Eleven global hotspots will account for over 80 per cent of forest loss by 2030, according to research released today by WWF.
Up to 170 million hectares of forest could be lost between 2010 and 2030 in these “deforestation fronts” if current trends continue, according to findings in the latest WWF’s Living Forests Report.
The fronts - the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest and Gran Chaco, Borneo, the Cerrado, Choco-Darien, the Congo Basin, East Africa, Eastern Australia, Greater Mekong, New Guinea and Sumatra - contain some of the richest wildlife in the world, including endangered species such as orangutans and tigers. All are home to indigenous communities.
Rod Taylor, Director of WWF’s global forest programme said:
“Imagine a forest stretching across Germany, France, Spain and Portugal wiped out in just 20 years.”
“We must tackle that risk to save the communities and cultures that depend on forests, and ensure forests continue to store carbon, filter our water, supply wood and provide habitat for millions of species.”
WWF analysis shows that more than 230 million hectares of forest will disappear by 2050 if no action is taken. Forest loss must be reduced to near zero by 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change and economic losses.
WWF-UK’s Chief Adviser on Forests, Will Ashley-Cantello said:
“Deforestation needs to stop if we are to reverse biodiversity loss and combat climate change – which, if unchecked, will affect our quality of life.
“Managing forests sustainably could underpin sustainable development, poverty alleviation and a stable climate around the world. 2015 should be a year of action locally, nationally and globally – and Britain can play a key role in driving change by shaping new UN Sustainable Development Goals and working for an ambitious global climate deal.”
Globally, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock, palm oil and soy production, but also encroachment by small-scale farmers. Unsustainable logging and fuelwood collection - or “death by a thousand cuts” - contributes to forest degradation, while mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects bring new roads that open forests to settlers and agriculture.
WWF-UK is campaigning to close EU loopholes that mean Britain still contributes to the illegal trade in timber products, and calling on British businesses to buy wood only from sustainable sources.
Will Ashley-Cantello said:
“Here in the UK you can still buy furniture, books, cards and other products made from illegally or unsustainably sourced wood. EU rules to prevent the exploitation of forests only cover half of traded products. The next UK government should lobby hard to end this nonsense.”
The Living Forests Report will be published at the Tropical Landscapes Summit: A Global Investment Opportunity, an international gathering of political, business and civil society leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Despite a recent slowdown, deforestation remains a major issue in Indonesia. Sumatra has lost more than half of its natural forests due to paper and palm oil plantations, and the remaining forest is severely fragmented. WWF projections show that another 5 million hectares of forest could be lost by 2030.
EU rules governing the trade in timber products are due for review in 2015. WWF is campaigning to close loopy loopholes that contribute to the destruction of the world’s forests, and is working with colleagues in Europe to ensure that the regulation is implemented and enforced effectively across all 28 Member States.
The Living Forests Report aims to catalyse debate on the future role and value of forests in a world where humanity is living within the Earth’s ecological limits and sharing its resources equitably.
The Living Forests Model, which WWF developedwith the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, forms the basis for the Living Forests Report. panda.org/livingforests
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
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