This year, 2011, has been declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations General Assembly in order to celebrate the sustainable management, conservation, and development of forests. A number of events have been planned throughout the year including many commissions, a variety of days dedicated to aspects of nature such as mountains, water, birds, food, etc., and others.
Although forests are some of the world’s most important ecosystems because they stabilize weather systems, keep climate change-causing carbon out of the atmosphere, and house a large portion of the earth's biodiversity, they tend to become part of the background in people's minds.
According to the World Bank, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, but every year 130,000 km² of the world's forests are lost due to conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements. This deforestation causes up to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Forests also provide habitats to two-thirds of all species on earth, and the deforestation of tropical rainforests could account for the loss of as many as 100 species a day.
This year, every person can raise awareness and become closer with nature by learning more about the forests of the earth, joining a campaign, and communing in nature. Websites such as www.thepetitionsite.com connects people with news on a variety of current issues and helps them to get involved, and www.backpacker.com has a number of resources for people that wish to connect with the beauty on Earth that has been laid before us to discover.