- This map tool displays a series of data layers that tell the story of the world’s ancient and endangered forests. It is the first in a series of tools that Canopy is developing that incorporate the best-available geospatial data from biodiversity conservation science to assist companies transitioning to more sustainable supply chains.
- ForestMapper was designed specifically for consumers of forest products, manufacturers of forest products and government decision makers. The user can explore the data layers by theme (Forests, Species, Carbon, Landscapes) to identify areas of high ecological value in an interactive way. The user can also zoom in and out and pan across regions to get a closer look at specific sourcing regions and data layers. Users can view several data layers at once – for example Ancient & Endangered (A&E), Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL), and Tree Loss – to better understand what is happening to forests in a particular region. The landscapes theme, focuses on ecologically important forests where Canopy has chosen to focus its work.
- This map is a tool that will assist corporate customers, brands, retailers, designers and forest product manufacturers to use best available information to identify risk and make informed purchasing decisions regarding fibre sourcing and forest products, with, best available information.
- This map identifies Ancient and Endangered forests globally, based on the document Endangered Forests: Priority High Conservation Value Forests For Protection Guidance For Corporate Commitments(known commonly as the Wye River Document), with an initial regional focus in two regions – Canada and Indonesia.
- This map is a ‘snapshot in time’. Data/science will continue to evolve and landscapes status will change over time as industrial activity, conservation decisions and other factors affect forested regions.
- Areas with documented and/or known social risk.
- Indigenous, First Nations and forest communities’ aspirations and/or territorial rights and territories.
- Areas proposed for protection or in the process of receiving protected status.
- A top down approach dictating what should happen on the land.
- A fixed or unchanging view of the state of forests. Data/science evolve and these maps will need to be updated over-time.
- A prioritization of relative importance between the areas that contain Ancient and Endangered forests globally.
- Boundaries or a description of logging concessions.
- A definition of limits of protected areas.
- The Intact Forest Landscape (IFL) is one of the data layers used as a foundation of this map. The global map of ancient and endangered forests encompasses all of the intact forests that remain on earth, with the addition of other data sets representing key ecological values such as areas with high levels of terrestrial carbon or the habitat of endangered species. The end result is a map that illustrates multiple ecological values. To see only the Intact Forest Landscapes, click just that icon on the interactive map.
- Although the term Ancient and Endangered forests could be misconstrued as meaning only old growth and natural forests, the reality is more complex. A plantation developed on high carbon stock forest soils, or a plantation developed within an area that was an endangered species forest habitat, for example, would fall under the category of Ancient and Endangered forests.
- For detailed information on this subject, go to the Ancient and Endangered forests section of ForestMapper and click on the information icon for a longer definition.
- Maps of High Conservation Value areas (HCVs), as defined by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and of intact forest landscapes (IFLs), were paired with maps of other key ecological values such as the habitat range of endangered species, or forests containing high concentrations of terrestrial carbon and High Carbon Stocks (HCS). Mapping sources include the World Resources Institute and Global Forest Watch.
- ForestMapper also identifies key Ancient and Endangered forests globally such as the Canadian and Russian Boreal Forests; Coastal Temperate Rainforests of British Columbia, Alaska and Chile; Tropical forests and peat lands of Indonesia, South East Asia, the Amazon and West Africa.
It is a point-in-time identification of areas of special concern, high carbon values and endangered species habitat, for which data was readily available. More detailed data is provided for Canada and Indonesia, and more generalized data was presented at the global scale for other countries based on credible available global data layers.
- A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science concluded that between 2000 and 2013, the world lost an area of forest equal to 68,000 soccer fields every day. That’s 50 soccer fields worth of forests per minute, or one every 1.2 seconds.
- Ancient and Endangered forests are critical to sustaining biodiversity, ensuring species survival, maintaining community livelihoods and culture and helping to stabilize the global climate. Quality conservation planning is needed to identify those forests that will be able to support sustainable forestry once sufficient forest is conserved or restored to maintain full forest functions in each region.
- There is a pressing need for the global forest industry, forest product suppliers and forest product purchasers to identify Ancient and Endangered forests around the world and avoid sourcing from these areas.
- Thousands of consumer companies are advancing sustainability initiatives and/or forest procurement policies and need support and information, such as these maps, for implementation of these commitments.
- The global ancient and endangered forest map was developed by Canopy under the guidance of Peter Lee (former Executive Director of Global Forest Watch Canada) with significant input by Dr. Jim Strittholt (President and Executive Director of the Conservation Biology Institute). Greenpeace International and The World Resources Institute provided review comments to the mapping methodology.
- This project was funded through a combination of philanthropic sources and key brand partners. Philanthropic partners, such as C&A Foundation, supported Canopy’s time and resources whilst H&M, Inditex, Stella McCartney, EILEEN FISHER, Marks & Spencer and Kering directly covered external expenses associated with the data layers, GIS expertise and app developers. These brands were all interested in having a tool for the robust implementation of their policies.
Thousands of companies have corporate sustainability policies in place and want to do the right thing. To date, there has been no comprehensive global map to enable companies to clearly identify ancient and endangered forest areas. By helping to identify these forests, the map will play a critical role in bringing conservation science into the boardrooms of some of the world’s largest corporate consumers of forest products. In turn, this knowledge will inform more sustainable purchasing practices, support companies in assessing their supply chains, and enable suppliers to avoid forests at risk in future sourcing and business expansion decisions.
- This map is not a proposal for protected areas, but rather a tool that highlights ecologically rich areas where conservation planning should occur prior to the authorization of any industrial projects that would lead to degradation of forests that should be prioritized for conservation (including impacted landscapes where restoration may be needed such as some plantations currently on deep peat soils in endangered species habitat).
- Suppliers operating in, or sourcing from, forests identified as ancient and endangered, can urge governments to undertake robust conservation planning, then actively engage in such planning alongside other relevant stakeholders such as civil society, scientists and communities, with a commitment to securing scientifically supported levels of protection for endangered forest ecosystems.
- As has been demonstrated in Ancient and Endangered forests such as Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, collaboratively developed conservation outcomes mitigate conflict and lead to greater business certainty and long term stability for the forest supply sector and its customers.
- ForestMapper is a tool providing a baseline overview of global Ancient and Endangered forests. Local and regional planning processes will enrich this work by identifying unique areas of rare ecosystem types, threatened species habitat, and regions of cultural and traditional importance to indigenous, traditional and local communities at a finer scale during the conservation planning process to establish areas prioritized for well managed forestry, for protection or other land use designations and rules.
Governmental decision makers can:
- Support and facilitate voluntary moratoria by forestry companies and/or forest products manufacturers.
- Lead the development of landscape level conservation planning that uses best available science and enfranchises local stakeholders.
- Legislate extensive protected area networks and improved forest practices.
- Support better municipal recycling of wood, paper and fabrics.
- Support the development of next generation solutions that carry lighter ecological footprints, such as products made with agricultural residue fibers, recycled paper, recycled clothing.
- No. Forest Mapper displays data layers for key ecological elements that constitute the definition of Ancient and Endangered forests at the global scale. It does not feature socio-cultural information such as indigenous or traditional community rights, territories, land-conflicts or the human cost of forest loss or fragmentation. These elements exist in different forms across thousands and thousands of traditional territories.
- ForestMapper does not document areas of controversy or harm stemming from violations of indigenous and traditional rights, human rights, or the other human costs of forest loss or fragmentation (including loss of livelihoods, food insecurity, forced cultural assimilation, etc.) In addition to ecological criteria, sustainable forest sourcing should incorporate key social safeguards including, but not limited to, respecting and upholding the traditional land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, ensuring Free, Prior and Informed Consent is given for all development activities, ensuring the transparent and mutually agreed resolution of grievances and ensuring an absence of criminalization/retribution. There are many communities and NGO’s that work specifically to advance these important issues.Canopy urges governments to tackle science-based conservation planning in the world’s remaining Ancient and Endangered forests and ensure that planning incorporates the rights, values, traditional ecological knowledge and interests of traditional and indigenous communities.
- The forest carbon density layer includes carbon which is aboveground while the soil carbon density layer, covers belowground carbon.
- Many studies show the importance of forest carbon density in the fight against climate change. Old-growth forests are an example of this. Forests that have never been cleared or transformed by humans may be called ancient forest, primary forest, or primeval forest. Old-growth forests are a subset of ancient and endangered forests that have been free of disturbance (natural or human) long enough to achieve old forest structure (there are different age thresholds and forest structure criteria for different forest types). It was once thought that young, rapidly growing trees absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than old growth. But recent research published in scientific journals such as Nature has confirmed that carbon uptake actually increases with the tree’s size, which confirms that old trees found in old growth forests are very important for climate change mitigation. Greater age and size means more leaf area, which equates to greater carbon absorption and storage.
- Forest soils, including treed peatlands in the Boreal, for example, are also critically important storehouses of massive amounts of carbon. In fact, logging ancient and endangered and old growth forests releases carbon stored in the soil or peat, significantly adding to the carbon burden in the atmosphere.
Smaller tracts of Ancient and Endangered forests still remain in Western Europe and while not of the scale of large intact forest landscapes, they are nonetheless of vital importance to local communities, livelihoods, species-at-risk, carbon absorption and may represent rare ecosystem types.
Canada and Indonesia are two of the largest forest sourcing regions in the world with significant intact forest landscapes, unique forest types and threatened forest dependent species at high risk. In light of this priority was given to those forests in this first version of the map. Other regions will be mapped in more detail in future iterations of the tool.
Some plantations may be captured in the Ancient and Endangered forest layer. This is because at least one of the many ecological values that are part of the Ancient and Endangered forest definition is found in the region. For example, in Indonesia, up to thirty vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered bird species are found in vast areas of Sumatra Island, where plantations are widely present.
A significant portion of the world’s forests have been highly degraded and are in urgent need of conservation or restoration. However, Canopy believes that priority should first be given to avoiding sourcing that could lead to further deforestation and degradation where natural forests are still standing or where carbon-rich peatlands exist. In highly degraded or high carbon plantation areas, all existing HCV and HCS areas should be protected, and areas identified for restoration to natural forests.
Primary forests can be found across a range of spatial scales from Intact Forest Landscapes (unbroken expanse greater than 50,000 ha in area; Potapov et al. 2008) to remnant patches within otherwise degraded forest. ForestMapper does not include data on primary forests because there is no GIS layer with global extent.
A dataset on Indonesia’s primary forests was utilized as part of the ancient and endangered forest layer for general and important context information. While primary forests have not been identified here per se, the majority of primary forests are included within forests identified through other ecological values such as Intact Forest Landscapes.
Primary forests have been defined in international policy as forest that has never been logged and has developed following natural disturbances and under natural processes, regardless of its age (CBD 2009, FAO 2009). This definition includes forests that are the customary lands of indigenous and local communities living traditional lifestyles. Primary forest therefore have been largely undisturbed by industrial-scale land use, including commercial logging, and their vegetation structure and composition are dominantly the result of natural evolutionary and ecological processes.
The term ‘primary’ is important scientifically because following natural disturbances forests pass through successional changes dominated by tree species with different traits leading to an ecologically mature phase. Typically, fast growing and shorter-lived tree species dominate disturbed sites, followed by slower growing longer-lived species at maturity. Terms such as ‘unlogged,’ ‘undisturbed,’ ‘intact,’ ‘natural,’ ‘frontier,’ ‘ancient,’ ‘virgin,’ and ‘old growth’ have been used interchangeably with primary (Mackey et al. 2015). Due to the impacts of human land use and infrastructure, especially roads, the natural distribution of many primary forests has been fragmented and significantly reduced in extent.
A new global map of primary forest areas is being generated as part of the Primary Forest & Climate Change research project led by the Griffith University Climate Change Response Program
Yes, southern and northern mountain caribou range is one of the data sets included in the composite Ancient and Endangered Forests layer. Mountain caribou are one of the most endangered mammals in North America, and have been subject to legal action under Canada’s species at risk Act. Their habitat continues to be severely threatened by industrial resource extraction and development projects.
Canopy urges extreme caution when sourcing from areas of mountain caribou habitat.
ForestMapper is based on rigorous science. The data layers comprising ForestMapper and the definition of Ancient and Endangered forests have both been peer reviewed. The methodology that was used to develop ForestMapper was defined by leading scientists and various organizations, including the World Resources Institute and Greenpeace International, who offered review comments.
In this iteration of ForestMapper, Canada’s Boreal, and coastal temperate rainforest as well as Indonesia’s rainforest were given special attention. Canopy will add additional and updated data layers to ForestMapper for other ecologically important regions of the world in the future as well as update the tool with the most recent layers available.