Forests have been an integral part of the fabric of Earth and human society since the beginning of time, a fact that often goes unnoticed in daily life.
According to the United Nations (UN), sustainable forest management and the use of resources are key to combating climate change and contribute to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in alleviating poverty. Yet, despite ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.
The UN’s Assembly has proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests and continues to advocate for the preservation of a precious resource fundamental to the foundation of life, calling on countries, cities and local communities across the globe to engage with their forests.
The current generation of students and advocates investigating climate change justice and forests are one of the most central tenets of managing climate change and its
Forests: essential to living
The UN has conducted research into the feasibility of wood being a renewable resource. It has been proven successful but only if humans take the right steps to manage the forests.
In Canada, the correct form of management could be inspired by local Indigenous peoples where more than 70 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada live in or near forests. Kitasoo/Xai’xais Stewardship Authority, the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation (RCF) have found evidence of trees that were modified by Indigenous peoples known as culturally modified trees (CMT). These modifications allowed Indigenous peoples to extract materials from the tree without needing to cut it down. These practices allowed the trees to heal naturally over time. This type of practice shows the wealth of knowledge to be obtained from
Forests have been a place of recreation for many Canadians such as hiking and camping. These types of activities allow them to express their love for nature and to interact with their country. However, the spirituality connected with forests is an important topic to understand in relation to reconciliation. Indigenous peoples have been stewards of Canada’s land mass, including the forests since time immemorial. The Indigenous peoples used the forests in their cultural traditions, hunting and as sanctuaries. As a result, Indigenous peoples have a great respect for the forests as they recognize their importance.
Canadians are privileged to live in a country where there is abundance of trees as they provide key benefits which increase quality of life and have economic and spiritual impacts on the population. Forests interact with many different organisms such as animals, other plants and humans. Humans rely on the forest for essential services such as preventing flooding and filtering pollutants. The recent flooding in Abbotsford made everyone aware of the consequences of manmade devastation upon the natural ecosystems. To prevent future catastrophes of this scale, good forest management will play an important role. Without its urban forests, Vancouver would be extremely polluted and hot as they also provide cooling effects.
A call to action
According to the UN, approximately 80 hectares of forests are being cut down every year to make room for palm oil plantations or to use the wood for products, as 1.6 billion people depend on forests as their source of livelihood and shelter, but, with the massive decrease in forests, these people will become extremely vulnerable and risk being displaced.
Tree planting campaigns on a municipal, provincial and federal level will have a huge impact on the state of forests. These types of campaigns, if executed regularly will allow Canadian forests to recover from the decades of commercial deforestation.
Canadians can be thankful for the presence of the various species of trees that surround them and feel gratitude.
A multilingual online event hosted by the UN is slated for March 21, 2022. For more information please visit: www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/live-event/en