Why are Ancient Forests so Important?

  • Less than 10 percent of the planet’s land area remains as intact forest landscapes. (Roadmap to Recovery: The world’s last intact forest landscape, Greenpeace, March 2006)
  • Only 20% of the world’s original ancient forests remain in tracts large enough to maintain their bio-diversity. (World Resources Institute, 1997)
  • 39% of these surviving large tracts of ancient forests are endangered by human activities, with industrial logging posing the greatest threat.
  • Seventy-six countries have already lost all their original forest cover and 11 hold on to fewer than 5%.
  • Three countries – Brazil, Canada and Russia – contain nearly 70% of all remaining frontier forests.
  • Northern Canada is home to 25% of the world’s remaining frontier/ancient forests.
  • These forests are refuges for biodiversity and are vital for the survival of plant and animal species, aboriginal cultures, and climate regulation – they store more than 430 billion metric tons of carbon.

    Photo by Andrew Wright
  • Of the world’s remaining forests, less than half are still ‘frontier forests’ or intact forests with fully functioning ecosystems. (Dirk Bryant, et al, The Last Frontier Forests: Ecosystems and Economies on the Edge, World Resources Institute, 1997, p. 9, give number as 40%, http://www.wri.org/wri/ffi/lff-eng/)
  • Globally, 71% percent of the world’s paper supply is derived from ecologically valuable, biologically diverse forests rather than from tree farms.
  • Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of wood pulp (the United States is the largest) and sells more abroad than any other country, accounting for 30% of world exports. (http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/cfs-scf/national/ what-quoi/sof/sof05/statistics_e.html)