Practical implementation of the IFL concept
The concept of an intact forest landscape is a useful tool for making, implementation, and monitoring of policy in the realms of sustainable forest management, conservation and climate, as shown by the following examples.
Forest degradation can be assessed through IFL monitoring
The distinction between intact and non-intact forest landscapes can be used to account for losses of carbon from forest degradation, as proposed by Mollicone et al. (2007). The global IFL map provides a geographically explicit baseline with several advantages:
- it provides a globally consistent and highly detailed snapshot of the ecological integrity of the world's forest biomes at the beginning of the new millennium (approximately year 2000);
- the method that was used to create the map can easily be adapted into a monitoring method that uses high spatial resolution satellite images;
- its high precision and fine scale make it a meaningful baseline for assessment of small-scale disturbances that can be detected by remotely sensed data.
Nature conservation strategies can be formulated using IFL maps
Conservation of large IFLs is a robust and cost-effective way to protect biodiversity and maintain ecological integrity and should therefore be an important component of a global conservation strategy. The remoteness and large size of these areas provide the best guarantee for their continued intactness. Withdrawing remaining intact areas from the production base would lead to small or negligible economic loss.
Russian NGOs have, for example, used IFL maps to argue that the most valuable of the remaining intact natural landscapes of Northern European Russia and Far East be preserved, and to propose several new national parks: Kutsa and Hibiny (Murmansk Region), Kalevalsky (Karelia Republic) and Onezhskoye Pomorye (Arkhangelsk Region).
Sustainable forest management can be underpinned by IFL maps
Several boreal countries are using the IFL concept in the context of forest certification. One of the categories of High Conservation Value Forest used by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC 2004) is analogous to that of IFLs. The formulation used in the Canadian and Russian national FSC standards - globally, nationally, or regionally significant forest landscapes, un-fragmented by permanent infrastructure and of a size to maintain viable populations of most species (ref) -calls for IFL maps for implementation. IFLs are directly mentioned among other categories of High Conservation Value Forest in the FSC Controlled Wood standard (FSC 2006).
Several forest products retailers have committed not to use wood from IFLs unless intactness values are preserved, e.g., IKEA (2005) and Lowe's (2008), or to invest only in companies that maintain such values, e.g., Bank of America (2008). The companies use regional IFL maps to implement these policies.
Read more about IFL practical implementation in scientific research and in nature conservation practice.
Mollicone D., Achard F., Federici S., Eva H.D., Grassi G., Belward A., Raes F., Seufert G., Stibig H.-J., Matteucci G., Schulze E.-D. (2007) An incentive mechanism for reducing emissions from conversion of intact and non-intact forests. Climatic Change 83:477-493