Belize: On March 21, Belize joined the world in commemorating the International Day of Forests. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 as International Day of Forests with the objective to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests.
This year’s theme, “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”, is linked with the United Nations declaration of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
It is also linked to a local and global response to restore the functionality of our ecosystems to benefit food production and security, soil restoration, water security, human well-being and resiliency, climate regulation and economic stability.
Forests provide health benefits such as fresh air, clean water, and spaces for recreation. In the developed nation, up to 25% of all medicinal drugs are plant-based; in developing countries, the contribution is as high as 80%.
Belize has invested significantly in protecting its natural capital and boasts 61.75% of forest cover with a 1% deforestation rate. In addition, protected natural areas contribute over 20% to Belize’s GDP.
Local communities have a direct link to forests for traditional medicine, cultural and spiritual practices and serve as stewards of forest resources.
Hon. Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, along with the Forest Department, is commemorating the day by reiterating its commitment to towns and cities to continue creating urban green spaces.
Through the donation of seedlings, the councils will plant trees to beautify and improve aesthetics in urban spaces. On the International Day of Forests, the public is reminded that every day is an opportunity to undertake reforestation activities to increase ecological resilience and productivity. They believe that “Forest restoration is a key nature-based solution to rebuild and achieve a future that benefits everyone. Every tree counts.”