Forests offer an amazing assortment of benefits for humans and animals. For humans, forests are a source of livelihood, food, medicinal herbs; forests give us wood that can be used for shelter, furniture and fuel; and they are places of recreation. They also play a huge role in maintaining the planet’s environmental health. Our planet’s forests are the lungs that clean the air we breathe, the homes of countless species of plants and animals, the source of inspiration and livelihood for millions of people. Forests help to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitats for millions of animal and plant species, and offer protection against floods. In coastal areas, mangrove forests can greatly reduce damage caused by hurricanes and tsunamis. Globally, forests make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation, in their role as carbon sinks.
Unfortunately, forests are under threat in many parts of the world, and are being degraded or destroyed at alarming rates. This is due to many reasons, ranging from profit-seeking by large companies to individual actions driven by poverty. Climate change is expected to worsen these threats and to change ecosystem dynamics within forests. There is a lot you can do to help forests! Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai famously said: “when we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and the seeds of hope”. If, in planting trees, we sow peace and hope, just imagine what we can achieve if young people from around the world take part in this one simple act!
Read the document to find out about activities that can help you to better understand the many roles of forests. Every step made to help forests counts! Let’s act to ensure a future for our forests and for ourselves.
This booklet was developed by YUNGA (Youth & United Nations Global Alliance http://yunga-youth.weebly.com) and is intended as a guide for teachers and youth leaders.