International Year of Forests - 2011

The year 2011 was declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable forest management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

Forests are an integral part of global sustainable development. According to World Bank estimates, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. The forest product industry is a source of economic growth and employment, with global forest products traded internationally in the order of $270 billion.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that every year 130,000 km² of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation. Conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements are the most common reasons for this loss of forested areas.

According to the World Bank, deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. FAO data estimates that the world's forests and forest soil store more than one trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount found in the atmosphere.

The World Bank estimates that forests provide habitats to about two-thirds of all species on earth, and that deforestation of closed tropical rainforests could account for biodiversity loss of as many as 100 species a day.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, “Across the globe lie more than a billion hectares of lost and degraded forest land that could be restored”.