Action Card - March 2023
Forests for Human Health and Well-Being
The theme for 2023 is "Forests and health."
But how far do we appreciate the links between forests and our well-being?

Too precious to lose
When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to them. Forests have an important role for food security and nutrition, with nutrition and health being intrinsically connected. Forests are key to combating climate change, preserving diverse species, protecting water sources and, The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. It celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts therefore, giving more security to future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet despite all these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an
alarming rate. Every day, more and more forests are lost to logging, mining, and clearcutting for large agribusiness. More
than half of Earth's original rainforests have already been lost. Rainforests that once grew over 14% of the
land on Earth now cover about 6%. In the UK, woodlands range from temperate forests to orchards and old
hunting grounds but they too are under threat from development, imported pests and diseases, the impacts of
the climate crisis and pollution. Centuries-old and wildlife-rich ancient forests now cover only 2.5% of the UK.

Globally, 1.6 billion people (nearly 25% of the world’s population) directly rely on forests. We must keep more
forest landscapes intact, manage them more sustainably, and restore more of those landscapes
which we have lost.

Deforestation in Brazil surged under President Jair Bolsonaro, who was ousted late last year. The new
president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has promised to reverse the deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.

In Indonesia, a 2021 report titled, "Planned Deforestation Forest Policy in Papua," by the Indonesian
Monitoring Coalition deplored huge deforestation in Indonesia’s easternmost region.  Fr John Djonga, an
activist priest in Papua, said efforts to protect natural forests were efforts to protect the future of indigenous

Significant international action last December was seen at the annual UN Biodiversity Conference, held in
Canada. The nations of the world adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a global
agreement to protect and restore at least 30% of Earth’s land and water by 2030.
The Initiative believes the time has come for a worldwide movement for the care of tropical forests, one that is
grounded in their inherent value, and inspired by the values, ethics, and moral guidance of indigenous peoples
and faith communities.

Some Possible Actions

· Organise or join events celebrating forests: tree plantings, symposiums, art exhibitions, photo competitions or host
a student debate.
· Join the conversation on social media using the #IntlForestDay hashtag. Pass on some of this year's key
messages or take a photo of your favourite area of woodland and share it.

Did you know?
· Forests are home to about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, with more than 60,000 tree species.
· The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year - about the size of Iceland 
Among resources developed in recent years to promote the protection of forests is ‘A Catholic Toolkit
on Forest Protection’, produced by the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative.
This action card was prepared by Ellen Teague of the Columbans