Moscow, 7 December 2016 – As governments meet to discuss biodiversity, Greenpeace announced today a new global campaign to save the world’s largest terrestrial carbon store – the Great Northern Forest.

Anton Beneslavsky, Forest Project Lead for Greenpeace Russia, said:

“Russia, Finland, Sweden and Canada have clearly forgotten their commitment to halt biodiversity loss, and they are deliberately allowing industry to ravage this valuable global ecosystem. We are calling on people everywhere to demand a full stop to the destruction of the Great Northern Forest.”

In 2010, governments agreed as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on a global strategic plan aimed at reversing biodiversity loss worldwide.[1] Under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, countries promised to take action to at least halve the rate of loss of natural habitat — including forests — before the end of 2020. But research shows that large parts of the Great Northern Forest, also known as the Boreal or Taiga, are being destroyed at a rate of 2.5 million hectares or more a year.[2]

Greenpeace and people around the world are calling on the governments of Russia, Finland, Sweden and Canada to keep the promise they made in 2010 and protect the Great Northern Forest. The ecosystem stretches across the northern hemisphere, encircling the Arctic. It is a crucial haven for biodiversity, and stores more carbon in its soils, trees and peat than the planet’s tropical forests combined. The area is also home to countless Indigenous nations.[3] [4]

“This is not just about maintaining important biodiversity and protecting something fragile, beautiful and global, this is about protecting the rights of Indigenous communities, protecting the carbon stores of the Northern Forest’s trees, soils, and peat — this is about protecting all of us from climate change,” added Beneslavsky.

From 4-17 December, governments meeting in Cancún, Mexico for the 13th Conference of Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) will assess whether they are on track to meet the Aichi targets.

To meet their biodiversity targets, governments need to integrate conservation into national policies across sectors such as fisheries, forestry and agriculture. They must also ensure that their national strategies and action plans are participatory and involve the people most affected. Respecting the rights and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples [5], who have lived in The Great Northern Forest since before records began, is essential to any meaningful progress towards implementing the Convention.

The Great Northern Forest is critical to reaching global biodiversity targets because it contains over a quarter of the world’s existing areas of forest and 750 billion trees, a quarter of the world’s trees.[6] It is also home to 20,000 plant and animal species,[7] including the Siberian tiger, and is the breeding grounds for 1 to 3 billion birds.[8] The Great Northern Forest stretches from Russia, through Siberia, across Ural mountains to Scandinavia and from the east coast of Canada to Alaska.

Greenpeace is calling for protection of The Great Northern Forest and a massive reduction of forest degradation across the region,[9] prioritising precious ‘intact forest landscapes’ and other ‘critical forest’ areas that are key to conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change.


Notes for editors:

[1] For the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, click here.

[2] For Greenpeace calculations based on global Intact Forest Landscape maps, click here.

[3]  For information about Boreal forest health and global change, by Science Magazine, click here.

[4] For global estimates of boreal forest carbon stocks and flux, click here.

[5] For the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, click here.

[6] For the mapping tree density at a global scale by nature, click here.

[7] Ruckstuhl, K.E., Johnson, E.A. & Miyanishi, K. 2008. Introduction. The boreal forest and global change. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B 363: 2245–2249.

[8] For the global role for sustaining bird populations, by the University of California Press, Berkeley, click here.

[9] For the petition to the governments of Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia demanding protection of the Great Northern Forest, click here.


Anton Beneslavsky, Forest Project Leader, Greenpeace Russia,  +7 963 785 822, [email protected]

Khalimat Tekeeva, Media Officer, Greenpeace Russia, +7 965 210 3374, [email protected]

Juha Aromaa, Communications lead for The Great Northern Forest campaign, Greenpeace Finland, +358 50 369 6202, [email protected]