How many trees have you seen since you woke up today? Did you wish any of them a happy National Tree Day? What about a happy National Forest Week? Dig you hug any of those trees??
Don’t worry if these questions take you by surprise, since 2011 is the debut year for Canada’s National Tree Day celebrations, spearheaded by the Tree Canada Foundation, which focus on the “great benefits that trees provide us – clean air, wildlife habitat, reducing energy demand and connecting with nature“. Nature Canada’s celebrations today include our Hug A Tree Photo Contest, which we’re asking all of our supporters to enter for their chance to win!
I started National Tree Day thinking about the innumerable ways that trees (and forests) benefit me and my family each day. For example, we have 16 species* of trees and woody shrubs in our small Ottawa yard, which offer us shade, improve our air quality and attract lots of birds and insects to our backyard. I also have several beautifully handcrafted pieces of wood furniture in my home. Those items represent a market for value-added forest products that can be a big incentive for ecologically and economically sustainable forest management, including things like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of forests. Plus, markets for non-timber forest products are growing in Canada and elsewhere, which makes me think of how much I love wild blueberries and cranberries! Not to mention Canada’s amazing forest protected areas!
I’ve also been thinking about how important trees and forests (such as the Boreal forest) are to many of the migrating birds we’re watching head south right now, as well as other wildlife that rely on forests seasonally and year-round. Just think of all the bird species that use trees for nesting, from Woodpecker species to Great Blue Herons!
And having spent time as a kid in ‘working forests’ with my then-silviculturist father, I can’t overlook the importance of trees and forests to many communities across this vast country. The Canadian Forest Service reports that the forest industry – in all of its forms – is the “largest non-urban employer in the country“.
In closing, there’s really not a better time to kick-off Canada’s National Tree Day celebrations than the 2011 United Nations International Year of Forests. Here are some quick facts about global forests from the UN’s International Year of Forests (IYF) website:
- Forests are home to 80% of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity
- Forests are central to the livelihoods of over 1.6 billion people worldwide
- Forests cover 31% of the Earth’s total land area
For more on what Nature Canada is doing for the IYF, check out our website and our interactive map of Canada’s forests. And don’t forget to enter our Hug A Tree Photo Contest for your chance to win!
Have a wonderful National Tree Day, and a thoughtful National Forest Week!
All photos by A. MacDonald
* No, not all of these are native species, but I’m working to increase the proportion that are native over time.