Bringing the World’s Forests Into Focus: 2011 International Year of Forests
In an effort to raise awareness on the sustainable development and management of forests, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests.
“The world’s forests are essential to life on this planet, and home to the majority of the earth’s biodiversity,” said Mara Kerry, Nature Canada’s director of conservation. “Since Canada is home to 10% of the world’s forests – forests cover half the Canadian landscape – Canadians have a key role to play in the global effort to conserve and sustainably manage forests.”
As the “lungs of the earth”, forests absorb carbon dioxide, reducing the effects of climate change. Among other things, forests provide wildlife with a place to live, reduce sedimentation and regulate flooding, and help people reduce their energy consumption by shading buildings and screening winds.
To celebrate International Year of Forests, conservation groups, including Nature Canada, will promote dialogue on forests and engage people in forest activities scheduled to take place in nations across the globe. We’ll be following all things related to International Year of Forests on Twitter and Facebook, and providing interesting forest facts and forest ecosystem profiles on our Nature Canada blog and enewsletter throughout the year.
Nature Canada is already involved in conserving and restoring forest ecosystems in Canada, particularly in the Boreal Forest. At 1.3 billion acres, the Canadian Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems remaining on earth.
Nature Canada supports the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, an alliance of conservation groups, First Nations, and leading Canadian companies whose aim is to protect 50% of the region and support sustainable practices in local communities.
To that end, Nature Canada worked with First Nations and governments at all three levels to establish the Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, which was announced in February 2010.
Nature Canada continues to participate in discussions about the final park boundaries to ensure that wildlife is protected.
As the boreal forest extends as far north as the Northwest Territories, so have Nature Canada’s conservation efforts. We are working to protect the Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area by advocating for the reinstatement of interim protection for Edéhzhíe's subsurface lands. You can join our campaign to protect this globally significant stopover point for Tundra Swan and Greater White-fronted Goose.
Beyond our national boundaries, Nature Canada has extended its reach to include a project in Haiti that provides an incentive – free education for elementary-school-aged children – for communities in the Macaya National Park to adopt sustainable forest management practices. In this way, the school offered hope for 300 girls and boys while providing incentives to relieve pressure on important habitat for Canadian migratory birds like the Bicknell’s Thrush.
For its part, the UN is providing a series of communications initiatives and materials, which include a website, logo, film and art competitions, exhibits and promotional multimedia projects. Its goal, among others, is to “Promote observance of the Year not as an isolated event but as part of a continuing process of advocacy and partnership to foster greater awareness and action towards sustainable forest management at all levels.”