Greenpeace maps show need for global network of marine and forest protected areas

Press release - 2006-03-22
The most accurate maps ever produced covering some of the Earth's most precious ecological treasures where launched today by Greenpeace at the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Brazil. The maps reveal that less than 10% of the world's land area remains as intact forests, and identifies areas in the deep oceans in urgent need of protection. These ground-breaking maps are being released at a time when both terrestrial and marine life is being destroyed at an unprecedented rate. The current rate of extinction of plant and animal species is approximately 1,000 times faster than it was in pre-human times and is predicted to be up to 10,000 times faster by the year 2050 (1).

Mouth of Lockhart/Gordon Creek, Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada.

The maps use state of the art technology: recent high-resolution, satellite images of the world's forest areas and the latest data and techniques for mapping ocean life across the high seas, to create the most accurate picture yet of how governments can act to protect the world's major ecological systems. It is the first time that such accurate information has been available, and has prompted Greenpeace to challenge governments to adopt a unique 'Roadmap to Recovery' for the planet.

The oceans maps identify the marine areas that need immediate protection from over-fishing, destructive fishing, mining and pollution. The forest map reveals the toll that human activity, such as destructive and illegal logging and land clearance for agriculture, is having on the world's last ancient forests.

The maps make it clear that implementing a global network of large protected areas for both ocean and forest ecosystems can be achieved now. If governments don't implement them, within 20 years, a huge portion of the planet's biodiversity will be lost forever.

"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.

"To protect marine life on Earth, we paid particular attention to highly sensitive deepwater habitats to identify places most vulnerable to harm by one of the most destructive forms of fishing: deep-sea bottom trawling, " said Professor Callum Roberts of the University of York, who led the study for the oceans maps. "An immediate UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling is essential to stop the destruction of deep-sea life whilst a global network of marine reserves is established."

Immediate moratoria on new industrial developments are also needed in the last intact forest landscapes, as identified in the new forest map. These are required to prevent further destruction whilst their level of protection is significantly increased - currently only 8 per cent of these forests are adequately protected.

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, the Greenpeace ship 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.

Info:

For more information on the forest maps see:
www.intactforests.org or www.greenpeace.org/forestmaps

Roadmap to Recovery: The world's last intact forest landscapes report: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/forest-maps/

For more information on the oceans maps see:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/marine-reserves/roadmap-to-recovery/

Roadmap to Recovery: a Global Network of Marine Reserves report:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/ocean-maps/

Notes:

(1) Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC.

The forest map was created by a team of experts under the coordination of Greenpeace Russia´s forest and mapping team in Moscow, lead by Peter Potapov and Alexey Yaroshenko. They show that less than 10 per cent of the planet's land area remains as intact forest landscapes, less than we previously thought, and provides regional data that shows 82 out of 148 countries have lost all their forest landscapes. The forests map shows intact areas larger than 500 square kilometres. Many smaller forest areas with a high conservation value and in need of protection are not shown on this map.

The oceans maps were developed by experts from the University of York in the United Kingdom, lead by Professor Callum Roberts. Combining extensive data with advice from more than 60 eminent marine biologists, Professor Roberts used computer modeling to plot a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the high seas and necessary to protect the full range of ocean life inhabiting them. Particular attention was given to highly sensitive deepwater habitats and areas vulnerable to harm by one of the most destructive forms of fishing: deep-sea bottom trawling.

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