World Forests (WWF)


WWF News Releases


GENEVA, Switzerland -- Only 6 percent of the 3,300 million hectares of forests left in the world today are formally protected, according to new data released on Monday by WWF-World Wide Fund For Nature as delegates from 53 countries meet in Geneva to discuss ways of halting forest destruction at the third session of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF).

The information gathered in the WWF World Forests Map, a digital overview of the Earth's remaining forest cover produced with data from over 80 countries, shows that only a very small fraction of the world's remaining forests has been set aside for conservation within protected areas such as National Parks and Nature Reserves.

"In many cases, the solutions to forest problems are obvious but governments are refusing to act. What we need is a dramatic increase in the number of legally protected forest areas as well as the controlled use of forests which fall outside the protective boundary," said Francis Sullivan, Leader of WWF's Forests for Life Campaign. "This issue must be the central theme of IPF if we are to stop the continuing degradation of the world's remaining forests."

To identify forests under threat around the world, WWF -- in collaboration with the UK-based World Conservation Monitoring Centre -- gathered national and international forest data covering the last 20 years. The subsequent integration of the information gathered allowed the resulting set of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) maps to be accurate at an scale of 1:1,000,000.

The data analyzed shows that, for example, in the Brazilian Amazon there has been a 34 percent increase in deforestation since 1992; an area equivalent to the size of Belgium has been lost. Also, countries like Cambodia, Russia and Cameroon, where large areas of forest still remain (many of them exploited by commercial loggers), have yet to establish representative networks of protected areas to ensure adequate protection for all their different types of forest.

"We now know that levels of forest protection are far below the internationally accepted minimum of 10 percent of the world's forests. With this new map, we can blow away the smokescreen which has hidden the truth about the state of the world's forests for so long," said Mr. Sullivan. "At last, people can look and see for themselves how few forests are protected and understand the need for urgent action."

WWF is making available to the public a simplified version of the World Forests Map over the Internet. This can be seen on the WWF Global Network Website (at

<*> Electronic and 35 mm colour slide reproductions of the World Forests Map are available.

<*> 35 mm colour slide reproductions of national maps are also available for the following 38 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bhutan, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada (2 maps), Denmark East Africa, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia (3 maps), Italy, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia (2 maps), Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation (3 maps), South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America (3 maps), Venezuela, Vietnam and Zambia.

<*> The World Conservation Monitoring Centre is providing support to the WWF Forest Programme in monitoring the conservation of the world's forests. This work is part of the WWF "Forests for Life" Campaign. An operational monitoring system is now being developed to monitor, compile and distribute updated information on forests, protected areas and other forest conservation measures.

Copyright 1996, The World Wide Fund For Nature

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