Hug a Tree on International Day of Forests
International Day of Forests is observed every year on March 21st. First established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, this day helps raise awareness about the importance of forests and sustainable forest management. If you’re big into the Vanlife community like we are, then you already know how important the forest is to us. We live in and rely on nature, knowing that the forests clean our air, regulate the climate, and support biodiversity. Additionally, forests are an inspiration for Vanlifers as we often seek out natural spaces to explore and connect with the outdoors.
The forest plays a vital role in the earth’s ecosystem, and its worldwide preservation is essential for the survival of humans and other species. Forests cover around 30% of the world’s terrestrial area and are home to more than 80% of the biodiversity on land. Forests provide the perfect habitat for countless species of plants and animals and are a source of livelihood for millions of people. Forests also play a critical role in regulating the earth’s climate since they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
Despite how crucially important forests are to the survival of our species, forests are under threat from deforestation, degradation, and fragmentation. Deforestation occurs when trees are cut down for agricultural purposes, commercial logging, or urbanization. Degradation and fragmentation occur when forests are damaged by natural disasters or human activities such as mining and infrastructure.
The United States is full of beautiful forests, so if you’re hitting the road and want to honor the holiday, some of our favorite forest destinations include:
- Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia: miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, and the highest mountain in Georgia.
- Coconino National Forest in Arizona: includes the famous Sedona Red Rocks with stunning natural beauty.
- Columbia River Gorge in Oregon: has beautiful waterfalls like Multnomah Falls.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina: contains one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with 100+ species of native trees.
- Olympic National Forest in Washington: admire the old-growth rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and mountain views.
- Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina: many waterfalls, rivers, and trails throughout the lush Appalachian Mountains.
- Sequoia National Forest in California: everyone must see the giant sequoias at least once in their lifetime, including the world’s largest tree, General Sherman.
- Shawnee National Forest in Illinois: cool rock formations, scenic drives, and a must-visit to Garden of the Gods.
- Tongass National Forest in Alaska: if your travels take you north, you’ll find the largest national forest in the USA, with lush rainforests, fjords, and glaciers.
- White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire: a famous Appalachian Mountains forest known for its stunning fall foliage, although anytime is a beautiful time to visit.
The International Day of Forests provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of forests and the threats they face. It is also a day to celebrate the many benefits that forests provide, from clean air to recreational opportunities and spiritual awakening. On this day, individuals and organizations around the world are encouraged to take action to protect and restore forests.
Perhaps we could plant some trees, support sustainable forest management practices, or advocate for policies that promote forest conservation. All in all, International Day of Forests shouldn’t be celebrated once a year, as it is essential to raise awareness about the vital role forests play each and every day for the betterment of our beloved planet.