Editorial Feature

International Day of Forests: The Important Developments Helping to Safeguard Our Forests

Forests are crucial to the world's ecology, offering various advantages, including oxygen production, carbon dioxide capture, and biodiversity preservation. The UN established the International Day of Forests on March 21st to increase public awareness of the value of forests and the need for their protection. This article examines the importance of the International Day of Forests, the world’s forests’ issues, and recent scientific findings and technological advancements to aid their preservation.

international day of forests

Forests and their Importance

Forests are a fundamental part of the earth's ecosystem. They are critical for biodiversity at any location, and the factors that affect the forests either negatively or positively directly impact the area’s human, animal, and plant life.

International Day of Forests

In 2012, the UN General assembly marked March 21st as the International Day of Forests.

The day aims to spread awareness and educate people about forests’ importance, benefits, and the drastic effects of deforestation.

Governments are urged to make local, national, and worldwide efforts to arrange activities involving forests and trees, such as tree-planting programs.

Earth's Carbon Sink

forests, carbon sink

Image Credit: Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com

Forests absorb carbon from the environment and store it in wood, plant matter, and under the soil, which otherwise would remain in the air as carbon dioxide (CO2).

As a result, forests act as carbon sinks by removing almost two billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere. This slows down climate change by significantly reducing the CO2 build-up rate in the atmosphere.

Biodiversity and Forests

Forests serve a crucial role in conserving biodiversity by providing a home for many plant and animal species and helping regulate the temperature, manage floods, prevent soil erosion, and supply food, medicine, and other necessities for human life.

Recent Forest Technologies and Studies

Importance of old forests

A study published in 2022 focused on the role of old forests in the ecosystem.

The study published in Environmental Chemistry Letters found that ancient forests successfully fix nitrogen, store carbon, and provide microclimates that reduce global warming and offer many endangered species with habitats that cannot be replaced.

The research also covers the biological benefits of ancient forests, such as how they produce phytochemicals with various therapeutic characteristics and host specific fungi with unrealized medical potential, such the Agarikon, Fomitopsis officinalis, which is effective against COVID-19.

Novel algorithm for forest landscapes restoration (FLR) technology

Research published Inventions in December 2021 aimed to provide forest farmers with mathematically sound choices for technological operations and technical tools for forest restoration.

This research emphasized how crucial it is to pinpoint the problems with the current forest landscapes restoration (FLR) technology and the need to create a single technical FLR algorithm.

The researchers validated the FLR algorithm using the Ward cluster analysis and intra-group connectivity techniques. This FLR algorithm assists in modernizing plant propagation protocols for reforestation quality control and planning new forest experiments considering multidisciplinary interaction.

Forest genomics

A recent study in 2022 summarized the development and present state of 12 research fields in forest genomics and offered future research priorities and objectives for each field.

According to this research, forest genomics can significantly improve forest production and climate change adaptation. For instance, in recent years, forest genomics has advanced rapidly due to the multiple high-throughput sequencing technologies, spatial transcriptomes, CRISPR-mediated genome editing, single-cell RNA-sequence, and bioinformatics analysis technologies that have produced spatiotemporal, multilayered, and multidimensional gene expression data.

Use of drone and satellite imagery

Several technologies have monitored and protected the world's forests. For example, using satellite imagery to monitor forest cover and track deforestation and forest degradation provides real-time information on forest loss and helps identify areas requiring urgent attention.

Similarly, drones have been used for forest monitoring in hard-to-reach areas. Drones provide high-resolution images and data on forest health and help identify areas at risk of forest fires or other threats.

Another recent interest among the scientific community is using artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and manage forests, to analyze satellite imagery to predict the risk of forest fires and other threats and to develop early warning systems.

The Future of Earth's Forests

The future of our forests depends on our ability to manage them sustainably through a coordinated effort from governments, civil society, and the private sector to address the threats facing the world's forests.

One key approach is to promote sustainable forest management, which aims to balance forests' economic, social, and environmental benefits by promoting responsible logging practices, protecting forests from illegal activities, and involving local communities in forest management decisions.

Promoting reforestation and afforestation can also help restore degraded ecosystems, provide carbon sequestration, and promote biodiversity conservation. Most important of all is raising awareness in people about the role of forests for health, the environment, the ecosystem, and biodiversity. Efforts, such as celebrating the International Day of Forests, can help us spread this awareness in our societies.

References and Further Reading

Borthakur, D., Busov, V., Cao, X. H., Du, Q., Gailing, O., Isik, F., ... & Wei, H. (2022). Current status and trends in forest genomics. Forestry Research. https://www.maxapress.com/article/doi/10.48130/FR-2022-0011?viewType=HTML

Gilhen-Baker, M., Roviello, V., Beresford-Kroeger, D., & Roviello, G. N. (2022). Old growth forests and large old trees as critical organisms connecting ecosystems and human health. A review. Environmental Chemistry Letters. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10311-021-01372-y

International Day of Forests. United Nations. Retrieved March 19th, 2023, from https://www.un.org/en/observances/forests-and-trees-day

Land - the planet's Carbon Sink. United Nations. Retrieved March 19th, 2023, from https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/climate-issues/land

Novikova, T. P. (2022) The choice of a set of operations for forest landscape restoration technology. Inventions. https://www.mdpi.com/2411-5134/7/1/1

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Taha Khan

Written by

Taha Khan

Taha graduated from HITEC University Taxila with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. During his studies, he worked on several research projects related to Mechanics of Materials, Machine Design, Heat and Mass Transfer, and Robotics. After graduating, Taha worked as a Research Executive for 2 years at an IT company (Immentia). He has also worked as a freelance content creator at Lancerhop. In the meantime, Taha did his NEBOSH IGC certification and expanded his career opportunities.  

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