Analysis of the report on the 2021 global forest goals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, GYAN PATHAK writes about how forests and the communities that depend on them have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and why not just responses to the pandemic, but also to global climate change and biodiversity crises, must be rooted in the forests of the world.

TThe HE COVID-19 pandemic exposes systematic vulnerabilities and inequalities in nearly every economy and society. It is more than just a health crisis, as it results in loss of life and livelihoods and, as a result, pushes more people into extreme poverty, inequality and food security.

In addition to this onslaught of a ferocious rise in infection, the world is battling unprecedented global crises on multiple fronts, from the growing impact of climate change at biodiversity crisis. For each of these complex challenges, forests and the people who depend on them are both a victim as well as an important part of the solution.

According to Global Forest Goals 2021 Report, global gross product fell about 4.3% in 2020 – the sharpest contraction in global production since the Great Depression. These findings show that the pandemic is a global development emergency, with devastating consequences for those already at risk of being left behind.

The Global Forest Goals 2021 Report is the first assessment of the state of the world on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030. Adopted four years ago, the Plan is a model for forests and people, expressed through six global forest goals and 26 targets. Outlining a vision for a future where all types of forests and trees are managed sustainably, the plan is integral to achieving the UN goals. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Why forests are important

A valued 1.6 billion people, or about 25% of the world’s population, depend on forests for their livelihoods, livelihoods, jobs and income. Of the extremely poor of rural areas, 40% live in forests and savannahs, and around 20% of the world’s population – especially women, children, landless farmers and other vulnerable segments of society – are turning to to forests to meet their food and income needs.

For centuries, forests have provided socio-economic safety nets for people and communities in times of crisis. The importance of forests to the well-being of people and the planet is clear. Some 1.6 billion people around the world depend directly on forests for their food, shelter, energy, medicine and income. They are home to 80% of all known terrestrial species, and they regulate our climate, absorbing a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Forests to bring clean air and fresh water, and help prevent desertification.

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, forests have been a safety rope for the millions of people who have turned to them for their most basic livelihood needs. they have provided us with essential health products – from masks to cleaning products and ethanol to disinfectants. Healthy and well-managed forests create a natural buffer against the transmission of zoonoses. Thus, forests have an essential role to play in building resilience and reducing the risk of future pandemics. Investing in forests is investing in our future.

How the pandemic has affected forests and those who depend on them

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the lifeline that forests have so often provided us with. Economic contractions, disruption to global and local commerce, and lockdown measures to contain the virus have affected nearly 2.7 billion workers, or about 81% of the global workforce. Forest-dependent populations are part of this population.

Economically, they have faced job losses, reduced incomes, reduced access to markets and information, and for many women and young people, a contraction in seasonal employment, according to the report. The report. Socially, many of these populations are already marginalized and vulnerable groups, those least able to access essential socio-economic safety nets, such as indigenous peoples. The report details the number of forest-dependent populations, especially those living in remote locations, who have had difficulty accessing health care or found that government assistance programs and basic services are disrupted.

The health and socio-economic results induced by the pandemic have increased the pressure on forests. To alleviate their growing vulnerability, many indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as return migrants and urban workers, have retreated deeper into the woods to seek food, fuel, shelter and protection from hazards. COVID-19, details the report. As more and more vulnerable people turn to forest products and forest resources as a coping mechanism, these ecosystems are starting to develop. show signs of stress. Several regions now find the stability and viability of their forestry sector in jeopardy.

How the pandemic is linked to global climate and biodiversity crises

The impact of the pandemic is exacerbated by the escalating impact of climate change and a biodiversity crisis – global emergencies with serious implications for forest ecosystems. Among his many discoveries, the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an independent intergovernmental body, pointed out that one million species were threatened with extinction and that 100 million hectares of tropical forest had been lost between 1980 and 2000.

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At the same time, climate change is put in danger the resilience of forest ecosystems and their ability to support ecosystem services around the world. Although forests offer nature-based solutions to overcome these concurrent global challenges, they have never been more at risk.

This means, according to the 2021 report, that a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as responses to climate and biodiversity crises, must be rooted in the world’s forests. The way forward must be forged through greater sustainability and a greener and more inclusive economy, of which healthy forest ecosystems and forest-dependent communities are an integral part.

The 2021 report explains that sustainably managed and resourced forests can boost employment, reduce the risk of natural disasters, and provide food security and social safety nets, for starters. They can also protect biodiversity and advance both climate mitigation and adaptation. Saving and restoring forests, advises the 2021 report, will help reduce the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks, thereby protecting global health. (IPA Service)

The article was originally published in The booklet.