The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Sunday outlined some of the benefits the world can derive from planting and protection of urban trees.
The UN body released the information in commemoration of the 2021 International Day of Forest.
Since 2012, the United Nations has designated March 21 as the International Day of Forests.
In a series of tweets posted on the official Twitter page of the FAO on Sunday, the UN body said planting of urban trees could increase urban biodiversity, filter urban pollutants and even reduce carbon emissions.
FAO in a 59-seconds video explained that the strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by between 2°C and 8°C, and that large urban trees are excellent filters for urban pollutants and fine particulates.
The UN body said trees planted in urban centres could absorb up to 150kg of Carbon (IV) Oxides (CO2) per year, sequester carbon and consequently mitigate climate change.
“Trees provide a habitat to plants and animals, increasing urban diversity.Spending time near trees improves physical and mental health by increasing energy levels, while decreasing blood pressure and stress,” the FAO video said.
The organisation noted that while landscaping with trees can increase property value by 20 per cent, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that this figure is expected to reach nearly 75 per cent by the year 2050.
“Planting trees today can make cities cleaner, safer and a nicer place to live,” FAO said.
In a virtual ceremony to mark the day, FAO director general, QU Dongyu, described forest restoration as a path to global recovery and well-being.
“Healthy forests mean healthy people. Forests provide us with fresh air, nutritious foods, clean water and space for recreation, and also for civilization to continue,” Mr Dongyu said.
He explained that more than 1 billion people depend on forest foods and that 2.4 billion people use fuelwood or charcoal to cook their daily meals. He said Forests are also green pharmacies and that in developing countries, up to 80 percent of all medicinal drugs are plant-based.
“Yet, despite their importance, the area of forests continues to shrink. FAO’s most recent Global Forest Resources Assessment states that each year, the world loses more than 10 million hectares of forest – an area about twice the size of Costa Rica,” he said.
“We can change this. We have the knowledge and the tools.”
The FAO official explained that restoring forests and managing them more sustainably is a cost-effective option to provide multiple benefits for both people and the planet, and that investments in forest restoration will contribute to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by creating green jobs, generating livelihoods, greening cities, and increasing food security.
In separate tweets, Antonio Guterres, UN secretary general, noted that: “We continue losing forests at an alarming rate – 10 million hectares every year.”
“But it is not too late to undo some of the damage we have caused. This #IntlForestDay let’s commit to restore and conserve our forests for the benefit of people and the planet,” he tweeted on Sunday.
According to the UN, five things individuals can do to ensure forest sustainability include planting or adoption of a tree; visit to local park or forest, as well as conservation of water and energy.
Others are reduction of carbon footprint and choosing of local and eco-friendly products.
Across the world, the International Day of Forests is often marked with events such as tree planting ceremonies, symposiums and discussions, art exhibitions and photo competitions.
Last year, officials of the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and other groups took tree planting campaigns to schools and streets of Abuja, urging young Nigerian students to ensure environmental sustainability through planting of trees and creation of gardens where necessary within the ecosystem.
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