Environmental group WWF has released a new report projecting where the organisation believes the bulk of global deforestation is likely to occur over the next 15 years.
The analysis, published April 27, highlights eleven regions where ‘the bulk of global deforestation is projected to take place’ by 2030. The list is dominated by places in South America and Asia-Pacific — it names the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest/Gran Chaco, the Gerardo, and the Chocó-Darién in Latin America, and Borneo, Eastern Australia, the Greater Mekong, New Guinea, and Sumatra. Two regions in Africa — the Congo Basin and East Africa — are also represented.
For each region, WWF lays out specific drivers of deforestation, including logging, plantation development, small and large-scale agriculture, livestock production, charcoal and fuelwood, mining, infrastructure, and large dams. It also forecasts potential forest loss should drivers remain unchecked.
The Amazon tops the list at 23-48 million hectares of loss by 2030, according to WWF’s model. It is followed by the Greater Mekong region — V — at 15-30 million hectares; Borneo (22 million ha); Brazil’s Cerrado (15 million ha); the Congo Basin (12 million ha); East Africa (12 million ha); and the Atlantic Forest/Gran Chaco of Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina (10 million ha). Overall WWF estimates that under a business-as-usual scenario, 120-170 million hectares of forest would be lost across those regions during the time frame.
Conspicuously absent from the “top 11 list” are boreal regions, which according to data released earlier this month by Global Forest Watch have lost upward of 15 million hectares in just Canada and Russia alone in the past two years. WWF does however note “degradation” as being a threat to boreal forests. Central America, which lost nearly 3 million hectares of tree cover between 2000 and 2013, also misses the cut.
The report explores some interventions that could slow forest loss, including recognition of, and payments for, services afforded by healthy forest ecosystems, like carbon sequestration (REDD+), water provisioning, as well as less damaging approaches to industrial expansion, like better planned roads and energy projects. WWF highlights the need to work with sectors that have traditionally driven deforestation, including big commodity producers, traders, and buyers through mechanisms like deforestation-free policies, eco-certification standards, wildlife-friendly land management, and payments for ecosystem services. Finally the report notes the utility of establishing and maintaining protected areas in safeguarding places with high biodiversity and ecological significance like watersheds.
“Achieving Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation will not happen by accident,” states the report, noting WWF’s goal to achieve Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD) by 2020. “It will require a huge, collective advocacy effort, along with policy changes by governments and industry.”
“Achieving ZNDD will require a mosaic of protected and sustainably managed forests, integrated with other land uses such as farms, settlements and infrastructure,” the report continues. “Strategies to get there include: preventing the squandering of forests through achieving good governance and control of outside pressures that lead to loss and degradation; protecting and restoring the most ecologically valuable forests; introducing incentives for sound stewardship of production forests; increasing efficiency of wood use; reducing waste; and optimising other land uses to mitigate the pressure to access more land by clearing forests.”