On this International Day of Forests, it's hard to overstate just how important forests are to the health and sustainability of people and our planet. As FAO reports, about 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity is contained within forests and more than a billion people worldwide directly depend on forests for food, shelter, energy and income.
Unfortunately, deforestation, land degradation and climate change currently pose unprecedented threats to the biodiverse forests that help ensure environmental and social resilience. This has grave ramifications. For example, deforestation and subsequent biodiversity loss is bringing people into closer contact with animal species that are natural hosts of bacteria and viruses, facilitating the transmission of diseases such as Lyme disease or COVID-19 from wildlife to humans.
At this moment, while the global status-quo of ecological practices is being disrupted, we need clear research to support better practices. Through projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and its partners work to better understand the severity of risks in individual forest ecosystems, account for the commonwealth of ecosystem services provided by these forests, and promote science-based efforts for their conservation and restoration.