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    Introduction To Cities4Forests

    Every city, and our collective future, depend on healthy forests around the world. It is time for cities and their residents to join the global effort to conserve and restore forests — both inside and outside of city boundaries.

    From distant rainforests to city parks, forests provide tremendous benefits to urban areas including clean air and water, resilience to climate change, biodiversity conservation, and improved human health and well-being. Forests also provide jobs and income, spaces for recreation, and a suite of nature-based solutions for city infrastructure.

    Cities4Forests helps cities around the world to connect with and invest in inner forests (such as city trees and urban parks), nearby forests (such as green corridors and watersheds), and tropical forests.

    Cities4Forests encourages all cities – and their residents – to better conserve, manage, and restore these forests. By providing cities with technical assistance to align local policy, sharing knowledge and access to peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and supporting citizen engagement through communications activities, Cities4Forests encourages cities to take action together. The focus is on 4 interrelated themes: biodiversity, heath, water, and climate, including topics such as urban resilience, climate change mitigation and adaptation, green infrastructures, and ecosystem restoration.

    2020 has been referred to as a “Nature Super Year” and must be the year
    where we turn the tide on deforestation and forestry loss.
    UN Secretary-General António Guterres
    International Day of Forests | United Nations

    Deforestation And Its Significance

    Deforestation refers to the decrease in forest areas across the world that are cleared for other uses such as agricultural croplands and pasture, mining activities, and urbanization.

    Between 1900 and 2018, forest cover has reduced from 48% of habitable land (51 million km2) to 38% (40 million km2), while land for pasture and agriculture increased from 24% to 46% (for a total land area of agriculture and grazing going from 25 million km2 ha to 48 million km2). (Source: Forest area – Our World in Data which uses a database by the FAO)

    Deforestation has increased greatly since 1960 as a result of human activities with negative impacts on ecosystem functions, biodiversity, human health and the climate. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the rate of deforestation to be around 1.3 million km2 per decade.

    Read more what the FAO has to say.  Click here for more information on Forest Ecosystem integrity at a global level, including a map of human modification of forests. And here, for more graphs and data.

    International Day Of Forests 2021

    Key Messages by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations

    The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

    The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for IDF 2021 is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. Its key messages are:

    • Healthy forests mean healthy people.
    • Forest food provides healthy diets.
    • Restoring forests will improve our environment.
    • Sustainable forestry can create millions of green jobs.
    • It is possible to restore degraded lands at a huge scale.
    • Every tree counts.
    • Engaging and empowering people to sustainably use forests is a key step towards positive change.
    • We can recover from our planetary, health and economic crisis. Let’s restore the planet this decade

    Find out more here

    Key messages by Cities4Forests

    Cities4Forests revolves around four main themes: Health, Biodiversity, Water and Climate. Its key messages related to the IDF theme 2021 “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being” are:

    With health being one of our four main themes, Cities4Forests stands behind the efforts of the United Nations’ to follow the path of recovery worldwide. To us, supporting #IntlForestDay 2021 means supporting biodiversity conservation, the continued provision of ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, water cycle support, soil stabilization and quality maintenance, air purification, urban cooling, recreational and spiritual and cultural benefits, forest products such as medicinal plants, fruits, and timber, among myriad others.

    Terms To Know About Forests And Deforestation

    Most of the following definitions stem from the General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus (GEMET) developed by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) and Eionet, an institutional environmental network of almost 40 European countries that are committed to the GEMET as a source of common and relevant terminology used under the ever-growing environmental agenda.

    1. Agroforestry

    Definition: The interplanting of farm crops and trees, especially leguminous species. In semiarid regions and on denuded hillsides, agroforestry helps control erosion and restores soil fertility, as well as supplying valuable food and commodities at the same time. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    2. Biodiversity

    Definition: Genetic diversity: the variation between individuals and between populations within a species; species diversity: the different types of plants, animals and other life forms within a region; community or ecosystem diversity: the variety of habitats found within an area (grassland, marsh, and woodland for instance. 2) An umbrella term to describe collectively the variety and variability of nature. It encompasses three basic levels of organization in living systems: the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. Plant and animal species are the most commonly recognized units of biological diversity, thus public concern has been mainly devoted to conserving species diversity. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    3. Carbon Economy

    Definition: economy based on low carbon power sources that therefore has a minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment biosphere, but specifically refers to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    4. Deforestation

    Definition: The removal of forest and undergrowth to increase the surface of arable land or to use the timber for construction or industrial purposes. Forest and its undergrowth possess a very high water-retaining capacity, inhibiting runoff of rainwater. (SOURCE: GEMET).

    5. Imported/Embodied Deforestation

    Definition: ‘Imported’ or ‘embodied deforestation’ refers to the deforestation associated with the production of a good or commodity. This good or commodity may be consumed in the country of origin or traded elsewhere. It allows linking deforestation in producer countries/regions with the associated consumption of goods in consumer countries/regions. (SOURCE: European Commission)

    6. Ecosystem Restoration

    Definition: An ecosystem is a community of organisms and their physical environment interacting as an ecological unit. Although not (yet) in the GEMET, it is an important idea in restoration circles as it, generally, promotes higher biodiversity recovery than traditional hand-planting of tree saplings. (SOURCE: Khan Academy)

    7. Environmental Health

    Definition: The art and science of the protection of good health, the prevention of disease and injury through the control of positive environmental factors, and the reduction of potential physical, biological, chemical and radiological hazards. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    8. Forest

    Definition: A vegetation community dominated by trees and other woody shrubs, growing close enough together that the treetops touch or overlap, creating various degrees of shade on the forest floor. It may produce benefits such as timber, recreation, wildlife habitat, etc. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    Within Cities4Forests, we make a clear distinction between inner forests (greenery within a city), nearby forests (forests surrounding the city), and tropical, boreal, and other larger forests globally.

    9. Natural Area (terrestrial areas included, such as wetlands and deserts)

    Definition: An area in which natural processes predominate, fluctuations in numbers of organisms are allowed free play and human intervention is minimal. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    10. Nature-Based Solution (NBS)

    Definition: Cost-effective approach that uses nature to deliver a range of critical services (wetlands for flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, improved air quality) that provides environmental, social, and economic benefits, helping to build resilience by bringing more natural features and processes into the cities, landscapes, and seascapes through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    11. Reforestation

    Definition: The planting of trees in forest areas which have been cleared. Reforestation has become increasingly important for preventing or reversing environmental degradation and for helping to maximize economic returns on commercially forested lands. (SOURCE: GEMET)

    12. Urban Development (green-gray infrastructure)

    Definition: Any physical extension of, or changes to, the uses of land in metropolitan areas, often involving subdivision into zones; construction or modification of buildings, roads, utilities, and other facilities; removal of trees and other obstructions; and population growth and related economic, social and political changes. (SOURCE: GEMET) Green infrastructure refers to natural systems, including forests, floodplains, wetlands and soils, protecting and enhancing nature and natural processes consciously integrated into spatial planning and territorial development to provide additional benefits for human well-being, to maintain and enhance the delivery of benefits to human society in the form of food, materials, clean water, clean air, climate regulation, flood prevention, pollination, and recreation among others. Gray infrastructure in contrast refers to man-made structures. “Green-gray” infrastructure mixes the conservation and restoration of nature (including natural coastal buffers such as mangroves and seagrasses) with conventional approaches (such as concrete dams and seawalls). (SOURCE: European Environment Agency)

    13. Sustainable Development

    Definition: Development that provides economic, social and environmental benefits in the long-term having regard to the needs of living and future generations. Defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 as: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (SOURCE: GEMET) Forestry and “sustainable development” have a strong connection as the term was originally introduced in the field of forestry, originating back to Hans Carl von Carlowitz, 18th century, Germany. It includes measures of afforestation and harvesting of interconnected forests which should not undermine the biological renewal of forests. (SOURCE: Die Zeit, 1999)

    14. Sustainable Sourcing

    Definition: Sustainable Sourcing is the integration of social, ethical and environmental performance factors into the process of selecting suppliers. The ultimate goal is to build strong, long-term relationships with suppliers. (SOURCE: ECOVADIS)

    FAQs On Forests And Why They Are Needed

    1. How do trees and forests relate to climate change?

    Scientists state Earth’s ecosystems could support another 900 million hectares (2.2 billion acres) of forests, 25% more forested area than we have now. By planting more than a half trillion trees, the authors say, we could capture about 205 gigatons of carbon (a gigaton is 1 billion metric tons), reducing atmospheric carbon by about 25%. That’s enough to negate about 20 years of human-produced carbon emissions at the current rate, or about half of all carbon emitted by humans since 1960.

    NASA scientists stress planting trees and saving forests is not an overall solution to the current climate change. To do that, a reduction of human emissions of greenhouse gases is needed. The United Nations stresses the significance of the potential contribution of forest-related mitigation options – halting deforestation and forest degradation, promoting sustainable forest management, increasing the area of forests through e.g. reforestation, and forest landscape restoration and increasing the value of forests through expanding markets for wood products – having a positive impact on climate change. In short, forests can play a major role in the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. Forests currently absorb 30% of all CO2 emissions, 23% ocean, and the remaining 47% in the atmosphere, fueling climate change. A 2020 study says that natural forest regrowth could absorb another 23% of CO2 emissions, reducing the atmospheric % to 24%.

    2. What are the causes of deforestation?

    According to the WWF, the major causes of deforestation are:

    • Conversion of forests for other land uses, including pulp, palm, and soy plantations, pastures, settlements, roads, and infrastructure.
      Researchers commonly single out an extra cause, which falls under the conversion of forests:
      Livestock farming: According to various reports on the subject, livestock farming, which is the raising of animals for use or for pleasure, including soya production, is responsible for about 70-80% of deforestation in the Amazon region. (Greenpeace)
    • Forest fires: Each year, fires burn millions of hectares of forest worldwide. Fires are a part of nature, but degraded forests are particularly vulnerable. These include heavily logged rainforests, forests on peat soils, or where forest fires have been suppressed for years allowing unnatural accumulation of vegetation that makes the fire burn more intensely. The resulting loss has wide-reaching consequences on biodiversity, climate, and the economy.
    • Illegal and unsustainable logging: Illegal logging occurs in all types of forests across all continents – from Brazil to Indonesia – destroying nature and wildlife, taking away community livelihoods and distorting trade. Illegally harvested wood finds its way into major consumption markets, such as the U.S., and European Union, which further fuels the cycle.
    • Fuelwood harvesting: Over-harvesting for domestic use or for commercial trade in charcoal significantly damages forests.
    • Mining: The impact of mining on tropical forests is growing due to rising demand and high mineral prices. Mining projects are often accompanied by major infrastructure construction, such as roads, railway lines and power stations, putting further pressure on forests and freshwater ecosystems.
    • Climate change: Forest loss is both a cause and an effect of our changing climate. Climate change can damage forests, for instance by drying out tropical rainforests and increasing fire damage in boreal forests. Inside forests, climate change is already harming biodiversity, a threat that is likely to increase.

    3. What are the effects of deforestation?

    • Threat to Biodiversity. 80% of the Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests. Human destruction of forests put entire ecosystems in danger, creating natural imbalances, and putting life at threat.
    • People’s Livelihood. Around 1.6 billion people, of which 1 billion are among the poorest, around the globe depend on forests for their survival by hunting and gathering raw products for their small-scale agriculture processes.
    • Food Insecurity. In the future, the lack of healthy, nutritious soil will lead to food insecurity. Already more than half of the land used for food production is affected by soil erosion. According to a senior UN official, if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years. Generating three centimetres of top soil takes 1,000 years.
    • Soil Erosion. Deforestation weakens the soil, making it increasingly fragile, leaving the area more vulnerable to natural disasters such as landslides and floods.
    • Greenhouse Effect. Trees help to mitigate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, but they become carbon sources once they are cut, burned, or otherwise removed. It is estimated that deforestation is responsible for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and 1.5 billion tons of carbon is released every year by tropical deforestation.

    4. What effect is deforestation having on biodiversity?

    Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity and ensures natural sustainability for all life forms. Rainforests cover 6% of the Earth’s surface but are home to almost half 50% of the world’s plant and animal species. Scientists have estimated that there are 390,900 known plant species in the world. The Amazon alone exists of 80,000 of these plants from which more than 40,000 species play a critical role in regulating the global climate and sustaining the local water cycle. Not only that, more than 25% of the cancer medicine used in the world is derived from these rainforest plants. FAO states in a recent report that almost 20% of the rainforest has been lost due to deforestation. In addition, the IUCN Red List finds 35,765 out of 128,918 animal species are on the brink of extinction in the 21st of the century. Global wildlife of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles fell by an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016 due to deforestation.

    5. What is climate - and urban resilience?

    According to the Resilience Alliance, climate resilience is the capacity of a social-ecological system to absorb or withstand perturbations and other stressors, in this case the climate, such that the system remains within the same regime, essentially maintaining its structure and functions. It describes the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization, learning, and adaptation. In addition, urban resilience is the capacity of a city’s systems, businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

    6. What is Cities4Forests?

    As the only global platform that connects cities with forests within their boundaries, as well as forests nearby and tropical forests, Cities4Forests is an initiative that aims to catalyze political, social and economic support among city governments and urban residents to integrate forests into city development plans and programs, led by the World Resources Institute, REVOLVE, and Pilot Projects Design Collective. Cities4Forests cultivates awareness among urban residents to recognize the importance of forests and trees to human well-being. The project seeks to stimulate action to better conserve, manage, and restore these forests. Participating cities gain access to special tools, databases, and technical assistance as part of a peer-to-peer exchange network. Cities receive support in conducting analyses to identify issues, quantify benefits, and prioritize actions. Cities4Forests also provides financial capacity-building, search assistance, and proactive match-making with donors, and finally, participating cities receive a citizen engagement communication package highlighting best practices and city leadership.

    Cities4Forests is funded by Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI), the FEMSA Foundation and the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

    7. What is Ecosystem Restoration and why is it Important?

    According to IUCN, many of the world’s ecosystems have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and peoples’ livelihoods. It is not possible to conserve the earth’s biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone, which is why restoration is evident. Ecosystem restoration is the “process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed.” To put it in numbers, ecosystem restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services.

    8. What is the IUCN Red List of ecosystems and how does it work?

    The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems Categories and Criteria (RLE) is a global standard for assessing the status of ecosystem, and can be applied at local, national, regional, and global levels. These categories and criteria will eventually allow for identification of the most degraded areas at a global level, and thus allow us to better direct restoration efforts and conservation efforts.

    To date, the RLE Categories and Criteria have been applied on more than 3000* ecosystems spanning six continents and three oceans.

    *Marcos Valderrabano, IUCN Program Manager Red List of Ecosystems stated in an email on 23rd February 2021 to REVOLVE an update of 50 ecosystems on the website of IUCN to 3000 ecosystems to date.

    9. What are the health benefits of green spaces and urban forests?

    The benefits ecosystems provide include food, water, timber, air purification, soil formation and pollination. For more detailed information regarding the benefits listed through a recent study of the European Commission, read here. More directly, research shows the physical and psychological health of human beings is improved. For example, access to green space in cities was shown to correlate with longevity, recovery from surgeries, reduced stress, mental health and self-reported perception of health, all of which translate into higher well-being. In addition, green spaces in urban areas have also been shown to influence social cohesion by providing a meeting place where users develop and maintain neighborhood ties, resulting in better individual mental health and overall well-being of communities.

    10. What are the 10 Golden Rules for Reforestation?

    As tree planting initiatives have been increasing at a global level, scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Key) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (IBGI) released a paper outlining 10 golden rules for reforestation. The rules aim to guide reforestation and tree-planting initiatives to ensure the highest gains for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and ecosystem restoration and to avoid any negative consequences behind well-intentioned programs.

    1. Protect existing forests first: Before planning reforestation, always look for ways to protect existing forests, including old‐ and second‐growth, degraded and planted forests.
    2. Work together: Involve all stakeholders and make local people integral to the project. Aim to maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals: Restoring biodiversity facilitates other objectives—carbon sequestration, ecosystem services and socio‐economic benefits.
    3. Aim to maximize biodiversity recovery to meet multiple goals: Restoring biodiversity facilitates other objectives—carbon sequestration, ecosystem services and socio‐economic benefits.
    4. Select appropriate areas for reforestation: Avoid previously non‐forested lands, connect or expand existing forest, and be aware of displacing activities that will cause deforestation elsewhere.
    5. Use natural regeneration wherever possible: Natural regeneration can be cheaper and more effective than tree planting where site and landscape conditions are suitable. Plan ahead.
    6. Select species to maximize biodiversity: Plant a mix of species, prioritize natives, favor mutualistic interactions and exclude invasive species.
    7. Use resilient plant material: Obtain seeds or seedlings with appropriate genetic variability and provenance to maximize population resilience.
    8. Plan ahead for infrastructure, capacity and seed supply: From seed collection to tree planting, develop the required infrastructure, capacity and seed supply system well in advance, if not available externally. Always follow seed quality standards.
    9. Learn by doing: Base restoration interventions on the best ecological evidence and indigenous knowledge. Perform trials prior to applying techniques on a large scale. Monitor appropriate success indicators and use results for adaptive management.
    10. Make it pay: Develop diverse, sustainable income streams for a range of stakeholders, including carbon credits, NTFPs, ecotourism and marketable watershed services.

    Facts & Figures

    This section provides facts and figures from various sources and on four inter-related topics: urban climate resilience, the International Day of Forests 2021 and its main theme, deforestation, and ecosystem restoration.

    Facts on Urban Climate Resilience

    • Urban resilience to climate change describes a city that is resilient on three levels:
      • the systems of the city survive shocks and stresses;
      • the people and organizations are able to accommodate these stresses into their day-to-day decisions;
      • the city’s institutional structures continue to support the capacity of people and organizations to fulfil their aims. (ADB)
    • The water that a single tree transpires daily has a cooling effect equivalent to two domestic air conditioners for a day (Ellison et al. 2017)
    • 200 million people in the world will live below the sea level line by 2100. Most people affected would live in China: 43 million. In Europe, that would be 4 million Dutch people. (Statista)
    • By 2025, Asia will be home to 33 of the world’s 49 megacities. This rapid urbanization has consequences for both residents and the environment, pushing into unsustainable consumption and production models for years to come (GlobalData & UNESCAP)
    • Countries in water-scarce regions will see a 6% decline in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a result of climate change by 2050 (World Bank).

    Facts related to the International Day of Forests 2021

    • Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. For example, in the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching.  (WWF)
    • The Amazon rainforest hosts more than 80,000 plant species. As the world’s largest pharmacy, 25% of all cancer medicine used today is derived from rainforest plants; more than 120 natural remedies are to be found for cancer treatment. (Global Resolutions)
    • Every 48 hours, we lose a forest area the size of NYC. (Global Citizen)
    • Nearly one in three outbreaks of new and emerging diseases are linked to land-use change like deforestation, fueling the spread of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases such as Covid19. (Ecohealth Alliance)
    • Asia is home to roughly 60% of the world’s indigenous people, who have historically been marginalized and are among the most vulnerable populations. However, they hold a significant amount of knowledge that will be critical in allowing them to adapt to climate change. Despite the recognition of the critical role of indigenous knowledge, policies and plans have failed to find a place for it. (National University of Singapore)

    Facts on Deforestation

    • Deforestation is regarded as one of the world’s most pressing land-use problems. More than 1 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood. (World Resources Institute)
    • Up to 28,000 species can go extinct in the next quarter-century due to deforestation. This estimation is still present in 2021. (Reid, 2012)
    • Since humans started cutting down forests, 46 percent of trees have been felled, according to a 2015 study in the journal Nature. About 17 percent of the Amazonian rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and losses recently have been on the rise. (National Geographic 2017 and 2018, WWF, Crowther, et al. 2015)
    • About 80% of deforestation is caused by agriculture. The single biggest direct cause of tropical deforestation is conversion to cropland and pasture, to grow crops, or raising livestock to meet daily needs. (NASA Earth Observatory)
    • Due to farming and deforestation, half of the world’s topsoil has eroded away within the past 150 years. (WWF)

    Facts on Ecosystem Restoration

    • Halting the loss and degradation of natural systems and promoting their restoration have the potential to contribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation scientists say is required by 2030. (IUCN)
    • Increasing the global forest canopy by 25% could store up to 205 gigatons of carbon in areas that would naturally support woodlands. (Bastin et al. 2019)
    • Forests are vital to the water cycle, and on average, at least 40% of rainfall over land originates from evapotranspiration (the process of transferring moisture from the earth to the atmosphere by evaporation of water and transpiration from plants). In some places, such as Rio de Plata river basin, the Amazon forest contributes more than 70% of rainfall (Ellison et al. 2017).
    • As a result of human modification of forests, only 40% of remaining forests at a global level can be classified as having high ecosystem integrity. (Grantham, Duncan, & Watson, 2020)
    • Ecosystem restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services. (UNEP)

    Recommended Readings

    This section presents a selection of already published articles, data sets and reports which we found useful.

    Experts To Interview

    Dr. Elvis Paul N. Tangem
    Coordinator of Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) for the Africa Union

    Tadashi Matsumoto
    Head of Sustainable Urban Development Unit, OECD

    Nicole Polsterer
    Sustainable Consumption and Production Campaigner at Fern NGO

    Tim Christophersen
    Head, Nature for Climate Branch – Ecosystems Division, UNEP

    Marcos Valderrabano
    Programme Manager, Red List of Ecosystems, IUCN

    More info

    The GGWI is a Pan African flagship programme aimed at resilience building in the Dry lands of Africa through a mosaic of sustainable land management, restoration and sustainable economic development projects. Dr. Tangem has a solid academic background in the fied of ecology & management from intenrationally recognized universities.

    More info

    Although Mr. Matsumoto academic background is mainly in the area of wireless mobile communications, in general, his highest focus has been given to the research on iterative (Turbo) processing for equalization and multi-user detection in broadband mobile communications and information theoretic convergence property analysis of the techniques for the last 5 years at OECD.

    More info

    Nicole Polsterer is Fern’s campaigner on Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns. Fern is a non-governmental organisation aimed at making the EU work for forests and people, who depend on them. Prior to joining Fern, Nicole has mainly worked for the United Nations in different capacities in Brussels, New York and Paris. For the United Nations Environment Programme she coordinated the Global Outlook on Sustainable Consumption and Production Policies. Her other work experience includes leading a team of researchers at Sustainable Europe Research Institute in Vienna. Her focus areas were product environmental footprints and related business advisory services. Nicole’s desire to effectively communicate complex policy issues to a wider audience led her to pursue documentary filmmaking. Nicole holds Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Economics as well as International Management from the Community of European Management Schools and postgraduate diplomas on International Development and Peacekeeping from the United Nations University. Nicole speaks German, English, French and Spanish.

    More info

    Coordinator of the Freshwater, Land and Climate Branch at UN Environment (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNEP to reduce deforestation in developing countries. He is a German national and holds a Master’s degree in forest engineering and conservation from Dresden University of Technology.

    More info

    He has worked for IUCN Centre of Mediterranean Cooperation since 2010. As Ecosystem Programme Officer of IUCN MED he coordinate projects on terrestrial ecosystem management covering a wide range of conservation challenges including protected area management, climate change adaptation, landscape restoration, community management and governance and Important Plant Areas.

    Ashleigh Brown
    Camp Coordinator and Co-founder of Ecosystem Restoration Camps

    Terra Virsilas
    Inner Forests Manager, WRI

    Todd Gartner
    Director and Nearby Forests Manager, WRI

    Frances Seymour
    Co-Founder, Cities4Forests

    Jean-François Bastin
    Associate Professor at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Research Fellow NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    More info

    She has worked across the world in various contexts over the past eight years, training librarians across Africa, before setting up Ecosystem Restoration Camps in 2017. She lived at the first camp in Spain for a year, before setting up a camp in Mexico and supporting the creation of camps in other parts of the world.

    More info

    Mrs. Virsilas is the Cities4Forests Inner Forests Manager at the World Resources Institute and the focal point for engagement with Baltimore, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. She contributes to research products on policy, design, and governance related issues at the intersection of urban forestry and integrated urban planning. She is certified in green infrastructure construction, inspection and maintenance with degrees in e.g. environmental planning.

    More info

    He is the Cities4Forests Director and the Nearby Forests Manager at the World Resources Institute. He is the focal point for engagement and leads a multidisciplinary team with a mission to better conserve, manage and restore forests, working landscapes, urban green infrastructure, and other ecosystems. He his Master of Forestry degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a B.S. in finance from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.

    More info

    She is a co-founder of Cities4Forests and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute. Seymour conducts research and writing on forest and governance issues and advising WRI leadership on major initiatives. Seymour is one of the world’s foremost authorities on sustainable development whose extensive research, leadership and management experience has given her a deep understanding of the environment-related opportunities and challenges facing developing countries.

    More info

    He is an ecologist and a geographer using remote sensing to study the relationship between global change and terrestrial ecosystems (Global Change Ecology). Taking the most of the information from the ground and from space, he developed applied research to better understand the role of vegetation in the global carbon cycle and to address climate change issues through the development of ecosystem restoration strategies.

    Press Releases


    Cities4Forests prepared the following visuals for you to use in your reporting with a focus on the health benefits of forests to people and cities. Why? Because health and well-bring is one of the 4 main themes of Cities4Forests and because the theme of the 2021 International Day of Forests (21 March) is “a pathway to recovery and well-being” which is all about health.