Written by Safira Tafani Cholisi, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia
Every day we go about our lives in a set routine. We live and sleep in our house, take a meal three times a day, drink at least 2 liters of water, and perhaps read a book or use our laptop to study and work. However, it might rarely cross our mind that those daily activities are related to forests. In fact, sometimes we can completely forget that our wooden made chairs and tables come from the trees or that the water we drink is stored and captured by the forest roots. Forests play a crucial role in our lives and yet we are often oblivious to that fact and fail in protecting and conserving our nature and its resources.
It is reported that forests provide for the livelihoods and subsistence needs of approximately 1.6 billion people, some of which are indigenous communities (International Day of Forests 21 March, 2021). Not only a vital source of life for human beings, forests and tree covers also house a great variety of animals, plants, and insects. Some countries depend greatly on forests and their resources for collecting raw food materials and livestock as well as gathering wood necessary for economic activities. Of course, Indonesia is also a country that highly depends on forests.
Indonesia is known to be one of the countries with the largest landscape of tropical rainforests, spanning 98 million hectares or approximately half the size of the country’s territory (Indonesian Rainforests, 2021). These forests are home to a rich biodiversity of endangered species protected by the World Wildlife Fund. Despite this significance, Indonesian forests are annually losing their tree covers at an alarming speed. Studies believe that Indonesia loses a million hectares of its forest every year (Valuing the ecosystem of the Indonesian rainforest, 2021), while Global Forest Watch reports that Indonesia faced a 17% decrease in tree cover since 2000. This decrease is calculated to have increased 10.9Gt unabsorbed CO2 emissions (Tree Cover Loss in Indonesia, 2021). Accelerated deforestation and illegal logging are highly interlinked with increasing disaster risks such as landslides and floods. Indubitably, this poses a serious threat to the ecosystems, economic activities, and health of Indonesians, particularly those living in disaster-prone areas.
Recognizing the imminent need to conserve nature and protect forests across the world, the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 March as the International Day of Forests (International Day of Forests, 2021). To raise awareness of the importance of forests and their preservation, individuals, and organizations around the world are encouraged to participate in conservation and preservation activities and efforts, including tree-planting campaigns and sustainability movements. The celebration this year adopts the theme of “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” in order to remind us that forests are inherently linked to our daily lives and provide the resources for our subsistence and living. Thus, by restoring forest conditions, we are also contributing to ensuring our own well-being.
Can you participate in this celebration? Definitely! There are many ways in which you can contribute to raising awareness about the environmental threats faced by our forests and to protect their existence. You can join a nearby tree-planting campaign organized by local communities and obtain seeds to plant. Reducing personal consumption of unsustainable materials made from forest resources, including paper and wood-based products is also a form of a concrete contribution. And if you’re not tight on cash, you can donate to programs and organizations working towards forest conservation and environmental sustainability. All of these deeds are just some of the ways in which you can do good, and we believe that you can always do good no matter how little your participation is!
Rainforest Action Network. 2021. Indonesian Rainforests. [online] Available at: <https://www.ran.org/indonesian-rainforests/> [Accessed 15 March 2021].
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2021. International Day of Forests. [online] Available at: <http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/en/> [Accessed 15 March 2021].
United Nations. 2021. International Day of Forests 21 March. [online] Available at: <https://www.un.org/en/observances/forests-and-trees-day> [Accessed 15 March 2021].
GreenFacts. 2021. Valuing the ecosystem of the Indonesian rainforest. [online] Available at: <https://www.greenfacts.org/en/indonesian-forests/l-2/index.htm#:~:text=In%202013%2C%20the%20total%20forest,the%20national%20and%20global%20level.> [Accessed 15 March 2021].