The importance of Forests on human health & wellbeing

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International Day of Forests is held annually on March 21st to increase and raise awareness on the importance of their existence in our lives.  This day was established by the United Nations in 2012 and has since been observed by countries around the world.  International Day of Forests is an opportunity to recognise and promote their sustainable management and conservation for future generations.

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations “Forests for human health and wellbeing” details the important benefits forests provide.  They are more than just a collection of trees, they purify water, capture carbon and provide food and life-saving medicines.  Below we detail 10 benefits healthy forests can provide for human life and communities:

  1. Biodiversity: Forests are home to a wide range of plant and animal species, many of which are native only to the UK and cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.  Forests are essential in maintaining biodiversity and preserving the ecological balance of our planet.
  2. Carbon storage: Forests are the world’s largest carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps mitigate climate change and global warming.
  3. Watershed protection: Forests play a crucial role in protecting watersheds, which are the sources of water for many communities around the world.  Trees help to slow down water runoff and filter pollutants, improving water quality and availability.
  4. Soil conservation: Forests help to prevent soil erosion by holding the soil in place with their roots, preventing nutrient loss and preserving soil fertility.
  5. Timber and non-timber products: Forests are an important source of timber and non timber products, such as fruits, nuts, and medicinal plants, which provide economic benefits to local communities.
  6. Recreation and tourism: Forests provide recreational opportunities, such as hiking, camping, and wildlife watching, which contribute to the tourism industry and provide economic benefits to local communities.
  7. Climate & Temperature regulation: Forests help to regulate local and regional climates by providing shade and cooling effects, reducing the impacts of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves.
  8. Cultural and spiritual values: Forests hold significant cultural and spiritual value for many communities around the world, serving as sacred sites, burial grounds, and places of cultural significance.
  9. Research and education: Forests provide a valuable platform for scientific research and education, allowing us to better understand the complex ecological processes that occur in natural ecosystems.
  10. Habitat restoration: Forests can be used to restore degraded or destroyed ecosystems, providing new habitats for wildlife and helping to maintain ecosystem services such as water and air purification.

Research by Botanic Gardens Conservation International released in 2021 compiled a list of 58,497 tree species worldwide and found that 30% were threatened with extinction and at least 142 species are recorded as extinct already.  The recommendations from the research link directly with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to end poverty, conserve biodiversity and combat climate change whilst improving the livelihoods for everyone, everywhere.

Overall, the health enhancing qualities of forests are a result of multiple and mutually reinforcing benefits, and the role of forests in sustaining and promoting human health varies among continents and regions.  

Whether directly or indirectly, forests contribute to the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of individuals and communities, highlighting the importance of maintaining and protecting these vital ecosystems.

Value Match seeks to mitigate climate change across how we operate.  We maintain our annual carbon reduction plan which is crucial for tackling climate change and ensuring we continue to have a positive impact on the environment and society.  A carbon reduction plan outlines a set of measures to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable practices.

So how can Procurement help?

Procurement teams and stakeholders should be aware of the importance of the protection and planting of trees as part of their supplier carbon reduction plans and community projects.  Having a carbon reduction plan demonstrates the suppliers commitment to reducing their carbon emissions,

If you are interested in developing a carbon reduction plan you will first need to start by  calculating your carbon emissions (feel free to use our free carbon calculator) and offset emissions through tree planting projects both within the UK and abroad..

You can also encourage your organisation to switch to using a more sustainable search engine such as Ecosia.  This search engine rivals Google but instead uses the revenue generated from your searches to plant trees, and keeps a total for you.  Combined across an organisation this can have a fantastic impact!