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International Day of Forests: Preservation and Growth

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It’s March 21st and so we are celebrating the 4th International Day of Forests. This date was declared important by the UN back in 2012, and aims to raise awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting the forests and woodland around the world, its further growth and the dangers they are facing too, such us deforestation.

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Why do our forests present us with such an important challenge? Because our future depends on their sustainability and preservation. Covering over 30% of the Earth’s surface, forests are a key source of breathable air. They feed, protect and shelter us. They support millions of species, in addition to helping to keep the planet’s temperature down.

We cannot emphasize enough the connection between our forests- and their preservation- and the successful fight against climate change and global warning. It can all be summed up in three words; conserve, enhance and sustain. Let’s take a more detailed look at how it is being achieved.

” International Day of Forests looks to preserve, improve and increase in size so that we can live in a more sustainable world.

The UN Secretary General declared a year ago that, “Forests provide one of the most cost-effective and efficient natural carbon capture and storage systems. Reducing deforestation and forest degradation lowers greenhouse gas emissions and increases carbon sequestration. Conserving and enhancing healthy forests also helps adapt to climate change and strengthens climate resilience of communities.”

Here is some good news:

  • According to estimates we are witnessing a slowdown in deforestation rates globally. This, in turn, means that the total carbon emissions from forests have decreased by as much as 25 percent between 2001 and 2015, mainly due to global deforestation decreasing.
  • Related to this, we find that an exciting change is underway: an ever increasing proactive focus on enhancing rather than merely destroying less woodland and forest. And by enhancing, we mean increasing the area of world forests, something that has been pushed to the fore by the UN Strategic Plan for Forests and climaxing earlier this year in 2017, when 197 member states at the UN Forum of the Forests agreed to increase the global area of forests by 3% by the year 2030.

In the words of Maniel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, “the UN Strategic Plan for Forests builds on the vision of the 2030 Agenda and recognizes that real change requires decisive, collective action, within and beyond the UN System.” He added that the Plan envisions a world where forests are “sustainably managed, contribute to sustainable development and provide economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits for present and future generations.  .

The goal has been set and challenge has been accepted by hundreds of countries. What does 3% actually amount to? Some 120 million hectares or an area the size of South Africa! So to celebrate March 21st, International Day of Forests, let’s mention a few original and innovative ideas that are being implemented around the world.

(i) Vertical Forests, such as the impressive Bosco Verticale  pictured here in Milan. Although, the ability of these urban-building-mini-forests to noticeably reduce the impact of CO2 on a city is still much disputed, it is only logical to conclude that the more plants there are that can trap carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and absorb pollutants in an urban area (or even on a building itself), the better.

(ii) The flower tower in France, where the design and façade of a large apartment block in Paris is a “vertical continuation of an adjacent park.”

” Contemporary architecture is focusing more on vertical green systems and greener designs helping to restore the environment in cities and urban areas.

These are just two examples of how contemporary architecture is focusing more on vertical green systems and greener designs and thus helping to restore the environment in cities and urban areas. The word Greenscaping has even been coined defines how trees, plants and flowers are starting to cover roofs and walls, therefore disguising and hiding uglier concrete places and structures. Some cities, such as Sydney Australia, have accepted and included green walls in their urban planning.

We welcome the era of the Bio-wall- a living green wall, vertical forests and greenscaped bridges and other buildings. Alex Levine, a writer who specializes in sustainable design cannot understand why a city developer “gets to occupy 200 square feet of space to park a car, when you can grow $1400 worth of food in that much space. Perhaps we wouldn’t need to think about vertical forests if we properly used the horizontal space on the roofs and in the street.”

So regardless of where you live, be it urban areas or rural ones where woodland is plentiful- spare a thought for the International Day of Forests and remember that without preserving, increasing and properly caring for them our planet’s future is going to be a short one.

Andrew Dow.  Abengoa Communication Department

Andrew Dow. Abengoa Communication Department

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