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Updated On: Thursday, July 20 2017
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Protecting the World's Forests

Content by: South-South News

3 May 2017, New York, USA | South-South News — The UN Forum on Forests is meeting this week at the United Nations, focusing on kick-starting the recently-adopted Global Forest Goals to protect, sustainably manage, and increase world’s forests.

“Let us make no mistake on this matter – the health of the world’s forests is fundamental to humanity’s place on this planet,” said General Assembly President Peter Thomson, emphasizing that forests were home to 80 per cent of the Earth’s land-based animal, plant and insect species.

Together, they regulate climate, prevent land degradation, reduce the risk of floods, landslides and avalanches, and protect people from droughts and dust storms. Forests also played a critical role in staving off the worst impacts of climate change, serving as the world’s second-largest storehouse of carbon, he said. Indeed, the world’s tropical forests alone retained a quarter trillion tons of carbon in biomass.

The six forest goals, all to be achieved by 2030, the deadline set by UN for the universal attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDSs). A key goal is expand the world’s forests by three per cent – an area of 120 million hectares, by 2030.

“If we are to succeed in the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the protection and sustainable management of our forests will be fundamental to the security of humanity’s place upon this planet,” Mr. Thomson said, adding that the Assembly’s decision to adopt the first-ever strategic plan was “a critical one.”

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Peter Besseau of Canada, Chair of the twelfth session of the Forum on Forests, said the landmark global action plan translated the aspirations of the International Arrangement on Forests into an actionable plan to guide the Forums’ work for the next 13 years. “The Global Forest Goals reflect the way the Forum is transforming its work to more effectively address the challenges facing forests and the lives of the people who depend on them.”

He urged all countries and stakeholders to tackle the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; balance economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability; and improve governance in order to integrate forest issues, as per the guidance from the Quadrennial Program of Work.

The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, told the Forum that “the new method of work of the Forum, provides an excellent opportunity for the body to address the links between forests and the SDGs, as well as capacity building, financing, technology development and transfer, governance, and science-policy interface, in a holistic and coherent manner.”

Forests presently cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s land area, or nearly four billion hectares. Sustainably managed forests are healthy, productive, resilient and renewable ecosystems, which provide vital goods and ecosystem services to people worldwide. An estimated 25 per cent of the global population depends on forests for their subsistence, livelihood, employment and income.

“To create a better, greener future, we need the right enabling environment - from governance systems that combat illegal deforestation, to policies that ensure equitable sharing of benefits from forests” stressed the Director of UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, Manoel Sobral Filho.

The UN forests plan provides a global framework for actions to sustainably manage all types of forests and trees outside forests and halt deforestation and forest degradation.

The goals cover a wide range of issues including increasing forest area and combating climate change, reducing poverty and increasing forest protected areas, mobilizing financing and inspiring innovation, promoting governance and enhancing cooperation across sectors and stakeholders.

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