TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Today, the International Day of Forest is being commemorated in the midst of the COVID 19 global pandemic in Indonesia and across the world.
Human health has never seemed more important as people look to build back better and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Healthy forests also contribute to human health. Forests provide health benefits for everyone, such as fresh air, nutritious foods, clean water, and space for recreation. In developed countries, up to 25 percent of all medicinal drugs are plant-based; in developing countries, the contribution is as high as 80 percent.
Forest also provide healthy diets. "Adat" communities, or indigenous communities, typically consume large amounts of food harvested in forests.
“Forest destruction is unhealthy for the environment and for people – as well as increasing carbon emissions and reducing biodiversity we should remember that nearly a third of emerging infectious disease are linked to land-use change such as deforestation." said Richard Trenchard, FAO-Representative ad interim for Indonesia.
The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest a year – more than half the size of Sulawesi – and land degradation affects almost 2 billion hectares, an area larger than South America. Forest loss and degradation emit large quantities of climate-warming gases, and it is estimated that more than eight percent of forest plants and five percent of forest animals are at “extremely high risk” of extinction.
The Indonesian government released recent data showing that last year’s deforestation rate was the lowest in five years. In 2019, MOEF has rehabilitated around 400,000 hectares of forests and during the pandemic, MoEF plans on increasing number of seedlings that will be planted in 2021.
Welcoming the Government’s efforts, Trenchard added “The progress is really good news for all of us. The restoration and sustainable management of forests will help address the climate-change and biodiversity crises simultaneously while producing goods and services needed for sustainable development."
Forests provide more than 86 million jobs worldwide and support the livelihoods of many more people. The 2020 State of Indonesia’s Forests report, prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, reports that more than 400,000 people are directly employed in timber and non-timber forest production each year in Indonesia. Wood from well-managed forests supports diverse industries, from paper to the construction of tall buildings. Investment in forest restoration will help economies recover from the pandemic by creating even more employment.
EVERY TREE COUNTS
Small-scale planting and restoration projects can have big impacts, and not just in rural areas. City greening creates cleaner air and more beautiful spaces and has huge benefits for the mental and physical health of urban dwellers.
Investing in ecosystem restoration will help to restore the health of people, communities and the environment. It offers the prospect of putting trees and forests back into degraded forest landscapes at a massive scale, thereby increasing ecological resilience and productivity.
“We can recover from our planet’s health, environmental and economic crises. Forests can help defeat poverty and hunger and reduce inequality. Let’s restore our forests, build back better and achieve the future we all want.“ Trenchard added.