The UN Forum on Forests, which is made up of all the 192 countries that make up the UN’s membership, runs for two weeks and aims to emphasize the role and responsibilities of people who depend on forests at a time when forests are threatened by unsustainable practices and economic crises.“Forests are the intersection of all aspects of human life – forest history, at its core, is about the changing relationships between people and forests,” said the Director of the UN Forum on Forests Secretariat, Jan McAlpine. “At this session of the Forum, we must listen to these lessons from our natural history, and incorporate the voices of the people into forest policies to build a sustainable future for both forests and people.”At the Forum, policies and programmes related to forest-dependent communities, land tenure, and other social and cultural aspects of forests will be discussed. Representatives will also take part in the launch of the International Year of Forests on 2 February, aimed at broadening public understanding of the role that healthy forests play around the world. Forests cover about 31 per cent of Earth’s surface – or just under four billion hectares – according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. An estimated 13 million hectares of the world’s forests are lost every year, mainly as a result of converting forest land to other uses.More than 60 million people are employed by forest-based industries and the annual value of wood removed from forests is estimated to be over $100 billion.At least 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods, the majority of them poor inhabitants of areas next to forests; while an estimated 60 million people, mainly members of indigenous and local communities, live in forests. 24 January 2011Countries from around the globe have gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York for the start of a forum on strategies to help the world’s forests promote social development, improve livelihoods and contribute towards global poverty eradication.
Mother-of-two Emily Padgett, who is behind the transformation, said a natural environment helps children improve their critical thinking skills Credit:Mercury Press & Media/Mercury Press & Media She told The Telegraph: “Toys made from natural materials are very open-ended and can stimulate children’s imagination, as opposed to just pushing a button on a plastic car and it making a noise.”Metal, for example, is shiny and makes a jingly noise, and any toys built with it have been hugely popular for us.”Eco-friendly toys last much longer than plastic ones too. They are calming for children and it makes them more engrossed in what they are doing. It’s not all about noise and flashing lights!” Elspeth Fawcett, 35, who runs an eco-friendly toys company called Yummikeys, agreed that traditional plastic toys and those which require batteries are less stimulating for youngsters. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Britain’s first plastic-free nursery has been unveiled, as artificial toys are swapped with wooden alternatives and food with unrecyclable packaging is banned.New World Nursery in Washington, Tyne and Wear, has spent two years and £400 making its rooms eco-friendly to help stimulate children’s imagination.Among the new features are a suitcase filled with sand, wooden African toys, wicker baskets, hessian bunting and glass fairy lights. Real food has even been put into play kitchens.Meanwhile kitchen staff have stopped cooking food which is packaged in plastic, and the nursery’s cleaners now use refillable bottles.Hundreds of pieces of colourful plastic equipment have been donated to charity and dished out to parents at raffles, and items with neutral colours have instead been introduced.It is believed to be the first time a British nursery has gone completely plastic free.Mother-of-two Emily Padgett, who is behind the transformation, said a natural environment helps children improve their critical thinking skills and become better learners because they have to use their imagination more.She added: “Since we started introducing the changes, we’ve actually noticed the children’s behaviour has changed – they are more engrossed and have higher levels of curiosity and wonder.”