Until now, it has been hard to keep tabs on the world's ancient forests. We know that we have been destroying forests at an unprecedented rate, but it's been difficult to determine which forests have been most affected and to what extent. Fortunately, we have created a new map of our ancient forests (what's left of them anyway) using up-to-date, high resolution satellite imagery. Today, only eight percent of our ancient forests are protected, and as this map clearly indicates, we need to act fast to protect the rest.
World map of remaining intact forest landscapes
*This includes both damaged areas and intact forest areas smaller than 500 km2
What forests are protected?
Overall, only 8 percent of the world's remaining intact forest landscapes are strictly protected.
The proportion of the remaining intact forest landscapes of the world are located in the following areas:
- 35 percent in Latin America. The Amazon rainforest is mainly located in Brazil, which clears a larger area of forest annually than any other country in the world.
- 28 percent in North America. North America destroys 10,000 square kilometres of ancient forests every year. Many of the fragmented forests of southern Canada and the US lack adequate animal travel corridors and functioning ecosystems for large mammals.
- 19 percent in Northern Asia. Northern Asia is home to the second largest boreal forest in the world. The Siberian tiger once roamed across huge areas of Northern Asia but today it can only be found in a small area of intact forest near the Sea of Japan. Only 400 remain in the wild, with twice as many in zoos.
- 7 percent in South Asia Pacific. The Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific are being destroyed faster than any other forest on Earth. Much of the large intact forest landscapes have already been cut down, 72 percent in Indonesia and 60 percent in Papua New Guinea.
- 8 percent in Africa. Africa has lost most of its intact forest landscapes in the last 30 years. The timber industry is responsible for destroying huge areas of intact forest landscapes and continues to be the single largest threat to these areas.
- Less than 3 percent in Europe. In Europe, more than 150 square kilometres of intact forest landscapes fall victim to the chainsaw every year and the last areas of the region's intact forest landscapes in European Russia are shrinking rapidly.
For more detailed maps available as google earth (.kmz) or Arcview (.shp) file downloads, methodology explanation and discussion forum go to www.intactforests.org.