Forests are an integral part of global sustainable development. According to World Bank estimates, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods with some 300 million living in them. The forest product industry is a source of economic growth and employment, with global forest products traded internationally is estimated at $327 billion.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that every year 130,000 km² of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation. Conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements are the most common reasons for this loss of forested areas.
According to the World Bank, deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. FAO data estimates that the world's forests and forest soil store more than one trillion tons of carbon – twice the amount found in the atmosphere. The World Bank estimates that forests provide habitats to about two-thirds of all species on earth, and that deforestation of closed tropical rainforests could account for biodiversity loss of as many as 100 species a day.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, “Across the globe lie more than a billion hectares of lost and degraded forest land that could be restored”.
The Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests is the focal point for implementation of the International Year in collaboration with Governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organizations and processes.
Governments, regional and international organizations and civil society organizations are expected to create national committees and designate focal points in their respective countries to facilitate organization of activities in support of the International Year of Forests.
The “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.” campaign is the official U.S. celebration. Coordinated by the National Association of State Foresters in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. celebration aims to elevate awareness and understanding of the value of America’s forests and showcase the connections between healthy forests, people, ecosystems and economies. The goal is to provide all forestry stakeholders with ideas and resources to participate in the celebration over the year.
To celebrate year 2011 as 'International Year Of forest' has been decided by the United Nations in December, 2006.