International Day of Forests aims to save depleting woodland

The United Nation’s International Day of Forests aims to inform people across the world about how important trees really are, and why they need our help

The United Nations isn’t holding back when it comes to promoting global awareness days. After yesterday’s hugely successful International Day of Happiness, today (21 March) marks the first ever United Nations International Day of Forests.

The day is designed to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of forests and trees for all life on Earth, and countries around the world have been busy promoting activities and initiatives to help forest areas flourish.

Forests cover one third of the planet’s land mass, sustaining a variety of animal and plant life, but deforestation and disease pose an ever-greater threat both at home and abroad. According to The Woodland Trust, a total of 1043 UK woods have been under threat from development over the last ten years.

However, a number of charities and schemes are fighting to ensure that such areas are not only preserved, but expanded. Thanks to conservation charity Trees for Life, for example, forest restoration efforts are bringing new or renewed life to many ancient native woodlands in Scotland. One of the charity’s key projects this year includes the ambitious Million More Trees campaign, a bid to establish a further million trees through planting and natural regeneration by 2017.

“Projects such as ours provide an inspiring and practical way for people from all walks of life to help make a personal and positive difference – to help restore natural wonders such as the Caledonian Forest and to reverse the global trend of deforestation,” said Trees for Life’s executive director Alan Watson Featherstone.

And they’re not alone. Three-year project Branching Out West Lothian (BOWL) focused on encouraging local people and schools to get out and enjoy woodland areas through a fun programme of education, awareness, competitions, and art. Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Greenwood Tree Project is helping locals to understand and appreciate the importance of Veteran trees. And last year train company First Transpennine Express donated nearly £30,000 to tree and woodland conservation projects in the North of England.

Meanwhile, those concerned about the woodland in their area can take advantage of The Woodland Trust’s WoodWatch toolkit, which provides clear advice on the action tree-lovers can take to protect their local forests. Thanks to the trust, community action has already saved many forest areas around the UK, including a huge expanse in Rannoch, which was under threat by a hotel development, and as much as 25% of north Lincolnshire’s ancient woodland, which had been threatened by plans for a golf course.