By Tacy Lambiase

Here at American Forests, we celebrate the beauty and benefits of our Earth’s forests every day of the year. But thanks to the United Nations General Assembly, there is now an official holiday dedicated to trees around the globe.

A view of the forests around El Bolsón, Argentina
A view of the forests around El Bolsón, Argentina. Credit: Juan Manuel

On December 21, 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring March 21 as the International Day of Forests and the Tree. According to the UN, “The International Day of Forests and the Tree is held annually on 21 March to raise awareness of sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. … The resolution encourages all Member States to organize activities relating to all types of forests, and trees outside forests, such as tree-planting campaigns.”

The UN Forum on Forests, an intergovernmental policy forum tasked with implementing this day of observance, produced a short film about the impact that forests have on the well-being of our planet and the lives of humans and animals:

As you may already know, American Forests doesn’t just support tree planting initiatives in the United States — some of our Global Releaf projects are focused on restoring international forests.

  • American Forests has worked with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project in Mexico to restore the winter home of migrating monarch butterflies. In 2012 alone, 100,000 trees were planted to stabilize degraded soil, provide forest cover and create a buffer between the monarchs’ habitat and human development.
  • Black-and-white colobus monkey in Kenya
    Black-and-white colobus monkey in Kenya. Credit: Sum_of_Marc/Flickr

    Although the highlands in Kenya used to be covered in trees, deforestation has wiped out 99.9 percent of the region’s native forests. In 2012, American Forests teamed up with Plants for Life International (PLI), a non-governmental organization that works out of Brackenhurst Botanic Garden in Kenya, to reforest part of this area. This project involved planting 15,000 trees of almost 300 different species, which will hopefully have positive long-term effects on the region. Native tree species can stabilize the soil, improve the water flow in the region and allow for the reintroduction of native animals and bird species to the forest, including the colobus monkey.

  • In 2013, American Forests Global ReLeaf is conducting five international projects. Our projects in Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Panama are helping those countries restore lost forest cover, while improving the economies of local communities, improving habitat for endangered wildlife or stabilizing needed waterways.

From everyone at American Forests, Happy International Day of Forests and the Tree!