February 2, 2011
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.
"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."
"Unlike other countries, most of America's forests are privately owned, with the greatest amount owned by small woodland owners. The Year of Forests can help highlight the vital role millions of Americans play in keeping America's forests healthy," said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation.
The U.N. launch of the international year will take place Feb. 2 and 3 at the ninth session of the U.N. Forum on Forests in New York City, in which many foreign dignitaries and ministers will participate. The program will include high-level roundtable discussions, media activities, film screenings, the issuance of the U.N. commemorative stamp series and other side events.
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.
Project Learning Tree®, the American Forest Foundation's environmental education program, has worked with teachers and students to compile a Forest Exchange Box from each state 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. "These boxes are truly inspiring. Leave it to kids to tell the story best about why we need to keep our forests healthy," added Martin.
AFF and its partners will incorporate the International Year of Forests theme into many annual public events such as Earth Day, Arbor Day, National Walk in the Woods Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day, Weeks Act 100thAnniversary Commemorations and other appropriate community gatherings throughout the year and across the nation.
The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) 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.
For more information on the International Year of Forests 2011, please visit:
- UN - www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011
- AFF - www.forestfoundation.org/international_year_of_forests.html
- U.S. Forest Service - www.fs.fed.us
- NASF – www.stateforesters.org/issues/issues_and_policy/2011-year-of-forests
- NASF/FS Site – www.celebrateforests.com