Forests play a highly significant role on earth. For centuries, they are generating, preserving, and regulating many forms of life. Even for our daily activities, we are highly dependent upon forests and forest products. Whether it may be food, wood, medicine, paper, herbs, oil extracts or recreational activities, it has become an indistinguishable part of our life. It is a home for indigenous communities and several species of animals, plants, and insects.
They are also important to combat challenges like, water scarcity, soil erosion and climate change. It is true that even after so many centuries of our interaction with forests, a large proportion of the information about them and their constituents remains unexplored. Unfortunately, we are rapidly destructing this ultimate precious source of life and livelihood. To raise awareness about the significance of all forms of this gigantic entity, every year we celebrate International Forests Day on 21 March. The theme for this year's celebration will be 'Forests and Biodiversity'.
What is biodiversity?
The term 'Biodiversity' has been made up of two words - Bio and Diversity. The word 'bio' means life and 'Diversity' means variability, that together makes up the diversity of life forms in a given environment. It can be further classified at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. The health of any ecosystem depends upon the richness of its diversity at all levels.
Forests have always been a hub of biodiversity. A living world works on dependence and facilitation by one another, given that forests are the biggest promoter of this relationship. It holds huge economic value. This is the reason that activities like, poaching, deforestation, and commercial exploitation are prevalent here and threatening the existence of forest and its diversity. Thus, it is in the interest of all, that unauthorized activities should be halted and emphasis should be given more on the conservation and protection of biodiversity.
In 2012, UN General Assembly declared 21 March to be celebrated as International Day of Forests. This day urges governments to take actions at all levels for the conservation of their forests and promoting their involvement in our everyday life. We must celebrate this day by asking a question to ourselves that how far did we succeeded in our attempts to protect these resources?
Sustainable Development is the Solution
Humans always had a strong connection with the forests. It has always provided an answer to our needs. Our survival is directly linked to their existence. We must protect forests. This should be done at both the individual and governmental levels. The international community has taken adopted several instruments for the protection of forests.
In 2015, Sustainable Development Goals were formulated where goal 15 specifically talks about the conservation of forests, sustainable use of ecosystem, combating desertification, reversing land degradation and preventing loss of biodiversity. These measures questions our lifestyle that is based upon 'unregulated development'.
They provide us a reality check that our developmental strategies violating environmental ethics. Only a sustainable way of life can secure these forests. On this day let us pledge to change our habits and become more conscious of our actions. We must commit ourselves for the preservation and protection of forests. These are the gifts we received from our ancestors and it is our duty to pass them to our upcoming generations. Thus, a development followed by conservation strategies is the only way to restore the lost balance in our nature.