Calendar of World Environmental Events 2011 and UN International Year of Forests
by Bhavani Prakash
This is our first blogpost for 2011. We wish our readers a very happy and green New Year! We would also like to thank our team of Guest Writers for their wonderful contributions last year and look forward to new perspectives in the coming months.
Here is a list of key environmental and human rights events for 2011. The dates are found on several sites so we thought of compiling and sharing them with you. Some are well known, and some came as a surprise to us as well. We do believe, no matter who or where you are, everyday is a day of celebration. Every day is a day for our dear planet Earth – for us to respect, conserve and manage her precious resources in a sustainable way. Everyday is a day for peace and compassion.
If we’ve missed out any important dates below, do let us know and we’ll be happy to add them in.
- January 1 : New Year’s Day, Global Family Day for peace and sharing
- February 2 : World Wetlands Day
- March 8 : International Women’s Day
- March 14 : International Day of Action Against Dams and For Rivers, Water and Life
- March 21 : World Forestry Day
- March 22 : World Water Day
- March 23 : World Meteorological Day
- March 26 : Earth Hour
- April 4 : International Day for Mine Awareness and Asssistance in Mine Action
- April 22 : Earth Day
- April 29 : Arbor Day ( Different nations have different tree planting days )
- August 9 : International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
- August 12 : World Youth Day
- August 19 : World Humanitarian Day
- August 28 : World Kitchen Garden Day
- August 29 : International Day Against Nuclear Tests
- September TBA: International Coastal Cleanup Day
- September 8 : International Literacy Day
- September 21 : International Day of Peace
- September 22 : World Car-Free Day
- September 26 : World Heart Day
- October : TBA International Day of Climate Action by 350.org
- First Week of October: Junk Mail Awareness Week
- October : Non GMO Month (View Last Year’s event)
- October 1 : World Vegetarian Day
- October 2 : International Day of Non-Violence
- October 3 : World Habitat Day
- October 4 : World Animal Day
- October 15 : International Day of Rural Women
- October 16 : World Food Day
- October 28 : World Paper Free Day
- 28 November to 9 December 2011 : COP17 Climate Change Talks in Durban, South Africa
- December 10 : Human Rights Day and International Animal Rights Day
- December 11 : International Mountain Day (for Indigenous peoples)
- Meat Free Days are a campaign to encourage a meat free diet one day a week, usually Mondays or Wednesdays. The purpose is to reduce human induced climate change, improve animal welfare and human health. Singapore’s green groups have launched a Veggie Thursday campaign.
The Year 2011 has been declared as the UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FORESTS to raise awareness about the precarious state of the world’s forests, and ways to preserve and manage them sustainably. The UN estimates that 350 sq kms of forests are lost every day. Pressures come from clearing for agricultural uses, such as palm oil, soybean, for livestock, timber and urban settlement. Here is the accompanying video:
- Forests cover 30 percent of the planet’s total land area. The total forested area in 2005 was just under 4 billion hectares, at least one third less than before the dawn of agriculture, some 10,000 years ago.
- The ten most forest-rich countries, which account for two-thirds of the total forested area, are the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States, China, Australia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Peru and India.
- Six million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions. More than one-third of all forests are primary forests, defined as forests where there are no clearly visible indications of human activity and where ecological processes are not significantly disturbed.
- Primary forests shelter diverse animal and plant species, and culturally diverse indigenous people, with deep connections to their habitat.
- Only 20 per cent of the world’s forests remain in large intact areas. These forests consist of tropical rain forests, mangrove, coastal and swamp forests. Monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions.
- Trees quite literally form the foundations of many natural systems. They help to conserve soil and water, control avalanches, prevent desertification, protect coastal areas and stabilize sand dunes.
- Forests are the most important repositories of terrestrial biological biodiversity, housing up to 90 per cent of known terrestrial species.
- Forest animals have a vital role in forest ecology such as pollination, seed dispersal and germination.
- Trees absorb carbon dioxide and are vital carbon sinks.
- It is estimated that the world’s forests store 283 Gigatonnes of carbon in their biomass alone, and that carbon stored in forest biomass, deadwood, litter and soil together is roughly 50 per cent more than the carbon in the atmosphere.
- Carbon in forest biomass decreased in Africa, Asia and South America in the period 1990–2005. For the world as a whole, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased annually by 1.1 Gigatonne of carbon (equivalent to 4 billion 25kg sacks of charcoal).
- The loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.
- World population currently stands at 6.5 billion people. It is projected to grow to 9 billion by 2042. The expansion of agricultural and industrial needs, population growth, poverty, landlessness and consumer demand are the major driving forces behind deforestation.
- Most deforestation is due to conversion of forests to agricultural land. Global removals of wood for timber and fuel amounted to 3.1 billion cubic metres in 2005.
- Worldwide, deforestation continues at an alarming rate, about 13 million hectares per year, an area the size of Greece or Nicaragua.
- Africa and South America have the largest net loss of forests. In Africa it is estimated that nearly half of the forest loss was due to removal of wood fuel.
- Forests in Europe are expanding. Asia, which had a net loss in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forests in the past five years, primarily due to large-scale forestation in China.
- Eighty per cent of the world’s forests are publicly owned, but private ownership is on the rise, especially in North and Central America and in Oceania.
- About 11 per cent of the world’s forests are designated for the conservation of biological diversity. These areas are mainly, but not exclusively, in protected areas.
- Around 10 million people are employed in conventional forest management and conservation. Formal employment in forestry declined by about 10 per cent from 1990 to 2000.
Environmental facts on forests reprinted from SealTheDeal2009.org
Some links have been sourced from UN’s Calendar of Events
Photo Source: Antzfxway.com
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