Why it is crucial to protect them from industrial exploitation
Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) are a very special category of forests – the very large blocks hundreds of kilometers wide of unroaded forest untouched commercial logging or farming – only one quarter the world’s remaining forests. They are essential to prevent worsening climate change; to protect the vast array of plants and animals they contain and for local communities who rely on them. Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) are irreplaceable. Much of their value, however, is being lost. Infrastructure such as roads – necessary to support the expansion of industrial logging and other large-scale activities – is fragmenting IFLs into smaller forest pieces.
Fragmentation of intact forests alters their ecology and causes biodiversity loss, such as local extinctions of tree species and the animal species that depend on them. Importantly, fragmentation is usually the initial step in opening up an intact forest landscape to further degradation and ultimately deforestation.
One of the key agents of forest loss is selective logging within an IFL, no matter how sustainable the actual logging process is, as selective logging causes fragmentation. Therefore, industrial logging in IFLs needs to stop immediately, else IFLs will lose significant areas of forest cover before they can be protected.
International UN conventions have agreed to halt the loss of biodiversity. To do this, protected forest needs to be more than double its current area by 2030. IFLs need to be a priority for protection, but these protected areas must include, in particular, community protected areas that accommodate low impact uses such as hunting and collecting. Importantly, local communities and indigenous peoples need to fully involved in the land-use planning process so it is fully participatory. Only then, will IFLs have meaningful protection from roads and commercial logging.
IFLs are essential for the Earth’s climate, biodiversity and people: their conservation is paramount.