International Day of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21st March – Spring Equinox as the International Day of the Forests in 2012. A time of equal day and night, the plants for the past 6 weeks (at least) have been responding to the change in light – and if you have been feeling better, it is likely to do with the change in light.
For those of us lucky enough to work in the woods, we have been eagerly waiting for this very moment.
Everything is about to change.
The sap is rising and soon all the new leaves will finally show themselves again. This is the week to harvest Silver Birch sap – only a small window exists when the sap is rising enough to tap into the xylem and drink this Spring tonic.
Birch sap is full of amino acids, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins – one of many, many medicines that come from the trees. Not forgetting they consume our carbon dioxide and give us oxygen.
Forests are really very large woods.
There was at time here in the UK too when the land was covered in trees (they have come and gone before), when they supported wolves and deer.
And if you go back further, there were even lions and elephants.
Hard to imagine eh!
Many in the world continue to look at trees, water, the land as a resource, owned by humans, instead of experiencing and perceiving the different trees and plants (as one example) as another valuable expression of life. We are completely dependent on all these relationships; they are not mechanical resources.
Despite having the lowest woodland cover in Europe, we can still enjoy and appreciate these places and find sanctuary with the trees. The woods remain places of comfort and peace, and much joy to many. We can re-learn that the woods are not a resource. For me the feeling in the woods, co-create a feeling of connection and community beyond the human, and I am grateful to spend time in these places.
As partners, together we all aim to look after and protect the old trees, and slowly change the plantation trees over to native tree species. All nature-based projects need the support of the community – so that our children, and the offspring of the living world can thrive.
Happy Spring Equinox
Happy International Day of Forests
Did you know?
- A study from 43 000 households across 27 countries in Africa found that the dietary diversity of children exposed to forests was at least 25% higher than that of children who were not.
- The total number of plant species used for medicinal purposes could be as high as 50,000.
- Several studies proved that a visit to a forest environment lowers blood pressure and pulse rate, and reduces cortisol levels.
- The world is losing 10 million hectares of forest each year due to deforestation – about the size of Iceland – and insects damage around 35 million hectares of forest annually.
(Taken from the UN Website)
Extensive research demonstrates that spending time in forests and nature contributes to reducing stress and promoting more positive moods and feelings. In children, nature boosts healthy mental and social development.
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About the Author
Marina Robb (Bsc; PGCE; MA; Msc; Author) is Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery Community Interest Company and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd, both leading organisations that aim to transform education and health through nature.
Marina has more than 30 years’ experience in outdoor learning and nature connection. She provides a deep understanding of effective nature education at all levels and for a range of diverse backgrounds.