A great resource for those wanting to learn more and do more for our forests. The booklet is issued by the Convention on Biological Diversity in preparation for 22 May International Day for Biological Diversity.
Why are forests important?
from the booklet:
- Forests are more biologically diverse than any other land-based ecosystem. Conserving and sustainably using our forests protects more than two-thirds of all land-based animal and plant species.
- Biodiversity underpins the health and vitality of forests and is the basis for a wide range of ecosystem services necessary for people’s livelihoods and well-being.
- Rich forest biological resources, used wisly, can generate invaluable economic, social and cultural benefits. Destroying this natural treasure has far-reaching consequences for people, particularly for the many poor people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
- Forests are disappearing partly because they are undervalued, and our market economy fails to recognize ecosystem services provided by intact forests. To stop losing this planet’s living treasure, we must understand and appreciate its full range of values, as well as its importance for human well-being and development.
- Forest biodiversity can be successfully conserved and sustainably used where there is sufficient political will. People are taking action at local, national and regional levels to save forest biodiversity around the globe. Exchanging experiences and success stories is important to keep momentum for these efforts.
- Biodiversity of degraded forests can often be successfully restored if the factors that lead to forest degradation can be effectively controlled. Restored forest landscapes provide food, water, shelter and many other essential ecosystem services.
- People throughout theworld can directly influence the fate of forest biodiversity through their individual choices. Consumers have a responsibility for sustainable behaviour and for limiting their ecological footprint.
The brochure has more details with key facts about forests, highlights of some of the most "Mega-diverse" forests. There's also details about approaches to valuing forest biodiversity and treating forests as the Earth’s “natural capital” and “Insurance” against climate change.
There's also more about how forests support people’s livelihoods, about forest genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. More about sustainable use of forests: linking people and forests including community forest management, traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use.
Also highlighted are threats and challenges including deforestation and forest degradation, impacts of climate change, over-exploitation and the bushmeat crisis, invasive alien species.
There is still hope for forest biodiversity, with some stories of inspiration, action, celebration. In our part of the world, there's stories about "Local action for forest biodiversity in Cambodia" and "Heart of Borneo Forests: three countries join efforts for one
The booklet ends with "What each of us can do"
- Learn. Learn about the species, forests and other ecosystems in your surroundings, and learn about the connections between the health and vitality of your natural environment, and your own.
- Be aware. Our consumption patterns can drive deforestation. Avoid “carbon intensive” food (products requiring a lot of resources and energy for their production and/or transport) such as beef, and products that often have a direct negative impact on forest biodiversity, such as palm oil.
- Act. Once you have a better understanding of local biodiversity issues, it is time to take action. One fun activity and at the same time a very useful one is planting a tree. Planting a local tree species, in an area where it would naturally occur.
- Share. Share your experiences with your family, friends and community members. Encourage them to work with you in helping protect biodiversity. This could be as part of a school project, with your class, neighbourhood, community, club or local group. Consider supporting and joining local nongovernmental organizations that work on biodiversity issues.
In Singapore, learn more about our forests through these many wonderful forest activities in February and beyond.
Download the Forest Diversity IDB 2011 booklet (pdf)