Learn to love forests! Helping build a sustainable future through forest education

20 March 2019, Yokohama, Japan

Educating children on the many roles of forests was part of an ITTO project in Mexico that assessed the environmental services provided by coastal tropical forests. Photo: G. Sánchez-Vigil

Understanding forests and keeping them healthy is crucial for our future. It’s so important, in fact, that “Forests and Education” is the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests on 21 March. ITTO is marking the day by showing how diverse forest stakeholders are learning about forests and their roles in meeting human needs and the Sustainable Development Goals.
This video features Mme Traoré Pepa, President of the Women’s Federation of Dimbroko in Côte d’Ivoire and a beneficiary on an ITTO project that promoted forest restoration among rural women. She and others like her have obtained skills in nursery establishment and maintenance, reforestation and agroforestry, enabling them to provide for their families and improve their villages. Mme Pepa says, “We plan to train women in other villages, because many women have not yet understood that, when growing food crops, we can also do reforestation. So we will explain to these women and then organize them so they can participate as well”.
Raising awareness of the value of tropical forests at all levels creates connections with forests. It’s especially important that people living in urban areas understand how forest products and ecosystem services benefit us in our daily lives by providing, for example, clean air, fresh water, foods and medicines, green spaces for peaceful contemplation and recreation, biodiversity conservation, and materials for building and general living. This video shows the beauty of tropical forests in the Betung Kerihun National Park, which lies on the border between Indonesia and Malaysia in Borneo and is home to at least 48 mammal species, including orangutan, 1200 plant species and 112 fish species. Long-running ITTO projects in the area have helped local people improve their livelihoods and led to better outcomes for biodiversity conservation. We hope it inspires urban dwellers, too.
In Indonesia, an ITTO project helped educate communities on the benefits of the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources, including non-timber forest products such as bamboo. This video of the “1000 bamboo villages” concept—an output of an ITTO project—is building regional capacity for the sustainable use of bamboo and the restoration of degraded lands suitable for bamboo production. A thriving bamboo industry based on sustainably managed resources will produce raw materials for companies making garments, pulp and paper, and flooring while improving the livelihoods of local communities.
Building human resource capacity and strengthening professional expertise in tropical forestry is essential for improving the management and use of tropical forests. ITTO promotes human resource development through its Fellowship Programme, as exemplified by the research conducted by ITTO Fellow Mr Roy Gonzalez from Colombia, who shows in this video how his research is helping to understand the capacity of dry tropical forests to adapt to climate change. In this video, ITTO Fellow Ms Thais A. Lima explains her field research on the mapping of selective logging as a way of assisting forest law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon.
Forest learning has countless important fronts, such as taking advantage of the latest technology for forest planning and timber tracking; making more efficient use of non-timber forest products; understanding how to increase investments in sustainable forestry; and promoting gender equality and empowering women who live in forest landscapes.
With the planet facing many ecological uncertainties in coming years and the global population projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, the goods and environmental services provided by healthy, sustainably managed forests will only become more important. Learn to love forests!
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