Global snapshot

Feature Story - 2006-03-22
What we've lost, what we have left and what we will loose if we don't act now. That is the message that the latest global maps of the planet's last intact forests and most vulnerable ocean areas tells us.

A baby orang-utan in Wanariset Samboja sanctuary, Indonesia. One of the many species that will become extinct if a global network of protected areas aren't created.

The maps were launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as government delegates begin negotiating how to stop the world's plants and animals from disappearing forever.

View the map of the last intact forests

View a map of the ocean areas most in need of protection

The CBD has set itself the goal of significantly reducing the number of plants and animals becoming extinct by 2010 for life on land and 2012 for ocean life. It is an ambitious target given that they have barely started the work after 14 years of painfully slow negotiations between the more than 180 counties who have signed the convention.

Our latest maps show that implementing a global network of large protected areas, which are required to stop the slide towards extinction for many plants and animals can be achieved now. The map of the remaining intact forest areas was created using the latest satellite images and is the most up-to-date map of its kind. The map of the oceans uses the latest research to determine the areas of the ocean in most need of protection.

If the global network of protected areas isn't implement, within 20 years, a huge portion of the planet's plants and animals will be lost forever. There has never been a more urgent need for action.

"Governments can use these new maps to fast track a global network of large, protected areas both on land and at sea. They can no longer use the lack of maps and data as an excuse for not taking action to halt the biological catastrophe we are facing. If they don't, we run the risk of losing even more species forever, and in so doing jeopardising our own survival," said Greenpeace International forest campaigner, Christoph Thies.

The launch of the maps coincides with Greenpeace campaigns to highlight the global biodiversity crisis. Greenpeace is in the heart of the Amazon campaigning to prevent it being cleared to grow agricultural product such as soy. Greenpeace has also set up a Global Forest Rescue Station in the Paradise Forests of Papua New Guinea to protect the forests from illegal logging.

At sea, our ship the Esperanza is continuing its 15-month long Defending Our Oceans Expedition, currently focused on stopping pirate fishing and securing sustainable future livelihoods for the millions of coastal communities who depend on the marine environment for food and income.

The challenge for the world is to use these maps as a roadmap to recovery and not as a sad reminder to future generations of what we could have saved if only the governments of the world had acted.

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