World Forest Day will be commemorated globally on Monday, March 21, 2011. In Kenya, the celebrations will take place at the Karura Resource Centre in Karura Forest and will be marked with the official launching of the International Year of Forests.

This is the first time that Kenya is celebrating World Forest Day and the International Year of Forests. The theme of the International Year of Forests is ‘Forest for People’.

The event will focus on the relationship between forests and people who depend on them. This celebration comes just after Karura was recently opened to the public as a tourist and recreation site.

The celebration follows a declaration by the United Nations to set apart 2011 as the International Year of Forests which appeals to all UN Member States to dedicate this year to conservation activities to celebrate the forests of the world.

During the celebration, innovative community initiatives that seek to improve livelihoods through sustainable forestry conservation will be recognised and given awards. The main highlight of the day will be the setting up of a Forest Heroes Award that will recognize individuals that have made outstanding contributions to forests.

The award will mainly focus on the unsung heroes and heroines; who the UN calls ‘the everyday people’ who tirelessly work towards nurturing, protecting, and developing forests.

The United Nations Forum on Forests is currently identifying individuals as forest spokespersons who can use their leadership or celebrity status to generate media attention and help to raise awareness and support for forests.

In Kenya, the national steering committee plans to launch a corporate forest management Award and conduct tree planting in all counties at the onset of the long rains in April. Public awareness programmes will include hosting Zonal forestry management exhibitions and enhancing school-based tree planting.