World's Intact Forest Landscapes

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Key Findings

  • The current extent of the world's forest zone, as defined above, is 55.9 million km2 or 37.3% of the Earth's total land area. IFL comprise 13.1 million km2 or 23.5% of the forest zone.
  • Most of the IFL consist of closed forests (64.5%), with the remainder spread over open forests and woodlands (20.5%), and non-forest ecosystems (15.0%).
    30.8 percent of the world's closed forests remain intact.
  • The vast majority of IFL are found in two biomes: Humid Tropical and Boreal forests. The lowest proportion of IFL is found in Temperate forests.
  • IFL exist in 66 of the 149 countries that together make up the forest zone. Most of the world's IFL area is concentrated in a small number of countries - 13 countries contain 90% of the total IFL area, and three of them - Canada, Russia and Brazil - alone contain 63.8% of the world's entire IFL area.
  • Less then 19% of the world's IFL area has some form of protection, but only 9.7% is strictly protected, i.e. belongs to IUCN categories I-III of protected areas. The protected proportion varies among biomes and countries. The protected portion is greatest in Temperate forests and smallest in Boreal forests, where no more than 4.4% of the IFL area is strictly protected. Among the continents, the protected proportion is smallest in Asia. Some Asian countries - China, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam - have placed little or nothing of their IFL area under protection.

Datasets used for IFL analysis:

World Database on Protected Areas: WDPA, 2007. UNEP-WCMC and IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas - December 2007.

Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: Olson et al., 2001. Terrestrial ecoregions of the World: A new map of life on Earth. BioScience 51(10): 1-6.

Vegetation Continuous Fields MODIS 500m product: Hansen et al., 2003. Global percent tree cover at a spatial resolution of 500 meters: First results of the MODIS vegetation continuous fields algorithm. Earth Interactions 7:1-15.

News & Updates

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

Mapping Team

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