Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities. For those of us who are working with the forest in different ways, the importance of healthy forests is obvious in many aspects. And therefore it is vital to manage our forests in a way that is sustainable. So give your colleague an extra pat on the back today and congratulate each other for a good and important job managing and tending the forests for present and future generations!
Forest, water and man
Forest cover one third of the world's land area, equivalent to 4 billion hectares, and is an important resource for 1.6 billion people living in and around forests. Two-thirds of the earth’s surface area is covered by water, but less than 1% of the planets water is available and usable for drinking. The forest's role in mitigating heavy flows and filter and clean water is crucial for three quarters of the world's population and many major cities such as New York, Tokyo and Barcelona gets much of its drinking water from protected forest land.
The forest creates many different ecosystem services and nearly two billion people get their incomes, food, wood, energy and medicines from the forest. For very poor people living in or adjacent to the forest, it is a particularly important resource and an important part of the family income. Over 750 million people also use wood to cook and clean their drinking water.
UN recognizes threats to the world's forests
With the International day of forests the UN also want to pay attention to the threats to the world's forests. Deforestation, depletion of biodiversity, desertification and an increasing need for forest products are some of the challenges we face.
Over the last 25 years, deforestation has meant that a forest area as big as South Africa has disappeared. The largest deforestation is currently taking place in the tropics, particularly in Africa and South America. It is gratifying, however, that the rate of forest loss has been halved since 1990.
The forests made Sweden what it is today
For Sweden, the forest has contributed greatly to making the country one of the world's most developed forest depending countries. Not only did the vikings build ships and shields from wood, but the whole economic development has been based on industrial use of forests. Therefore a forest law was introduced at a very early stage, making it mandatory to replant forest areas after fellings.
The forest covers two thirds of the land area in Sweden today and forest products account for 11 percent of total export revenues. Just under 100,000 people are employed in forestry and forest industry. Another 100 persons are involved in building and organizing the world’s largest forestry trade fair – Elmia Wood. See you there on 7-10 June 2017!