'Forest for Life' exhibit promotes forest conservation

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 22, 2023
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A special art exhibit was held in Beijing on Sept. 19 to push for and inspire regional forest conservation and restoration efforts.

The "Forest for Life" exhibit by artist Yuan Long was unveiled in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo courtesy of UNEP]

At the Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchanges Center, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the China Green Foundation unveiled the "Forest for Life" exhibit. This display is part of the "Forest for Life" campaign, a collaboration between the UN-REDD Programme – a flagship UN partnership focused on forests, climate, reducing forest emissions, and enhancing forest carbon stocks – and the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. The campaign aims to connect consumers to forests, underscoring the influence of personal choices on essential ecosystems.

Natalia Alekseeva, coordinator of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, underscored the campaign's significance, noting at the event that "We need to urgently prevent, halt, and reverse forest degradation within this decade. Without conserving forests, we cannot achieve our climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development goals. The 'Forest for Life' campaign is a clarion call to action for all generations to protect and restore forests, and a reminder that together we have the power to heal our planet."

The exhibit, featuring art installations by Chinese artist Yuan Long, offers a deeply immersive experience. Drawing inspiration from the Chinese saying, "Within wood, there are people; within forests, there are origins; and within groves, there are crowds," the exhibit titled "Woods, Groves, and Forests, People in Crowds" encourages contemplation of the profound link between humans and their environment.

"This exhibition showcases not just the beauty of forests but also underscores the imperative to safeguard this invaluable resource," said Liu Ning, deputy director general of the Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation under China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, during his opening remarks. "Forests serve not just as the Earth's lungs but also as habitats for countless species. Advocating for the sustainable development of forest ecosystems not only enhances biodiversity but also safeguards water sources, combats climate change, and elevates human well-being."

Mario Boccucci, head of the UN-REDD Secretariat, expressed his enthusiasm for the exhibit, adding, "The Lower Mekong forests are of great importance for livelihoods, biodiversity, and climate change solutions. The 'Forest for Life' exhibit serves as a powerful means for increasing awareness, inspiring efforts to conserve and restore these critical ecosystems, ensuring a sustainable future for all."

Forests and trees, covering roughly 31% of the world's land area, serve as the planet's critical lifelines, offering essential services like clean air, freshwater, and climate regulation. Yet, with an annual loss of about 10 million hectares, these green expanses face severe challenges from deforestation, illegal logging, pollution, and urban expansion. Such deforestation alone accounts for nearly 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These lush areas are not only environmental treasures; they sustain the livelihoods of approximately 1.6 billion people and provide habitats for over 80% of terrestrial species, encompassing diverse animals, plants, and insects, according to the UNEP.

Attendees at the "Forest for Life" exhibit and roundtable panel gather for a photo in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2022. [Photo courtesy of UNEP]

Later that day, a roundtable featured key discussions on collaborative approaches, strategies, challenges, and opportunities in forest conservation and restoration. Experts, policymakers, and delegates from various entities, including youth groups, provided their insights during the session.

"The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasized that Chinese modernization is the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature. Large-scale afforestation is vital for a sustainable ecosystem and achieving this modernization," said Chen Peng, vice chairman and secretary general of the China Green Foundation. "The China Green Foundation serves as a bridge for society to engage in national land greening. We have mobilized social forces, expanded forest resources, and contributed to a greener China, offering Chinese wisdom to global efforts for a shared future.

"The 'Forest for Life' exhibit offers an opportunity to reconnect with nature, rekindle our sense of responsibility, and inspire collective action. Together, we can pave the way for effective forest restoration, profoundly impacting the ecological future," Chen added.

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