© naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF

Living Forests Report

WWF’s Living Forests Report is part of an ongoing conversation with partners, policymakers, and business about how to protect, conserve, sustainably use, and govern the world’s forests in the 21st century.

The series explains the reasons for, and implications of an ambitious forest conservation target: Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD) by 2020.

The latest chapter in the series, Saving Forests at Risk, identifies where most deforestation is likely between 2010 and 2030: these are the deforestation fronts where efforts to halt deforestation must be concentrated. The chapter also provides compelling examples of solutions for reversing the projected trends in these deforestation fronts.

Manuel Pulgar Vidal, Peru's Minister of the Environment and current President of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
"WWF's analysis of global deforestation trends highlights where we can expect to witness the loss of forests in the coming decades, and what will cause this. While this highlights big challenges, it also identifies a huge opportunity to help combat climate change through further domestic and global action on forests, particularly as part of a new climate regime to be agreed in Paris this year."

Skip Krasny, Manager of Sustainable Forestry Programs at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a member of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and participant in WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network:
“The WWF report shows us that actions by companies to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains is crucial in tackling forest loss and its impending consequences. Concerted action by companies across multiple commodities, along with improved governance and collaboration with NGOs, is crucial to achieve the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020, as outlined in the Consumer Goods Forum resolution.”

What is the Living Forests Model?

To understand what ZNDD would mean in practice, WWF developed the Living Forests Model with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The model allows us to explore various global land-use scenarios. It calculates the effect of forces such as population growth and consumer demand, and describes possible consequences on key areas such as food production, climate change, biodiversity, commodity prices and economic development. 

The Living Forests Model helps us understand the implications of certain choices, but also raises questions. As we seek answers, we must remember that models can’t account for the idiosyncrasies of real life. 

Conserving our forests is possible – and urgent.

But it won’t be easy. We face some uncomfortable choices and trade-offs, and WWF doesn’t have all the answers. 

But the questions raised in the Living Forests Report can’t be put off for another generation. The time to act is now.
Download the Living Forests Report, Chapter 1: "Forests for a Living Planet"
In the immediate future, deforestation and forest degradation could be halted while meeting global demand for food, materials, and bioenergy. Beyond 2030, maintaining ZNDD will require higher productivity across large, often sub-optimal, areas of land.

Download the Living Forests Report, Chapter 2: "Forests & Energy"
As the world’s population grows and competition for land becomes more acute,  can we produce more bioenergy and still achieve WWF’s goal of no overall loss of forest area or forest quality – Zero Net Deforestation and Forest Degradation (ZNDD)?

Download the Living Forests Report, Chapter 3: "Forests & Climate"
Reducing forest loss helps people and ecosystems by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sequestering carbon, preserving ecosystems services and maintaining intact, functioning forests that have the best chance of withstanding and adapting to climate change.

Download the Living Forests Report, Chapter 4: "Forests & Wood Products"
Can we produce more wood without destroying or degrading forests, in a world where competition for land and water is increasing? Our research suggests it’s possible, and that it could even be good for the planet. But it’s a challenge that spans the whole supply chain.

In 2000, tropical forests in our world looked about like this:

LFR11 rel=
Equatorial map showing forested areas in 2000.

If we do nothing, and carry on depleting our forests at the rate we do today, then by 2100, here's what we'd be left with:

LFR11 rel=
Equatorial map of forested area of the world in 2100 if we carried on at 2010 rates of deforestation.
Our analysis identifies 5 key issues that are crucial to achieving ZNDD and avoiding negative consequences:
  • Biodiversity: ZNDD should never be at the expense of biodiversity conservation; for example, agricultural expansion in highly biodiverse grasslands to take pressure off forests. Strategies should immediately prioritize forests with highest biodiversity, so these are not lost during the time it takes to achieve ZNDD.
  • Governance: ZNDD is only possible under good governance: forests with secure land tenure, effective laws and policies, and empowered communities whose rights are respected.
  • Market demand: much destructive forest use is encouraged by market demand, but markets can also drive better management. Incentives for high social and environmental standards in forestry and farming, and bans on trade in illegally sourced timber can help achieve this.
  • Lifestyle and consumption: crop and livestock production play a major role in forest loss. Strategies are needed to reduce food waste, meat and dairy intake, energy use and over- consumption among richer people, and to ensure poor people have the food, energy and materials they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
  • Local livelihoods: global plans must recognize local needs. ZNDD needs to be adapted nationally, regionally and locally to ensure that conservation doesn’t harm people’s welfare.

More information

  • Huma Khan

    Communications Manager, Global Forest Programme

    WWF-United States,

    +1 202 495 4686

Free eBook versions


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.

Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions
Enter Yes if you accept the terms and conditions