Forest Restoration Provides Path to Pandemic Recovery, Greener Future – UN Official
New York – Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should lead to stronger action to safeguard the world’s forests, a senior UN official said on Friday, highlighting how these natural resources have helped to protect health and well-being during the global crisis.
Green spaces, parks and forests have been vital during these times of social distancing, and healthy, well-managed forests also act as natural buffers against zoonoses, thus warding against the risk of future pandemics,” Liu Zhenmin, head of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) said during a virtual event to commemorate the International Day of Forests, observed annually on March 21.
“Yet, despite their obvious importance, forests continue to be under threat,” he stated, noting that “every year, seven million hectares of natural forests are converted to other land uses such as large-scale commercial agriculture, and other economic activities.”
While the rate of deforestation has slowed over the past decade, the tree-cover loss has continued unabated in the tropics – largely due to human and natural causes,” the UN official deplored.
The UN believes sustainable management of forests is critical to combating climate change and to ensuring a better future for all.
The theme for this year’s International Day – “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” – also aligns with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, from 2021-2030.
“If we fail to act now, we risk a point of no return,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in his message for the Day, though noting it is not too late to act.
“The crises our planet faces require urgent action by all – governments, international and civil society organizations, the private sector, local authorities and individuals,” Guterres observed.
According to the UN chief, “Indigenous peoples are leading the way. They care for the Earth’s biodiversity and achieve conservation results with very few financial resources and little support.”