Minister’s Message – International Day of Forests

Forests and innovation: New solutions for a better world

Every year, on the 21st of March, the world celebrates International Forest Day. World forestry day serves as a reminder of the role forests play in sustaining our planet. The day aims to raise awareness about the importance of all types of forests and promote education to foster their conservation and sustainable management. Forest biodiversity provides the foundations for many vital ecosystems services for both people and planet. Healthy forests act as natural filters and provide clean air and water whilst also providing resources such as wood, food, medicine. It is estimated that 1.6 billion people across the world depend directly on forest ecosystems. Forests also harbor about 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity including birds, mammals, amphibians and it is estimated that about almost 100 species are lost per day through deforestation.

The chosen theme for this year is Forests and innovation: New solutions for a better world”.

The continuous increase in the world’s population, increase in demand for resources along with the impact of climate change makes it necessary to have new innovations in which forest ecosystems are managed. New approaches have to be taken to ensure the balance between meeting our needs sustainably whilst ensuring healthy forest ecosystems for the next generation.

Here in the Seychelles, more than 47% of our land is protected and over the years there has been a lot of effort to conserve our forests. However, with an increase in population, demand for more land, changes in climate and the introduction of invasive species, managing our forests have become more challenging. Addressing invasive species is one of the priority of the government and there has been effort by both government and NGO’s to address this problem.

Current efforts also include a new national forest policy which is being finalized and will address the current issues in the Forest Sector. Work is also being done on a forest management bill which will guide the country in applying the general principles of sustainable forest management in the forest of Seychelles. The Breadfruit and Other Trees Act which dates back to the 1950’s is also being reviewed and updated to reflect the current challenges, all with the aim of ensuring sustainable use of our forests whilst also conserving our natural habitats. All of these tools will help to prioritize the management of our forest resources.

Forests should not only be the responsibility of government but that of everyone. In order to address challenges such as invasive species, a collective effort is required from each individual, communities and organizations. This year, there will be more initiatives for collaborations between communities and government to work together to ensure we maintain and restore our forest ecosystems. More tangible and credible action on the ground will be required and for that we will need the help of everyone.

On this International Day of Forests, let us recommit to our engagement towards healthy forests for healthier ecosystems in our country. We ask to take a minute you to reflect on the many direct and indirect benefits that forests and how our actions can contribute positively.

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