Practical implementation of the IFL concept

The concept of an intact forest landscape is a useful tool for making, implementation, and monitoring of policy in the realms of sustainable forest management, conservation and climate, as shown by the following examples.

Forest degradation can be assessed through IFL monitoring

The distinction between intact and non-intact forest landscapes can be used to account for losses of carbon from forest degradation, as proposed by Mollicone et al. (2007). The global IFL map provides a geographically explicit baseline with several advantages:

  1. it provides a globally consistent and highly detailed snapshot of the ecological integrity of the world's forest biomes at the beginning of the new millennium (approximately year 2000);
  2. the method that was used to create the map can easily be adapted into a monitoring method that uses high spatial resolution satellite images;
  3. its high precision and fine scale make it a meaningful baseline for assessment of small-scale disturbances that can be detected by remotely sensed data.

Nature conservation strategies can be formulated using IFL maps

Conservation of large IFLs is a robust and cost-effective way to protect biodiversity and maintain ecological integrity and should therefore be an important component of a global conservation strategy. The remoteness and large size of these areas provide the best guarantee for their continued intactness. Withdrawing remaining intact areas from the production base would lead to small or negligible economic loss.

Russian NGOs have, for example, used IFL maps to argue that the most valuable of the remaining intact natural landscapes of Northern European Russia and Far East be preserved, and to propose several new national parks: Kutsa and Hibiny (Murmansk Region), Kalevalsky (Karelia Republic) and Onezhskoye Pomorye (Arkhangelsk Region).

Sustainable forest management can be underpinned by IFL maps

Several boreal countries are using the IFL concept in the context of forest certification. One of the categories of High Conservation Value Forest used by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC 2004) is analogous to that of IFLs. The formulation used in the Canadian and Russian national FSC standards - globally, nationally, or regionally significant forest landscapes, un-fragmented by permanent infrastructure and of a size to maintain viable populations of most species (ref) -calls for IFL maps for implementation. IFLs are directly mentioned among other categories of High Conservation Value Forest in the FSC Controlled Wood standard (FSC 2006).

Several forest products retailers have committed not to use wood from IFLs unless intactness values are preserved, e.g., IKEA (2005) and Lowe's (2008), or to invest only in companies that maintain such values, e.g., Bank of America (2008). The companies use regional IFL maps to implement these policies.

IFL protection campaigns

Greenpeace International "Our Disappearing Forests" campaign.

The World's IFL mapping results are used for global call for actions by international ecological organization Greenpeace. The IFL data is used to show that the world's remaining ancient forests are in crisis and that fewer intact forest landscapes than previously thought are left. Conservation of large Intact Forest Landscapes is a robust and cost-effective way to conserve biological diversity. The remoteness and large size of these areas provide the best guarantee of continued intactness. To save them, the active nature conservation campaign was started by Greenpeace globally in year 2006. Greenpeace is pressuring giant consumer companies like Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex brand tissue products, to stop destroying North America's ancient Boreal forest. The organization is also working in the heart of the Amazon, campaigning to prevent it from being cleared to grow agricultural products such as soy, and has set up a Global Forest Rescue Station in the Paradise Forests of Papua New Guinea to protect those forests from illegal logging. Greenpeace demand to establish immediate moratoria on new industrial developments are also needed in the last intact forest landscapes, as identified in the World's IFL map.

Read more:
Greenpeace International Our disappearing forests campaign page
Roadmap to Recovery: The World's Last Intact Forest Landscapes. Greenpeace, 2006. PDF (11.2 Mb)

Greenpeace Russia Forest Campaign.

The main objective for Greenpeace Russia Forest Campaign is to push for reasonable forest management profitable for the country in general and preserving nature and natural values for future generations. The IFL mapping criteria and methods were originally developed tested, and published by Greenpeace Russia (Yaroshenko et al. 2001). The regional IFL maps were important data to establish and define the extent of the IFL logging moratorium agreed between forest industry and Russian environmental groups. Greenpeace Russia with support of several regional Russian NGOs has used IFL maps to propose several new national parks: Kutsa and Hibiny (Murmansk Region), Kalevalsky (Karelia Republic) and Onezhskoye Pomorye (Arkhangelsk Region).

Read more:
Greenpeace Russia forests campaign page
Yaroshenko A., Potapov P., Turubanova S., 2002. The Last Intact Forest Landscapes of Northern European Russia. Greenpeace - Global Forest Watch, Moscow, Russia. PDF (3.5 Mb)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification Process.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has included a category of High Conservation Value Forest in its Principles and Criteria for Forest Stewardship (FSC 2004) whose definition is similar to that of intact forest landscapes: "Large landscape level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance." FSC's Principle 9 requires that "Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes that define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach." This means that intactness values must be preserved as a condition for getting certified. Some regional FSC standards, particularly the Canadian and Russian national standards, interpret this HCVF category as globally, nationally or regionally significant forest landscapes unfragmented by permanent infrastructure and of a size to maintain viable populations of most species (FSC Canada Working Group 2004, FSC BC Regional Initiative 2005, Karpachevskiy and Chuprov 2007), allowing them to use regional IFL maps for certification of forest management. In the FSC Controlled Wood standard (FSC 2006) IFL are directly mentioned among other categories of High Conservation Value Forests.

Read more:

FSC International standard. FSC principles and criteria for forest stewardship (FSC-STD-01-001).
FSC standard for company evaluation of FSC Controlled Wood (FSC-STD-40-005).
FSC Canada Working Group. 2004. National boreal standard.
FSC British Columbia Regional Initiative. 2005. Forest Stewardship Council Regional Certification Standards for British Columbia.
Karpachevskiy M. and V. Chuprov, editors. 2007. Russian national standard for FSC certification.

News & Updates

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The last frontiers of wilderness: tracking loss of Intact Forest Landscapes from 2000 to 2013

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