Forests, Forest Species and Ecosystems’ Key Role in Sustaining the Livelihoods of Hundreds of Millions of People, Particularly of Indigenous and Local Communities…

Illustration of animals and indigenous people among the branches of a forest.

Though World Wildlife Day is an annual celebration, wildlife conservation is an issue that needs attention and action every day. #DoOneThingToday to make a difference and help wildlife conservation. | PHOTO:World Wildlife Day/Gabe Wong

2 March 2021 (United Nations)* — World Wildlife Day will be celebrated in 2021 under the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet“, as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.

This aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 13 and 15, and their wide-ranging commitments on alleviating poverty, ensuring sustainable use of resources, and on conserving life land.

Between 200 and 350 million people live within or adjacent to forested areas around the world, relying on the various ecosystem services provided by forest and forest species for their livelihoods and to cover their most basic needs, including food, shelter, energy and medicines.

Roughly 28% of the world’s land surface is currently managed by indigenous peoples, including some of the most ecologically intact forests on the planet. These spaces are not only central to their economic and personal well-being, but also to their cultural identities.

Forests, forests species and the livelihoods that depend on them currently find themselves at the crossroads of the multiple planetary crises we currently face, from climate change, to biodiversity loss and the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This day will celebrate forest-based livelihoods and seek to promote forest and forest wildlife management practices that accommodate both human well-being and the long-term conservation of forests and promote the value of traditional practices that contribute to establishing a more sustainable relationship with these crucial natural systems.

Get involved

Share what you’ve learned with your friends and family.

Spread the word. especially to children and youth. They are the future leaders of wildlife conservation and they deserve a future where we humans live in harmony with wildlife that share the planet with us. Here are some outreach materials.

Remember to use the hashtags #WorldWildlifeDay #WWD2021 #ForestPeoplePlanet

The incalculable value of wildlife

The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value and contribute to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of human well-being and to sustainable development.

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservation provides to people.

At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human-induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. Given these various negative effects, Sustainable Development Goal 15 focuses on halting biodiversity loss.

Let us remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet. Let us push for a more caring, thoughtful and sustainable relationship with nature.

António Guterres

World Wildlife Day poster

*SOURCE: United Nations. Go to ORIGINAL.



The world is dealing with unprecedented threats to wildlife. Illegal wildlife trade continues to pose a real danger to biodiversity, ecosystems and human health, as a number of emerging diseases stem from animal products, both domestic and wild. Here are three ways that UNEP works to address this illegal trade.

Related links

Related international days

The forest in Indonesia

This year’s International film festival focuses on the immense value of our planet’s forests and the millions of human livelihoods they sustain. Winners and finalist films entered into the competition will be shown throughout 2021, spreading the message that the forests are pillars of humanity’s social and economic well-being, as well as key elements of the planet’s environmental health and biological diversity.

Illustration of a Koala hanging on a branch while a forest fire burns in the background.

Youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Children have a natural affinity for both animals and plants, as well as art, and they are more and more aware of the challenges facing the planet. This year’s contest is an opportunity to highlight multiple global environmental crises faced by forest ecosystems and the wildlife and humans within, from climate change to biodiversity loss. Discover this year’s finalists!

2021 Human Wrongs Watch


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