ForestMapper is a tool designed to allow the significant consumers of forest products to make more informed purchasing decisions regarding sourcing forest products, best-available mapping information.
Canopy’s description of ancient and endangered forests was used as the basis for this project.
Ancient and endangered forests are intact forest landscape mosaics, naturally rare forest types, forest types that have been made rare due to human activity, and/or other forests that are ecologically critical for the protection of biological diversity.
Ecological components of ancient and endangered forests are:
- Intact forest landscapes;
- Remnant forests and restoration cores;
- Landscape connectivity;
- Rare forest types;
- Forests of high species richness;
- Forests containing high concentrations of rare and endangered species;
- Forests of high endemism;
- Core habitat for focal species;
- Forests exhibiting rare ecological and evolutionary phenomena.
As a starting point to geographically locate ancient and endangered forests, maps of High Conservation Values (HCVs), consistent with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) definitions (HCV1-3), and of intact forest landscapes (IFL), has been used and paired with maps of other key ecological values such as the habitat range of key endangered species and forests containing high concentrations of terrestrial carbon and high carbon stocks (HCS).
What supports Canopy’s definition of Ancient and Endangered Forests
Canopy’s definition of ancient and endangered forest is taken from the Endangered Forests: Priority High Conservation Value Forests For Protection Guidance For Corporate Commitments, commonly called the Wye River document and the FSC Guidance for High Conservation Values number 1,2 and 3.
Scope of the Canopy Maps and Ancient and Endangered Forests
This is the first map, to our knowledge, to coalesce this comprehensive list of ecological components and values for identifying ancient and endangered forests.
The “green” in the ancient and endangered forests layer DOES NOT mean that all of the ecological components and values mentioned above are present.
The ancient and endangered forest layer, as presented in the maps, does not represent the areas that comprise ALL of the ecological components and values listed above. It presents the areas that have at least ONE of the components or values. This gives us the certainty that all of the potential ecologically important forests are being covered and that none of the critical areas – from an ecological standpoint – are being overlooked.
Peter Lee, Former Executive Director at Global Forest Watch, with whom we collaborated to produce the maps, has stated that choosing this methodology was a bolder approach than previous global maps, which have illustrated either a singular or a small number of important ecological components. Canopy has invested many resources in identifying the multiple layers of ecological information that need to be incorporated because we believe it is essential to have a tool that provides an accurate reflection of the available science as an input to and driver of business adaptation to avoid intense degradation of forest biodiversity and carbon sinks globally.
Implications of utilizing comprehensive science-based information
The ancient and endangered forest layer identifies a lot of “green”. With today’s ecological realities, we feel it is critical not to shy away from the scientific realities of our time, no matter how disturbing they may be. It is important to integrate this context into purchasing decisions and land-use planning, and to act intelligently to develop solutions and adapt our behaviour to avoid or reverse the negative trajectories that both our current and historical consumption decisions have resulted in. ForestMapper will also inform Canopy’s conservation priorities.
The meaning of the Ancient and Endangered Forest Layer
If the area is captured in the ancient and endangered forest layer, it means that at least one of the many ecological components or ecological values listed above is found in this region. The intact forests landscapes layer for example represents where large tracts of intact forests landscapes remained in 2013, the year when this data set was last updated at a global scale.
Can Canopy’s partner companies source from these areas?
The science, and subsequently the maps, are saying that there is risk associated with sourcing in these areas. Therefore, Canopy will work with its partner companies on securing sources of fibre that are not associated with areas that hold ecological components and ecological values that formed the map data, and to support producers operating in those areas to undertake robust conservation planning processes. Priority will be placed on those areas that have multiple of the ecological components and values present.
Most of these steps are captured in each company’s Canopy policy
The first step will be to prioritize not sourcing from intact forest landscapes (IFL) if these areas are not protected and/or do not already benefit from a conservation plan. IFLs that are already included in a forest management plan, i.e. that are slated to be harvested within the next few years, will be a priority, given that there is a very high risk that the IFL will either disappear or be fragmented.
In other areas across the globe, priorities could be allocated according to their ecological components or values. For example, Indonesian peat lands, while not part of the IFL layer, hold critically important carbon stocks. Areas where there is high conservation potential will also be identified, and prioritized.
The maps show the best and most critical remaining areas that need conservation attention. A significant portion of the world’s forests have been degraded, and much of the remaining forests are at risk and in need of conservation or restoration. Despite decades of entreaties by experts and global governance science institutions, conservation levels have not met thresholds to maintain stability of forest biodiversity and carbon stores.