Roadmap to Paradise Forests recovery: Greenpeace maps show forests critical at Earth Summit

Feature story - March 22, 2006
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 areas tells us.

The Fly River, near Lake Murray.

Groundbreaking satellite maps reveal the world's forests are in critical condition, Greenpeace revealed today at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Brazil.  They include maps of the last large intact areas of ancient forests  around the world, including the 'lost world' or 'garden of Eden'  region of forest on the island of New Guinea.

"The maps provide evidence that less than 10% of the Earth's land  area remains as large intact forest areas," said Greenpeace Forests campaigner Grant Rosoman. "The maps show how heavy the human  'footprint' has been in Asia-Pacific - only in Europe are there less remaining intact forest landscapes."

World map of last intact forest landscapes

Click on the map to enlarge

"Never before have the Earth's remaining large intact forests been mapped in such detail and with a consistent methodology," said Rosoman. "We have used state of the art technology, such as high  resolution satellite imagery, to create a new important tool for governments, environment groups and landowners to understand the  extent of remaining ancient forests and work together to protect them."

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% for Indonesia and 60% for Papua New Guinea. They continue to be under enormous threat, for example 45% of intact forest landscapes in PNG are covered by logging concessions.

"In Indonesia, PNG and other Melanesian countries, these maps provide evidence to governments of the need to improve protection of ancient forests in a region with the fastest deforestation rate on earth,"   said Hapsoro, Forest Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

These groundbreaking 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 10,000 times faster by the year 2050 (1). 

As well as being a unique reservoir of biodiversity, the current intact Paradise Forests are home to thousands of indigenous peoples from hundreds of different cultures and languages. Immediate moratoria are urgently needed on new industrial developments in the last intact forests identified by these maps. They clearly show what is left of the world's ancient forests and provide clear evidence to world governments, meeting in Brazil this week, on the need for  action to protect what is left before these forests are destroyed.  

The launch of the maps coincides with Greenpeace campaigns to highlight the global biodiversity crisis.  The Rainbow Warrior is in Manokwari, Papua, Indonesia on a mission to protect the Paradise Forests from illegal and destructive logging. The flagship is near the Foja Mountain area recently declared a 'new Eden', rich in undiscovered plant and animal species. 

Greenpeace has also set up a Global Forest Rescue Station in the Paradise Forests of Papua New Guinea, working with landowners and other environment groups to protect the forests from illegal logging by establishing eco-forestry as a viable alternative.


Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Forests campaigner (in New Zealand)  +64 3382 5476 mo: +64 21 428 415

Hapsoro, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner (onboard the Rainbow Warrior) +62 812 110 8256

Nabiha Shahab,  Media campaigner, (onboard the Rainbow Warrior), +62 813 1421 3432

Arthur Jones Dionio, Regional Media campaigner, +661 9254835

(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.

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