International Day of Forests

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2024 DateMarch 21, 2024
2025 DateMarch 21, 2025

International Day of Forests

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International Day of Forests History

International Day of Forests emphasizes global recognition of the importance of forests and their vital role in human livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Forests are pivotal components of our ecosystem, providing countless economic, social, and environmental benefits, and contributing significantly to biodiversity. Their significance extends from mitigating climate change and fostering water conservation, to preserving wildlife and reducing poverty.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests in 2012, setting the stage for annual observances globally. For Canadians, forests hold a special significance—Canada’s extensive forests cover over 9%, or 347 million hectares, of the Earth's total forest area. These forests work as “carbon sinks,” thereby playing a crucial role in combating climate change, offering important habitats for diverse species, and supporting many Indigenous and rural communities. Canadian forestry also contributes significantly to the national economy, providing jobs and boosting trade through log, lumber, and pulp exports.

In Canada, International Day of Forests is commemorated through a variety of events and initiatives, focusing on increasing public awareness about the importance of forests. Activities range from educational programs and forest tours, to community tree planting and cleaning initiatives. Canadian residents are encouraged to participate in these events and contribute towards forest sustainability. This day offers an opportunity to reflect on the importance of forests to our lives and our duty to protect and preserve them. International Day of Forests takes place annually on March 21.

Facts about International Day of Forests

  • The theme for International Day of Forests in 2024 was Forests and innovation: New solutions for a better world. In 2023 the theme was Forests and health.
  • According to the World Bank, forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible fresh water. This water is made available for domestic, agricultural, industrial, and ecological use.
  • According to the UN, approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood.
  • Canadian forests are also critical in the fight against climate change. They absorb around 2.6 billion tons of CO2 each year, functioning as a kind of carbon 'sink' and helping to offset Canada's emissions.
  • Canadian forests are home to more than 230 species of birds, contributing to rich bird biodiversity.

Top things to do in Canada for International Day of Forests

  • Watch the 2020 International Day of Forest's virtual program if you missed it.
  • Share your favorite photo of a forest or plant with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN by emailing it to The UN will add it to a combined gallery of everyone’s pictures around the world!
  • Visit National Parks: Canada is renowned for its vast forests and well-kept national parks. Places like Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offer various activities from guided tours, hiking, bird-watching, and observing wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • Read a book to learn more about Forests in Canada:
    The Global Forest: Forty Ways Trees Can Save Us - by Diana Beresford-Kroeger
    Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest - by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

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