International Day of Forests – March 21 highlights the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, and food security.

Observed this year with the theme “Forest Restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”, the celebration promotes the valuable benefits of forests in terms of human health, food security, environmental and climatic condition, provision of green jobs, stakeholder engagement, and healing.

In Region VIII, the Department of Environment and Natural and Resources (DENR) promotes the importance of forests by improving the remaining unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestlands through the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP).

DENR VIII Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian Jr. disclosed that in 2020 alone, the DENR in partnership with local stakeholders produced a total of 2,612,189 planting materials and developed 4,021 hectares ENGP plantation. The ENGP also provided jobs to 69 Forest Extension Officers and more members of people’s organizations and local communities last year.

Director Parian also added that in order to encourage wider stakeholders’ engagement in forest restoration, the Department is now directly involving families as immediate beneficiaries and implementers of the Enhanced National Greening Program.

“Restoring our degraded forests is possible if we work hand in hand and contribute to greening efforts in any way we can”, RED Parian said.

“The advocacy of the International Day of Forests reminds us that every tree counts. Let us take part in this celebration and be reminded that our health and well-being depends so much on the condition of our forests. Healthy forests is a formidable shield against our changing climate and the threats that comes with it”, he stressed.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2012 proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests to celebrate and raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests. It encourages countries to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.