Intact Forest Landscapes

An Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) is an unbroken expanse of natural ecosystems within the zone of current forest extent, showing no signs of significant human activity, and large enough that all native biodiversity, including viable populations of wide-ranging species, could be maintained.

The IFL concept and its technical definition were introduced to help create, implement, and monitor policies concerning the forest degradation at the regional-to-global levels. The essence of the IFL method is to use freely available medium spatial resolution satellite imagery to establish the boundaries of large undeveloped forest areas, so called Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL), and to use these boundaries as a baseline for forest degradation monitoring. Developed by a group of non-governmental environmental organizations (Greenpeace, World Resources Institute, and Transparent World), the IFL concept, mapping and monitoring algorithms have been used both in regional and global forest monitoring projects and in scientific research.

The world's IFL map is the first global assessment of large undeveloped forest areas based on medium spatial resolution satellite imagery. The extent of forest degradation (understood as a reduction in ecological integrity across a forest landscape) could be measured at the global, biome and national levels based on the distribution and proportion of IFL areas. The IFL method could be used for fast and cost-effective assessment and monitoring of forest degradation in the context of REDD+ initiative.

The significance of the IFL analysis method and map lies in its power to enable and catalyze practical conservation planning and action with regard to large undeveloped forest landscapes. Our map allows a user to determine whether a specific activity falls within or outside an IFL with a margin of error of less than 1 km. This map allows direct quantitative assessment and comparison of remaining large natural forest areas at global and national levels. The use of our maps has been mandated across the boreal regions as a condition for sustainability certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. All up-to-date IFL maps and IFL monitoring results are available online on this web-site in formats suitable for use in professional GIS as well as in freeware GIS browsers.

The IFL Mapping Team is continuing to improve the IFL base map and to provide periodically updates as new data, technologies, and more sophisticated sources of information appears. Local experts could play an important role in map improvement and update providing the latest information and comments for their regions of expertise. For this purpose, a continuous IFL map review process has been organized on the current web-site. The Open IFL tool have been designed by opensource geospatial solutions company NextGIS to make this reviewing process easy and effective by using Google Maps® API integrated with Web-based GIS and internet forum platform.

News & Updates

12.20.2012
Major IFL 2000 map update. IFL monitoring 2000-2010 results. New publications.
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Mapping Team

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