat for more than two-thirds of all species. Forests are economic areas and an economic good and last but not least part of our cultural heritage.
Forests are at risk worldwide. Every two seconds a forest area as big as a football field is destroyed. Every year 13 million hectare are deforested - an area comparable to the size of Greece. In addition to deforestation, burning and degradation with fast growing tree species or genetically modified species is threatening the forests. To address these issues, the United Nations declared 2011 the International Year of Forests.
More than 1,6 billion people are directly and existentially dependent on forests. Forests are habitat, livelihood and pantry. They are water storage, protect against floods, avalanches and erosion, and, as a green lung, produce oxygen and bind carbon dioxide.
Trade in forest products have a value of estimated 300 Billion Euros per year. The United Nations point out that only sustainable and ecological forest management will ensure this variety of functions in the long term.
Worldwide, events and activities based on the motto “Forest for people” will focus on the protection of forests.
Further information on the International Year of the Forests can be found at www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011.
Mira Beinert, January 2011