4 Reasons to Observe International Day of Forests

The United Nations (UN) declared March 21 as International Day of Forests. Here are four reasons why forests are important for our economy, our planet, and society at large.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – forests cover 31% of the planet’s land surface, store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon, and are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Forests provide the world with roughly 40% of the current global clean energy supply, more than solar, hydroelectric or wind power. The forest products industry’s innovative use of renewable bioenergy contributes to carbon neutrality, promotes efficient use of renewable resources and allows the industry to utilize a sustainable energy source to produce essential forest products.

Sustainably managed forests play a key role in meeting several UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provide solutions to help entire economies in transitioning towards a greener model. Forests help mitigate our changing climate and improve soil, air and water quality, and are a source of renewable raw materials, making a crucial contribution to circular economies.

Forests provide products people depend on and can be proud of – knowing that they are sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and most importantly, are making a difference in tackling our changing climate. The forest products industry manufactures critical goods that are used in virtually every household every single day. Forest products promote health, safety and hygiene, facilitate learning and communication, provide shelter, and provide packaging for a wide range of products, among countless other uses.

As an international body representing the global forest products sector, the International Council of Forests and Paper Associations (ICFPA) recognizes the UN FAO’s eight reasons why forests are important for our economy, our planet, and society at large. We want to highlight four:

  • The global forest sector supports jobs for at least 33 million people, and forest products are used by billions every single day in the form of housing, packaging, pencils, tissue products, books and even nanocellulosic products, to name a few.

It is estimated that more than half the world’s economic production (gross domestic product) depends on ecosystem services, including those provided by forests. More than half the total world population is estimated to use non-timber forest products to support their well-being and livelihoods. These include eco-tourism, bee-keeping and harvesting of fruits and nuts, resins, and essences. Paper-based hygiene products – such as face masks – have also proven to be essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others such as green textiles and batteries using wood-based carbon will be essential to our post-pandemic future.

  • Forests are essential for planetary health and human well-being.

Forests cover nearly one-third of the Earth’s land surface and provide people with goods such as timber, fuel, food and fodder, help combat a changing climate, protect biodiversity, soils, rivers, reservoirs, and serve as areas where people can get close to nature. Inversely, through sustainable forest management, humans can also support forests in adapting to our changing climate by managing the vulnerabilities linked to droughts, fires, insect outbreaks, diseases, erosion, and other disturbances.

  • The sustainable management of forests and use of harvested wood products will help us move to an economy based on renewable, reusable and recyclable materials.

Wood can be used for diverse purposes, with lower environmental impacts than many alternative materials. Wood can be reused and paper can be recycled, thereby extending its life and further reducing its material footprint, while keeping carbon locked up.

  • Expanding the use of forest products contributes to carbon neutrality.

Science and innovation are producing exciting new products from wood and trees, including textiles, foods, construction materials, cosmetics, biochemicals, bioplastics and medicines. Replacing less-sustainable materials with renewable wood and tree-based products can reduce the carbon footprint.

See more reasons why forests are important here. And don’t forget to celebrate International Day of Forests on March 21.


The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests: https://www.fao.org/forests/en/


The ICFPA serves as a forum of global dialogue, coordination, and co-operation of 18 pulp, paper, wood, and fibre-based associations across 28 countries around the world.