Photo by rogergordon | flickr.com

On June 5th 2011, the globe will be bonding to commemorate World Environment Day – and I believe that you and your family/friends should take part in the celebration as well.

This year, we join together over one of our world’s most important beings - one that gives us life, knowledge, and many other services. Those beings are forests.

I’ve mentioned before how crucial it is to sustain forests. They provide us with oxygen, store carbon, and provide us with a profitable industry, if maintained in that sustainable fashion. In fact, sustainability was first defined in the German word, ‘nachhaltigkeit’, which means ‘sustainable yield’ and was invented at a time when the conservation of forests was of great concern. We’ve known for a long time that forests need to be preserved, and with 2011 being the International Year of Forests, there is a clear need for us to accept a call to action and to begin thinking critically about how forests will be managed in the future.

We need to accept that forests give us undeniable, irreplaceable services that will help us progress as humans and assist us in the protection of the environment. We’ve learned that alternative solar cells can be made using the approaches found during photosynthesis in leaves, which can help us move towards affordable renewable energy. We’ve also found that synthetic pigments and dyes could be replaced with new technologies based on the wings of some butterfly species that live in some forested areas. This could allow us to use less battery power on our cellphones, making them last longer and need less frequent charging. Some species of trees are known to have healing effects, and some have the potential to be a diesel substitute. Trees have so many different uses – we simply can’t afford to lose them!

Image by Isaac Fresia.

So what can you do to celebrate World Environment Day? Here’s a handy list of ways that you can contribute to the global picture on June 5th:

  • Plant a tree. It’s a great way to get reconnected to the earth while helping provide future generations with a reliable source of oxygen. Check with your local conservation groups to see where they’re planting!
  • Flash mobs. They are a fun way to engage your community while showing how important it is to live sustainably (and adding a few dancing trees in there would be hilarious!). You could plan the event with friends, campus or church groups, or see if there are others in your area doing the same thing. (If you choose to run an event, be sure to register your activity!)
  • Use your feet. Biking, rollerblading, or walking to your destinations is a great way to get fresh air, while caring for our forests by not using any gasoline. If that isn’t possible, then taking the bus or carpooling with friends is a great way to show that you care. 

The most important action you could take on June 5th is committing to making a difference to our forest community. Check out Treehugger’s Climate Culture Calculator to see how much carbon you could save by making small changes to your lifestyle. Then comment below and let me know that you’re committing to making a difference to our forest ecosystems on June 5th.

Sustaining forests isn’t a new idea, but it is one that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds to ensure the lives of future generations. Help us make a difference on World Environment Day.

Answer the call. The trees will thank you for it.