Washington, DC (April 27, 2015) - Over the next 15 years, forest landscapes equaling an area more than twice the size of Texas could be lost to rampant deforestation, according to a new report released today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
If nothing is done, 11 of the world’s most ecologically important forest landscapes – including the forest homes of orangutans, tigers, and elephants – will account for over 80 percent of forest loss globally by 2030, the report states.
Up to 420 million acres of forest could be lost between 2010 and 2030 in these “deforestation fronts” if current trends continue, according to findings in the latest chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report series. The hot spots are located in 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.
“Stopping deforestation now is much more strategic and cost-effective than dealing with the consequences later,” said Tom Dillon, senior vice president for forests and freshwater at WWF. “And we need to stop deforestation in all of the 11 hotspots, not just some of them, so that we avoid pushing deforestation out of one country and into another.”
Forests provide habitat to species found nowhere else on Earth, are home to thousands of indigenous groups, and supply crucial natural resources, including some of our most important carbon storehouses.
Living Forests Report: Saving Forests at Risk examines where most deforestation is likely in the near term, as well as the main causes and solutions for reversing the projected trends. 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 can contribute to forest degradation, or “death by a thousand cuts,” while mining, hydroelectricity and other infrastructure projects bring new roads that open forests to settlers and agriculture.
“The good news is that we can stop deforestation on a grand scale,” said David McLaughlin, acting senior vice president of sustainable food at WWF. “But we must do more. By improving practices, strengthening laws and their enforcement, and increasing demand, food producers, governments, civil society and consumers can work together to feed the world without destroying another forest.”
The report outlines critical interventions needed to curb the trajectory of forest loss. One of the most important is working in the private sector to removedeforestation from supply chains. WWF is helping several companies in the agriculture and forest sectors create such commitments and develop action plans to meet them.
WWF also is using an innovative funding approach to create funds that will help country’s properly manage their networks of protected areas. Globally, these vital areas provide a safe haven for our planet’s terrestrial species, protect our drinking water and provide livelihoods for thousands of people.
And, working with governments, WWF plays a role in strengthening finance, governance and policy by securing funding for REDD+, developing green economy plans, and ensuring the full implementation of enforcement policies, such as the Lacey Act.
The full report can be found at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/publications/living-forests-report-chapter-5-saving-forests-at-risk