A nice infographic for International Day of Forests:
The International Day of Forests, celebrated by the United Nations for the first time today, March 21, highlights the vital importance of forests in our lives and the need to defend the world’s forests from pressures on several fronts.
Read FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva’s blog post on the day to learn more about the importance of forests and trees to all life on earth and about the threats facing them.
“On the first International Day of Forests we can make a start by planting a tree and giving back to forests just a little of what we have taken. In planting a tree we plant our future. In giving to forests we give to ourselves and to our children.”
Or watch this somewhat eerie video:
In Syria’s neighbouring countries, food vouchers help refugees keep hunger at bay. After decades of excessive logging and reduced water flow, Mount Kenya is becoming green again. And a new plant breeding technique helps farmers in the high Andes of Peru.
In the latest episode of Hungry Planet, researchers measure carbon levels stored within Tanzania’s forests; Brazilian farmers turn to sustainable agriculture to rehabilitate the natural environment; and Mali refugees arrive at the M’bera refugee camp in Mauritania in search of food and safety.
The Hungry Planet series showcases how the three UN food agencies – FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme – are working to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges in their joint battle against chronic hunger.
It’s not just for pandas – and may provide a solution to the problem of deforestation and soil degradation in Africa, according to The New York Times’s Tina Rosenberg.
“Under the right conditions, [bamboo] can grow a full meter a day — you can literally watch it grow….
“Its roots grab onto soil and hold it fast. Plant bamboo on a steep slope or riverbank and it prevents mudslides and erosion. And bamboo is parsimonious with Africa’s most precious resource: water.”
A new report from The National Wildlife Federation offers policy recommendations to reconcile the conflicting demands of forest conservation, agricultural production and climate change mitigation.
Addressing the questions of how to feed a growing global population while at the same time curbing deforestation, deleterious land use conversion and associated greenhouse gas emissions, The Food, Forest and Carbon Challenge proposes strategies for meeting food demands and protecting forests.
While the authors of the report stipulate that agriculture is a primary driver of deforestation, they also recognize the need to increase production. One of the primary messages is that yield gains are necessary to curb agricultural expansion, yet alone they will not be sufficient to protect forests. Forest protection efforts and policies are argued to be essential to curb demand for more land-intensive products, such as beef and vegetable oils. Biofuels are also a contentious subject in the report, spurring recommendations to only promote them where it is possible to use waste and biomass from otherwise unproductive lands.
So what does this publication put forth as the next frontier? More research is needed on the potential of “underutilized land, particularly land in countries likely to experience agricultural expansion.”
A video tribute to the life and work of Professor Wangari Maathai kicked off Forest Day 5 yesterday in Durban, South Africa. The Nobel Peace laureate, conservationist and politician who led an international movement for women’s rights and environmental preservation died in September of this year.
“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make the leaders change. So we must stand up for what we believe in and we cannot be intimidated.”
Watch the video:
A brief video on the International Year of Forests You Tube channel provides information on an FAO-supported project to protect Mongolia’s forests, which have suffered because of such factors as increasing timber demand, overstocking of cattle and mining. Mongolia has about 188,000 square kilometers of forest; in the 1990s, up to 400 square kilometers were lost each year.
The video is available in time for Forest Day 5, being marked December 4 on the sidelines of the UN climate talks taking place in Durban, South Africa, through December 9. Forest Day 5 is hosted by FAO and the other 10 members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and the Government of South Africa and convened by the Center for International Forestry Research.
The Mongolia project, operating with funding from the Government of the Netherlands, is designed to involve Mongolians in protection of local forest areas. It has been operating with 15 pilot groups, but the pilot phase is about to end and the next step is to expand the program to the rest of Mongolia’s forested areas.
A new FAO report warns that widespread degradation and deepening scarcity of land and water resources have placed a number of key food production systems around the globe at risk, posing a profound challenge to the task of feeding a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050.
Learn more about FAO’s vision for the sustainable intensification of agricultural production in Save and Grow: A New Paradigm for Agriculture released earlier this year.
The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) released its Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011 report last week. While the report offers positive assessments of the decrease in deforestation and forest degradation similar to those in a recent report published in collaboration with FAO, it cautions that other factors driving deforestation may threaten this trend in the future. ITTO argues that economics are ultimately at the root of the issue, and that forest preservation is simply not as lucrative as capitalizing on the agricultural, timber and other products available.
Assessing forest management in 33 tropical countries, the report suggests the need for more sustainable forest management, devoting attention to improved land tenure rights, community forest management, climate change mitigation tools like REDD+, and sustainable certifications.
Read the BBC article
Read the TIME blog post