Exploring March and International Forest Day

Exploring March and International Forest Day

I believe every month holds its beauty and wonders, but if we are honest March can be a greater challenge when searching for those bright spots. It is considered one of the dreariest months on the calendar. As we inch towards spring, the winter of 2023 might be remembered as one long March. Despite a few days here and there of frigid temperatures, last week provided our only plowable snow of the winter.

While the forests and fields of early March wear a bleak countenance, each branch holds a precious bud that is slowly swelling with new life.  By month’s end the gray and brown of the winter forest will be dotted with the colors of spring.

“In earlier ages, when the year began with the month of March, the calendar was nearer in accord with nature,” wrote Edwin Way Teal in “A Walk Through The Year.” “In March winter is coming to an end. In March spring draws nearer and arrives. And it is the coming of spring, the time of nature’s beginning again, that in each revolution around the sun forms the natural starting point of the natural year.”

Maybe the great transformation that begins this month in our forests is why the International Day of Forests is March 21. Meant to celebrate forests and create awareness about the importance of preserving them, the commemoration began in November 1971 when the 16th session of the Conference of Food and Agriculture Organization voted to establish World Forestry Day on March 21 of each year. In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly made a proclamation to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and the name was changed to International Day of Forests. To learn more about the United Nations’ observance of International Day of Forests check out the link below:


Many aspects of our lives are connected to forests. Our homes and countless everyday items are made of wood, including the paper we write on. There are many times I have intentionally escaped to the solitude of the woodlands to calm and invigorate my senses. But forests are so much more than a place to enjoy nature or a source of wood for the items in our lives.

Our forests nurture soil, prevent soil erosion and are nature’s perfect “carbon sinks,” absorbing and trapping carbon dioxide in wood and roots. Forests are the lungs of the Earth and like giant sponges, take in carbon dioxide and give us oxygen. Quite literally, they are critical to life on planet Earth and will be even more important as we continue to experience global climate change.

I hope you’ll join me March 21 to celebrate the International Day of Forests by learning more about the important role our woods play in our lives. A good place to start is by taking the time to read “Connecticut’s 2020 Forest Action Plan,” published by the Forestry Division of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP). You can access the full report on their website, though I suggest first looking over the summary with a StoryMap, which includes highlights and helpful interactive maps related to the action plan. You can access the summary at this link:


The full report of the CT Forest Action Plan can be found at:


Not all forests are the same and the Forestry Action Plan is specific to our woods, highlighting the critical value our forested lands provide when it comes to clean water, wildlife, recreation and the wood products industry. There are also important facts in the Plan I find helpful in understanding the value of our wooded landscape.

Connecticut is the 14th-most forested state in the country with nearly 60 percent in forest cover, yet the state is also the 4th-most densely populated. Here in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, we have about 77 percent forest cover.  Statewide almost 72 percent of our forestland is privately owned. The long-term health and vitality of our forests requires public and private partnerships to help prevent fragmentation, protect against invasive species and help retain healthy woods for future generations. If you own forested land, contact us for a free copy of our publication “Your Family Land: Legacy or Memory?”

Other ideas for celebrating International Day of Forests could include planting a tree or going for a hike to enjoy our many state parks and forests or publicly accessible land trust properties.

While you’re learning about forests, don’t forget daylight savings time is March 13. The first day of spring will soon follow and that means the first events of The Last Green Valley’s Spring Outdoors program are right around the corner. You can join us to celebrate spring’s arrival with our Vernal Equinox Hike in Sturbridge, MA on March 20. Spring Outdoors then continues for three months of hikes, walks, bikes, paddles and other programs. You’ll find more than 120 Spring Outdoors adventures on the TLGV website. This year we will also have a printed Spring Outdoors guide that will be arriving in town halls, libraries and other businesses soon. Keep up with the additions and updates on social media and our website.

Time will tell if March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This is southern New England, however, and it’s possible winter will still make a showing before spring decides to arrive and stay. We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, together let us care for it, enjoy it and pass it on.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300 or by email at bill@tlgv.org

Exploring The Last Green Valley – March 5, 2023

The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article.  The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.


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