Remaining forests detailed in unique map

Posted by admin — 21 March 2006 at 9:00am - Comments

Click on the map to see details of each region

We are destroying the world's precious ancient forests at an unprecedented rate. An area of natural forest the size of a soccer pitch is cut down every two seconds.

A quarter of the forest lost in the last 10,000 years has been destroyed in the last 30 years. Forest loss has a direct link to loss of biodiversity. The current extinction rate of plant and animal species is around 1,000 times faster than it was in pre-human times - and this will increase to 10,000 times faster by 2050. Scientists predict that the Earth is entering the sixth major extinction event in its history.

How much is left?

· Less than 10 per cent of the planet's land area remains as intact forest landscapes.

· 82 countries out of 148 countries lying within the original forest zone have lost all their intact forest landscapes.

· The majority of the world's last remaining intact forest landscapes consist of two major forest types - tropical rainforest and boreal forest.

· 49 per cent of the remaining intact forests are the tropical forests of Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific.

· 44 per cent of the remaining intact forests are the great boreal forests of Russia, Canada and Alaska.

Until now, world maps have not been sufficiently accurate or consistent to reveal which forest areas remain intact, which have been damaged and to what extent. This has made it difficult to see which forest areas are most in need of protection. Greenpeace has created a new map of the world's forests, based on the most up to date, high-resolution satellite imagery and a consistent set of criteria.

This ground breaking research shows that the world's remaining ancient forests are in crisis and that fewer intact forest landscapes than previously thought are left.

Viable habitats for animals and plants

To save them, we must act now and to preserve these last intact forests and the biodiversity they support, we must protect large, unbroken areas from further industrial exploitation.

It is also about the degradation of forest to a point at which it is no longer a viable habitat for its plant and animal species.

In the tropics alone, over 5 million square kilometres of forest have been degraded by destructive logging and a further 3.5 million square kilometres has been totally deforested during the last few decades.

The moment a road or pipeline is built the forest and its precious balance of interdependent species begins to be destroyed. These maps are a starting point for monitoring these last large forests landscapes now and in the future and are the baseline for a roadmap to recovery.

World governments can use these maps to identify which forest areas are most in need of protection and to fast track setting up a global network of protected forest areas.

For more detailed maps available as Google Earth or Arcview files, methodology explanations and discussion forums, go to

About Earth Lady

Coordinator of the North Kent group and a Garden Design student

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