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UN designates 2011 as International Year of Forests

Healthy forests, ecosystems, people and economies …

Sustainable forestry practices to be highlighted as part of international event.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.

“The International Year of Forests provides an excellent platform to increase awareness of the connections between healthy forests, ecosystems, people and economies,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It is also an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, reach out to new audiences, and work with partners across all landscapes.”

The U.N. launched the year of forests earlier this month  with a forum on forests in New York City. The program included high-level roundtable discussions, media activities, film screenings, the issuance of the U.N. commemorative stamp series and other side events. During the official U.N. launch, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell participated in Forests for People roundtable. Read the text of the U.N. proclamation here.

Trees and forests provide a wealth of social, economic, environmental, aesthetic, cultural and health benefits. Because of forests, millions of Americans have access to clean drinking water, an abundance of recreational opportunities, cleaner air, and countless jobs. Urban trees and forests also make important contributions by enhancing neighborhood livability, increasing home prices, and reducing household energy use and the effects of climate change. In short, trees and forests improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas alike.

This year-long, world-wide celebration will raise awareness and inspire actions to sustainably manage and conserve the world’s trees and forests. The U.N. objectives are to: reverse the loss of forest cover, enhance economic, social and environmental benefits, increase the area of sustainably managed forests and to mobilize increased financial resources.

Within the United States, including its eight territories and the District of Columbia, the official campaign will be celebrated on national, regional and local levels. Using the tagline “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.” the celebration will increase awareness and understanding of the value of America’s forests. The connection of forests to health will be communicated through four major themes: clean air and water, ecosystem health, economic health and community and personal health.

The Forest Service will incorporate the International Year of Forests theme into many of the Forest Service’s annual public events such as Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day, and other appropriate community gatherings during 2011.

The National Association of State Foresters will launch an interactive website in early March to house all U.S.-based information, including a master events calendar, event host toolkit, and news on the campaign. Activities in the United States will include a series of events throughout the year and across the nation.

Project Learning Tree®, the American Forest Foundation’s environmental education program has worked with teachers and students to compile a Forest Exchange Box to show the unique characteristics of their state forests. Six of these boxes are now on display at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and all 50 boxes will be on display in Washington D.C. in March.

For more information on the International Year of Forests 2011, please visit:
UN – www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011
U.S. Forest Service – www.fs.fed.us
NASF – stateforesters.org/issues/issues_and_policy/2011-year-of-forests
NASF/FS Site – www.celebrateforests.com
AFF-www.forestfoundation.org/international_year_of_forests.html

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