Father Christmas took some time away from his job of reading children's letters on Monday (December 9) to deliver an important message about saving the world's forests.

This year Santa has been visiting schools in the Finnish town of Rovaniemi, inside the Arctic circle, to explain to children why they need to take care of their trees.

"You, children, are the next generation" Santa Claus said in a classroom at a local school.

"You need to ensure that our forests continue to be looked after, because the best gift we can give each other now and every Christmas, is a healthy planet. Looking after our forests is a key part of that" he said.

On Monday, Santa began a new role as Forestry ambassador, welcoming European Union Forestry ministers for a conference in Rovaniemi.

"We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors but we borrow it from our children," Santa said as he addressed the start of the meeting.

Finland leads Europe with its policy of sustainable forestry which has been in place for decades.

Beautiful wooden play areas in children's playgrounds are a common sight throughout the country.

"The wood itself, it's a renewable material. And when we harvest the wood here in Finland, we also replant a new tree. And in that sense, there is always a new forest growing for the future generations" explained Johanna Ikaheimo, Chairperson of the Lappset board.

Family homes in Finland have also, traditionally, been constructed out of wood. And modern buildings are now also being constructed from sustainably managed forests.

"People in Europe are increasingly conscious of the importance of the environment and this has driven the improvement of sustainable forest management as well as the innovative ways of using their forest resources" said United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Forest Officer Dominque Reeb.

Presented by Adam Justice