Established by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Forests celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. Action includes local and national community-based events such as tree planting, film festivals or art shows.

Forests play a critical role in climate change.

Deforestation results in 12-18% of the world’s carbon emissions — almost equal to all the CO2 from global transportation. Internationally, we lose forest cover equivalent to the landmass of England (13 million hectares or 32 million acres) every year. This also results in the loss of the plants and animals these forests support — 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity.

Equally critical, healthy forests are one of the world’s primary “carbon sinks.” As they grow, trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere, transmuting it into solid matter to form their structures.

Today, forests cover more than 30% of the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 tree species.

On Vancouver Island, we live in a temperate rain forest — one of several in the world.

Our Pacific Northwest temperate rain forest supports mixed coniferous and broad-leaf trees — most notably the western red cedar, hemlock, and spruce, as well as broadleaf maple (not the same maple as in eastern Canada). In addition, the moist climate produces a lush forest floor of ferns, mosses, fungi, shrubs and berries. Many native plants — notably cedar and salal — had historical uses by our indigenous people.

Get outdoors and enjoy forest-bathing.

For most of the population here, the most accessible place to soak up the forest is China Beach (Sooke), but that involves a long drive from Victoria. For a truly original forest of thick moss and giant trees — some of the last standing — it can be worth it for the trip to Avatar Grove (Port Renfrew) or Cathedral Grove (Hwy 4 on the way to Tofino). Of course, it’s best for the environment to stay local and just enjoy your closest forest or wooded area for some “green therapy.”