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Everyday, there are several holidays recognized around the globe, many of which aren’t very well-known. Have you ever heard of National Sandwich Day or Polar Bear Plunge Day? What about National Kite-Flying Day or World Cancer Day?

According to the National Today website, the month of March is full of holidays. 324 holidays to be exact, including International Day of Forests. Celebrated on March 21st, International Day of Forests is a day to learn more about the importance of forests and ways we can preserve and protect these natural treasures.

The History of International Day of Forests

In 1971, World Forestry Day began. In late 2012, that changed when the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21st as International Day of Forests to raise “awareness at all levels in order to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and trees outside forests for the benefit of current and future generations.” The year 2013 marked the first official International Day of Forests.

The 2022 Theme

When creating this day of awareness, the United Nations General Assembly wanted to recognize not just the rainforests we worry about disappearing or the temperate forests we are used to hiking and camping in. They wanted to draw attention to the trees and forests from which we benefit regardless of where they grow. Every year, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests sets a theme for International Day of Forests. In 2022, the theme is “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

The Need For Forests

Our planet needs forests. They play a key role in the world’s economic activity and environmental health. Forests provide:

  • a protection against natural disasters, such as flooding and landslides
  • a home to a wide variety of animals and insects
  • a work opportunity to support the livelihood of men, women, and children
  • a world with purified air to breathe
  • an environment to grow timber in order to create lumber and wood products
  • a social and cultural place for recreation and education
  • a space where excess carbon is removed from the atmosphere
  • a buffer against the increasing threat of climate change
  • a location to grow food and medicinal plants

Forest Coverage in the United States

International Day of Forests raises awareness about the need to conserve, replant, and manage forests across the globe. The United States is a leader in forest stewardship. The State of America’s Forests report released in 2017 by the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities states that the amount of forestland in the United States has stabilized over the past century and remained near an average of 755 million acres, which equals about 8% of the planet’s total forest area.

This statistic is encouraging as our nation’s forests:

  • Assist with the removal of harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  • Filter silt and other pollutants from fresh water supplies to millions of Americans
  • Serve as a source for timber and 1400 other commercial products

States with the Highest and Lowest Percentage Amount of Forestland

Certain regions of the United States are filled with forestland more than others. Based on 2017 statistics presented by The State of America’s Forests, Maine is the state with the highest percentage of forestland with 89.1%. New Hampshire comes in next with 83%, followed by West Virginia at 78.5%, Vermont at 76.5%, and Alabama at 71.4%.

As for the states with the lowest percentage of forestland, North Dakota is ranked the lowest at 1.8%, with Nebraska closely behind at 3.1%, South Dakota at 4%, Kansas at 4.8%, and Iowa at 8.1%.

States with the Highest and Lowest Acreage Amount of Forestland

Percentages are just one way to compare forestland coverage across the United States. States are also measured by their actual acreage of forestland. Calculations reported in 2017 by The State of America’s Forests show Alaska with the most forestland area at 128.74 million acres. Next in line is Texas at 40.97 million acres, then California at 31.52 million acres, Oregon at 29.65 million acres, and Montana at 25.52 million acres.

Delaware is the state with the least amount of forestland area sitting at 0.36 million acres, while Rhode Island has 0.37 million acres, North Dakota has 0.79 million acres, Hawaii has 1.47 million acres, and Nebraska has 1.53 million acres.

Supporting International Day of Forests

International Day of Forests is all about increasing awareness. You can support this important cause by:

  • Sharing information via social media
  • Conserving trees in your area
  • Planting new trees
  • Practicing fire safety to prevent forest fires
  • Supporting forest conservation organizations

Forests are a critical component of our global economy. The organization One Tree Planted, more than 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods.

You can make a difference in the lives of your friends, family, and future generations by spreading the word about International Day of Forests.