The United Nations General Assembly established March 21 as the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012 with the goal of celebrating and raising awareness for the importance of all forest types across the planet. 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. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and the theme for 2017 is “Forests and Energy.”
The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is promoting the IDF effort, and key messages for 2017’s wood energy theme include:
- Wood fuel provides 40 percent of today’s global renewable energy supply—as much as solar, hydroelectric and wind power combined.
- About 50 percent of global wood production (around 1.86 billion cubic meters) is used as energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation. For 2.4 billion people, wood fuel means a cooked meal, boiled water, and a warm dwelling.
- Almost 900 million people, mostly in developing countries, are engaged in the wood-energy sector on a part- or full-time basis.
- Modernizing the wood energy sector can help revitalize rural economies and stimulate enterprise development. Greater investment in wood energy production and advanced wood fuels can provide revenue to finance better forest management, more growing forests and more jobs.
- Strategically placed trees in urban areas can cool the air by between 2 to 8 degrees C.
- Globally, forests hold an energy content approximately 10 times that of the world’s annual primary energy consumption; they have significant potential as renewable resources to meet global energy demand.
- Greater investment in technological innovation and in sustainably-managed forests is the key to increasing forests’ role as a major source of renewable energy. This allows us to invest in our sustainable future and grow the green economy.
- Increased areas of sustainably household and community woodlots and the use of clean and efficient wood stoves can give millions more people in developing countries access to cheap, reliable and renewable energy.
Visit the International Day of Forests homepage for more information about specific event celebrations. You can also view the new report titled “Forestry for a low-carbon future” about integrating forests and wood products to develop climate change strategies, and test your knowledge about forests and energy via a 10-question quiz.