Bold targets are needed to stop forest loss or more than 230 million hectares of forest could disappear by 2050, according to a new WWF report.
The first chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, released today, examines the drivers of deforestation and identifies the opportunities to shift from business as usual to a new model of sustainability, which can benefit government, business and communities.
Based on a new global analysis showing rates of forest loss by 2050 using four scenarios, the report proposes that policymakers and businesses unite around a goal of zero net deforestation and forest degradation (ZNDD) by 2020 as a groundbreaking global benchmark to avoid dangerous climate change and curb biodiversity loss.
“Real action needs to be taken now. We are squandering to the detriment not only of nature but also of business and the communities that live there,” said Mark Wright, WWF-UK’s conservation science advisor
The first chapter of the report comes as business and political leaders meet this week in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the Business 4 Environment Global Summit (B4E).
Growing population, growing pressure
The report concludes that maintaining near zero forest loss in the longer term will require responses to rising pressures on forests due to demand for food, materials and fuel for a growing population, expected to hit 9 billion people by 2050.
To understand what this would mean in practice, WWF developed the Living Forests Model with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), which forms the basis for the Living Forests Report.
The Living Forests Model projects that by “doing nothing” we could lose more than 230 million hectares between now and 2050.
At the summit, WWF will call on forestry companies to join the organization’s Global Forest and Trade Network, and also on other business sectors to support our work towards increasing certification of key global commodities, such as timber and palm oil, by 2020.
Borneo – a case study
Borneo will be presented as a case study since more than 40% of the island’s forests are under concession to the private sector, with around 23% (6 million hectares) under management by the forestry industry.
Zero net deforestation and forest degradation by 2020 means no overall loss of natural forest area or forest quality, so a new monoculture plantation does not offset the loss of pristine rainforest. The target requires the loss of natural or semi-natural forest to be reduced to near zero, down from the current 13 million hectares a year, and held at that level indefinitely.
Mark Wright added: “Better governance with policy and economic incentives will enable sound stewardship of forests and more productive use of already degraded land. This would ensure enough farming land, timber plantations and well-managed forests to meet current global demand for wood and food without further forest loss.”