The FAO has established March 21 as the International Day of Forests, with this year's thematic focus on Forests and Sustainable Cities.
Of course, being 20% of Winnipeg's major urban green space, at FortWhyte Alive we love any excuse to talk about forests. But why do urban forests matter to you?
Here are just a few reasons:
- Forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people. Forests also protect watersheds and prevent flooding as they store water in their branches and soil.
- Well-managed forests and trees in and around cities provide habitats, food and protection for many plants and animals, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity.
- Urban green spaces, including forests, encourage active and healthy lifestyles, improve mental health, prevent disease and provide a place for people to socialize.
- Forest and trees store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in, and around, urban areas.
Now that we know the importance of urban forests, what's the next step? Of course, we absolutely need to take action to protect urban forests while encouraging investment in new urban green spaces.
But first, let's simply celebrate our urban forests. Get outside. Spend time in your favourite forest, park or green space. Look around, breathe deeply, and reap the benefits. Develop a relationship with our urban green spaces, with nature. We're convinced the rest will follow.
Happy International Day of Forests! Come visit us to take a wander through our forested trails.