Focus on forests for World Environment Day

3rd June 2011


05 06 2011crop2

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Biodiversity

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IEMA

Organisations and individuals are being encouraged to consider the importance of the world's forests and the ecosystems services they provide for World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June.

Themed “Forests: Nature at Your Service”, this year’s WED events are dedicated to highlighting the environmental, economic and social benefits provided by the world’s forests and the ongoing challenge to protect them.

To mark the day, the UN Environment Programme is publishing a new report, Forests in a green economy, which argues that greater investment from both the public sphere and private business is needed to reduce the 5.2 million hectares of deforestation that is occurring each year.

However, in a report into the state of European forests released ahead of the WED, UNEP also warns of the threats posed by the fragmentation of forests through privatisation of forest management.

While UNEP confirms that forest areas in Europe are growing by around 7,000 hectares a year, in some areas felling, fires and the conversion of forest to agricultural land is creating isolated ecosystems less able to support life and provide vital services such as fresh water and nutrient rich soil.

The European Forest Institute, for example, estimates that without the forest management necessary for combating desertification, 80 million people living in the Mediterranean region may have access to less than 500m3 of water each year by 2025.

UNEP is working with European Commission scientists to pin-point where increased tree planting can assist in restoring green corridors reconnecting the region’s fragmented forests.

WED also falls just days after the first UK National Ecosystems Assessment (NEA) was published and the just before the government finally unveils its Natural Environment White Paper (7 June). The NEA confirms that the country’s decision makers have consistently undervalued ecosystems services over the last six decades.

The report also estimated the health benefits provided by the natural environment in the UK could be worth up to £300 per person each year.

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