International Year of the Forest was officially launched earlier this month with the unveiling of the "State of the World's Forests" report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The good news is that the world's forest area could start expanding again in a few years as the speed at which which trees are being cut down is slowing from 8.3 million hectares a year in 1990-2000 to 5.2 million in the past decade. And China has launched a massive reforestation program boosting Asia's total and the forest area has grown in Europe and North America over the past decade.
The bad news is that trees are still being cut down at an "alarmingly high" rate, particularly in the Amazon and Africa. And in regenerating forests, many of the new trees will have only "junk" value in disposing of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.
How are Asia's forests doing?
Overall, Asia's forest area has increased from 90.5 million hectares in 2000 to 119.8 million in 2010.
"We can highlight the case of Vietnam, a small and densely populated country that's implemented very smart and comprehensive forest reform - or India, which has not controlled its population as China has and where standards of living are even lower.
"Nevertheless India has achieved a modest growth of its forest area, and the Philippines has turned things around as well - so we're seeing improvement across Asia except in the weakest states," said the FAO.
Which forests are the most threatened?
The Indo-Burma river and floodplain wetlands, the New Zealand forests, forests in the 17,000 equatorial islands of Borneo and Sumatra in southeast Asia, the Philippines tropical forest and the forest on Brazil's Atlantic coast are the most threatened.
Why is forest loss a bad thing?
"These forests have all lost 90 percent or more of their original habitat and each harbor at least 1,500 endemic plant species (plants that are not found anywhere else)," said the report. "If these forests are lost, those endemic species are also lost forever."
Full media articles on the launch of International Year of Forests on wildsingapore news.
How can I learn more about Singapore's forests?
There's lots of upcoming activities in February for you to experience and learn about our very own forests!
And remember, mangroves are forests too!!
Here's some highlights of upcoming forest and mangrove activities.
12 Feb (Sat): A Walk with Your Neighbours - The Macaques of Bukit Timah Learn more about our loveable Long-tailed macaques, the role they play in our forests, and our role in making sure they remain wild. The walks are conducted by Crystal who has been working with the Bukit Timah monkeys for the past year and a half. The walk is free but pre-registration is required.
12 Feb (Sat): Forest of Elders at Yishun Park
Dipterocarps are gianormous trees unique to Southeast Asia. In Singapore, we are replanting them! Join this nature walk to learn about the beautiful and important forest trees in the Dipterocarp Arboretum of Yishun Park. Find out how the fauna life exists together with these giants in the forest! $4 per person, pre-registration required.
12 Feb (Sat): Mangrove Forest Exhibition at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Learn more about mangrove forests, why mangroves are important to us, its many uses and benefits, and how mangroves can adapt to the daily tidal fluctuations. There will be guided walks, talks and fascinating live exhibits throughout the day. The events are free but entrances charges to the Reserve apply.
19 Feb (Sat): Rainforest walk at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is the largest surviving primary rainforest in Singapore. This monthly guided walk, held every third Saturday, is a fascinating journey of discovery to learn more about the natural wonders of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and why we should protect and conserve its complex ecosystem and diversity. The walk is free but pre-registration is required.
Specially for kids!
12 Feb (Sat): Free Chek Jawa boardwalk tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs The Naked Hermit Crabs introduce you to Chek Jawa's mangroves and coastal forest, as well as seashores without getting your feet wet. Even though we are not going on to the shore, there is still much to see and enjoy. There are monitor lizards, fiddler crabs, spiders, rare plants, wild boars, mudskippers. If we are lucky, we might even spot the Oriental Pied Hornbill, White-bellied Sea Eagle and the giant Atlas Moth. The walk is free but pre-registration is required.
19 Feb (Sat): "The Green Factory" with the Nature Keepers
Part of NPark's Nature Keeper Programme, kids will learn that forests are important to us as they are a source of food (such as figs) and material needs for mankind. Over the years, researchers have harvested ingredients for various medicines from research on plants found in the forests. Many of the items used in our everyday lives (such as timber furniture) also come from the forests. Suitable for children aged 7 to 12 years old. The event is free but pre-registration is required.
19 Feb (Sat): Kids’ Fun in the Forest with Nature Society (Singapore) Is the forest a dark and mysterious place to you? Get acquainted with its plants and animals in a two-hour nature walk along the Lornie Trail of MacRitchie Reservoir, led by veteran nature guide Goh Si Guim. $5 per child (member) or $10 per child (non-member), pre-registration is required.
20 Feb (Sun): Seashore Study at Pasir Ris Mangroves with Cicada Tree Eco Place Discover more about our precious, wild seashores! What is the importance of mangroves? Where are mangroves found? How do mangroves breathe and live in salt water? What kind of animals live in mangroves? What do fireflies eat? What can I do to help protect and conserve mangroves for future generations? $15 per child (with maximum of 2 adults accompanying each kid at no charge), pre-registration is required.
26 Feb (Sat): PrawnWatch at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Go on a journey back to the past, where the history of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as prawn and fish farms is one not to be ignored. The importance of mangroves as a spawning place and nursery for prawns and other life played an important role in shaping Sungei Buloh today. The traditional method of prawn harvesting will be demonstrated and how the tidal influence play a part in this activity will be brought to life. The walk is free but entrance charges to the Reserve apply.
More nature activities in our forests and mangroves on the wildsingapore happenings blog.