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Africa: UN Forum On Forests – 5 Things You Need to Know

The sustainable management of the world’s forests takes centre stage at the UN Forum on Forests, which opened on Monday at UN Headquarters in New York. Stakeholders from across the world, from Member States to civil society partners, will gather to discuss this critical planetary resource. Here are 5 key things you need to know:

1. Forests are essential to life on Earth

Forests cover 31 per cent of the Earth’s land area, contain over 80 per cent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, and store more carbon than the entire atmosphere.

“Forests are one of Earth’s most valuable ecosystems,” said Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General for UN Economic and Social Affairs, at the opening session of the Forum. “They also form a vital social and safety net from some communities that rely on forests for food and income.”

2. They support our well-being and livelihood

More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment, and income. Some two billion people, roughly one third of the world’s population – and two thirds of households in Africa – still depend on wood fuel for cooking and heating.

Woodlands play a critical role in tackling poverty, providing decent work, and promoting gender equality, all essential for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Lachezara Stoeva, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), told the Forum

3. Healthy forests support healthy people

Forests and trees provide clean air and water and sustain us regardless of where we live. Zoonotic diseases account for 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases, and they usually occur when natural landscapes, such as forests are cleared. Restoring forests and planting trees are an essential part of an integrated “one health” approach for people, species, and the planet.

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