The International Year of Forests 2011 offers a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of the challenges facing many of the world's forests and the people who depend on them. Great success stories and valuable lessons on how to promote
sustainable forest management already exist. The Year provides a means to bring these voices together and build momentum towards greater public participation in forest activities around the world.
Forests cover one third of the earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in our battle against climate change. Forests feed our rivers and are essential to supplying the water for nearly 50% of our largest cities, including New York, Jakarta and Caracas. They help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms and floods.
Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.
Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate -- 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, equal to the size of Portugal.
But it's not too late to transform business as usual into a future where forests are at the heart of our sustainable development and green economies. An investment of US$30 billion fighting deforestation could provide a return of US$2.5 trillion in saved products and services. Furthermore, targeted investments in forestry could generate up to millions of jobs around the world. Already, many leaders are glimpsing the potential for renewable energy and nature-based assets, but for forest transformation to happen, forests need to become a universal political priority.
Japan Tsunami Appeal
The massive earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March have caused widespread destruction and suffering, relayed on television screens around the world.
More than 8,000 people have died in the disaster, thousands are injured and at least 12,000 are missing. Many people are living in evacuation centres as 14,000 homes have been destroyed and around 100,000 are damaged.
Our supporters have responded to this situation with huge generosity and solidarity in their donations to the Japan Tsunami Appeal. We are extremely grateful for and humbled by their support. Thank you to everyone who has given.
The Japanese Red Cross has been on the ground since the disaster began and has sent 230 response teams to provide first aid and emergency healthcare, as well as distributing relief items. The teams are made up of more than 1,200 staff, including doctors and nurses.
The costs of the relief effort, and of rebuilding the homes and lives of those affected, will be immense. Donations to the British Red Cross will be used towards helping the Japanese people recover from this devastating natural disaster over the coming months and years.
In the unlikely event that we receive more donations to the Japan Tsunami Appeal than the Japanese Red Cross and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement can reasonably and efficiently spend, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to humanitarian disasters both here in the UK and overseas.
JAPAN TSUNAMI 2011
March 11, 2011 BBC World News
The global community has rallied to show it is united in its commitment to a sustainable future, with hundreds of millions of people, in more than 5,000 cities, in 135 countries and territories across the globe taking part in Earth Hour 2011.
And it doesn’t stop when the lights come back on. This year, Earth Hour is asking people to take the next step and go beyond the hour, by committing to ongoing action for the planet.
So if you haven’t done so already, sign up to Earth Hour and come back regularly for the latest news, and some of the best stories from around the world of people who are taking Earth Hour beyond the hour.
This Earth Hour 2011: 8.30pm, Saturday 26 March, celebrate your action for the planet with the people of world, and add more to your Earth Hour.
From its inception as a single-city initiative -- Sydney, Australia - in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global symbol of hope and movement for change. Earth Hour 2010 created history as the world's largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in 128 countries across every continent coming together to celebrate an unambiguous commitment to the one thing that unites us all -- the planet.
Sign up to earthhour.org, switch off your lights for Earth Hour 2011, and share the positive actions you will sustain for earth beyond the hour.