Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothingAlbert Einstein
The survival of mother earth largely depends on the realisation that it is not an exclusive possession of humans. In the pursuit of finding pathways for enhancing the quality of life, being sensitive to the environment has diminished. Wildlife plays an essential role in the ecological and biological processes that are significant to life. The rate at which the wilderness is getting extinct is alarming. Be it orangutans of Borneo, elephants of Sumatra or African Black Rhino all have one thing in common: being a critically endangered species. Russia’s Amur Leopard is on the verge of extinction, with about 40 left in the world. An estimate says that in less than 50 years, human activities would result in a drop of more than half of the wildlife populations. WWF says that global biodiversity fell over 68% in four decades.
In 2013 the UN declared 3 March, the day the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was signed – as World Wildlife Day. It has become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife. To highlight the vital role of forests in sustaining millions of people’s livelihoods globally, appropriately, this year’s theme is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”. It aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals ensuring sustainable use of resources. Observing World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the diversified forms of fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservation provides.
Our forests, forest species and ecosystems services play an irreplaceable role in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globallyInger Andersen
Executive Director of UNEP
The lives of ~300 million people depend on forested areas around the world. Indigenous peoples and local communities are at the forefront of the symbiotic relationship between humans and forest, forest-dwelling wildlife species and ecosystem services. Equally important is to protect the indigenous peoples and local communities. Comprising less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, indigenous people cover 80 per cent of global biodiversity. They believe that man belongs to the world, while so-called civilised people thought that the world belongs to them. COVID-19 has demonstrated what can happen when we start exploiting the wildlife for the joy of eating. It is a reminder for humanity to work towards rejuvenating our relationship with the natural world.
India celebrates wildlife week as a national event annually across India between 2 to 8 October. The UN Environment Programme has identified 17 mega-diverse countries globally, and India is one of them. These 17 countries contribute to 70% of the mother earth’s terrestrial biological diversity occupying just 10% of its surface. There are several government initiatives for wildlife preservation to protect their biodiversity, which started yielding results.
Wildlife is decreasing in the jungles, but it is increasing in the townsMahatma Gandhi
Being sensitive and learning to coexist is vital for preserving mother earth. Preserving wildlife is an essential component of it. If humans have caused it, they must exercise their power to correct it.