FORESTS play a critical role in climate change.
This is the message rendered by Inoke Ratukalou, the director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Land Resources Division, marking International Day of Forests.
He said the event, which celebrated and raised awareness of the importance of all types of forests as well as trees outside forests, had particular importance for the Pacific region with deforestation contributing 12 per cent to 18 per cent of the world's carbon emissions.
"Forests and trees also play a significant role in the economic, social, environmental and cultural development of the people in the Pacific," Mr Ratukalou said, adding that about 31 per cent of the world's total land area was covered by forests.
"Forests and trees combat land degradation and desertification by stabilising soils, reducing water and wind erosion and maintaining nutrient cycling in soils," he said.
"Forests are home to over 80 per cent of terrestrial biodiversity.
"They also contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air," he said.