Don't take arid forests for granted says UN
On Sunday, the United Nations used World Environment Day to sing the praises of the forests which have given us a third of our agricultural crops and on which half the world livestock relies.
Arid zone forests need projection said Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification who gave the UN's message for World Environment Day.
Wheat, barley, sorghum, corn, cabbage, potatoes and olives all originate from these forests along with many other important food crops. Up to 2 billion people depend on these woodlands to stay alive.
Using the concept of Environmental Services, the UN rates arid zone forests very highly, both for us and for their wider role as homes to the world's largest concentration of mammals, over 50,000 plant and 1,500 bird species. They also help regulate the climate and, according to the UN, are under threat.
Policy makers, say the UN, don't give enough attention to these forests and consider them as three separate resources: forest, land and water, making conservation efforts fragmented.
The UN is calling on governments to take concerted conservation action including providing money to protect these ecosystems. A 10 year plan from the UN will monitor the progress of both conserving these environments and improving the lives of the people who live in them. A conference in 2012 will attempt to put a monetary value on these arid lands.
Luc Gnacadja, said: "Arid zone forests are the prototype of nature at humanity's service, but are often taken for granted. Let this year's World Environment Day be the time for an unequivocal commitment to the protection of the arid zone forest, land and water resources. Together we can improve the livelihoods of the communities affected by poverty, and eliminate a major cause of the degradation of the forest, water and land resources. Doing so would enhance food security and secure the resources in the dry lands for posterity."