Forests | WWF
© Adam Oswell / WWF-Thailand

Forests

We all need healthy forests. They help keep our climate stable, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, and they regulate our water supply and improves its quality. They also provide a home to more than half of all species found on land – a rich variety of life that keeps so many natural systems running.

Over 1 billion people live in and around forests, depending on them for fuel, food, medicines and building materials. And all of us use wood in our daily lives: in fact, global demand for timber products is expected to more than triple over the next three decades.

But human impacts have already led to the loss of around 40% of the world’s forests. And today, an area the size of a football pitch is still being destroyed every second. Protecting and restoring forests has never been more urgent.

'The value of forests cannot be underestimated. From carbon storage to cultural diversity, forests impact us in more ways than we can imagine'

Alistair Monument
Forest Practice Leader
@WWFLeadForests

© naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF

Death by a thousand cuts

As the world’s population grows, forests are coming under more pressure than ever.
Every year, 8.8 million hectares of forest is destroyed, making way for activities like cattle pasture, palm oil plantations, soy fields or roads. Most of this is happening in tropical regions, where there is a particularly rich variety of life.

Even larger areas are suffering from degradation – where the forest remains, but its richness and health is in decline. Threats include illegal and unsustainable logging, overharvesting of wood for fuel and charcoal, small-scale farming, hunting, forest fires, and pests and diseases.

All this threatens the survival of countless species, fuels climate change, jeopardizes people’s livelihoods and undermines the vital services that forests provide.

Nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land uses. About half of that is from deforestation and forest degradation

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© WWF-International

Seeing the wood for the trees

We want to see a world where forests are properly valued – not just for the wood they supply, but for the many other benefits they provide for people and nature. And we know it’s possible.
With better protection, forests can continue to provide a welcome home for wildlife and resources for indigenous people and local communities. And, globally, they can keep providing us all with essentials such as fresh air and clean water. With better management, we can boost timber production without damaging the local environment. And with better planning, we can produce enough food for growing populations without having to convert forests to farmland.

We can even go further, by replanting and restoring forests that have been destroyed or degraded. This can help combat climate, extend and reconnect wildlife habitats, and reduce problems like flooding and erosion.

8 out of 10 land-dwelling species and nearly 300 million people live in forests

What we’re doing

There’s never been greater support for stopping and starting to reverse the loss of forests. We aim to achieve big things over the next few years: by 2030, we’re working to end deforestation, protect or improve the management of half the world’s forests, and begin restoring forest landscapes across an area larger than India.

Of course, we can’t do this alone – so we’re working together with many partners to make things happen on a big scale. That means supporting local communities to take control of their forest resources, working with multinational businesses to ensure their supply chains are forest-friendly, influencing government climate and development plans, and encouraging investment in restoring forests.

Together, we can ensure forests continue to provide for people and nature, now and for generations to come.

Vision for forests

We aim to achieve our vision for forests by:

  • Increasing protected areas and bringing more forests under improved management.
  • Halting deforestation, particularly in deforestation fronts.
  • Restoring degraded forest landscapes.

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