ON March 21 this year, the globe will be commemorating World Forest Day. This is one of the world's leading global platforms for people with an interest in forests and climate change, to share their views and work together, to ensure forests are suitably incorporated into any future climate change mitigation and adaption strategies.
Available data have it that each year more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost. As go the forests so goes the plant and animal species they embrace - 80 per cent of all terrestrial biodiversity. Most importantly, forests play a crucial role in climate change including global warming.
Deforestation causes 12-18 per cent of the world's carbon emissions - almost equal to all the carbon dioxide from the global transport sector. Equally crucial, healthy forests are one of the world's primary 'carbon sinks.' Ecologists believe that it is not too late to reverse this destructive trend if the world acts now.
Forests still cover more than 30 per cent of all the world's land and contain more than 60,000 tree species, many still undiscovered. The forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion of the world's poorest people by providing food, fibre, water and medicines, as well as regulating environments.
Those supported include indigenous peoples with unique and precious cultures. The inaugural Forest Day was one of the major events at United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in Bali, Indonesia on December 7, 2007.
More than 800 people participated in that Forest Day, including scientists, members of national delegations, and representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. A major feature of Forest Day was four parallel panel discussions focusing on crosscutting themes related to forests and climate change.
To save forests, alternative energy is needed to reduce extensively the use of firewood for cooking and other domestic uses. A research done recently by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in some districts has revealed that successful use of the constructed 13,301 improved biomass stoves (6,651 household each with two stoves) in Tanzania can reduce firewood consumption from 39,906 cubic m through using unimproved stove to 19,952 cubic m.