World's Intact Forest Landscapes, 2000-2020
Download the IFL map in GIS/Google Earth format
The remaining year 2020 IFL area is 11.3 million km2, which makes up only 9% of the Earth’s ice-free land area and includes 20% of the global year 2020 tree cover. The largest tracts of intact forests are found in the Amazon and Congo River basins and within the northern boreal forests. Canada, Russia, Brazil, Peru, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo host 75% of the remaining intact forests.
During the last twenty years (2000-2020) the global IFLs lost 1.5 million km2 or 12% of their area. The total area of the IFL reduction is nearly equivalent to a threefold area of Spain. Russia, Canada, Brazil, Bolivia, Indonesia, and Peru are responsible for 70% of the total IFL loss area. Out of 65 countries that host IFLs in 2020, 40 countries lost at least 10% of their IFL area since 2000. Paraguay, Solomon Islands, Laos, Nicaragua, and Equatorial Guinea are among countries that lost more than half of their IFLs.
The annual IFL loss area increased by 28% during the last 7 years (2013-2020). Russia has the highest increase of the annual IFL loss area by 140%, from 14 to 33 thousand km2 per year. Expanding industrial logging, oil and gas extraction, and gold mining are the reasons for this increase, coupled with the expansion of forest fires associated with industrial infrastructure. Brazil, where forests are intensively converted to agriculture and fragmented by timber extraction, degraded remaining IFLs 40% faster during the last 7 years. We found an increasing trend of the IFL loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, and in most tropical South American countries (Bolivia, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela). In contrast, Canada and the USA reduced their annual IFL loss rates by 29 and 47%, respectively.
With the present intact forest degradation rate, only 67% of the year 2000 IFL area will remain by the year 2050. Out of 65 IFL countries, 10 will lose their IFL completely and the area of IFL will be reduced by more than 50% in another 15 countries, including Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, and Bolivia. Given the importance of the IFLs for storing and sequestering carbon, such IFL loss will cause a dramatic reduction of the nature potential to mitigate climate change. The loss of forest wildland habitats will inevitably cause species extinction at an unprecedented level. The IFL loss will increase the vulnerability of the forest-dwelling indigenous cultures to climate change, disease, and malnutrition.
Conservation of Intact Forest Landscapes is a task of great global significance. New and existing infrastructure development, timber harvesting, and mineral resources extraction should avoid fragmentation of remaining IFLs. The Indigenous Peoples’ rights should be recognized to ensure their active contribution to the prevention of industrial degradation of remaining forest wildlands. Given that the remaining IFL area is far lower than the 30% CBD land conservation target, IFLs should be considered as a priority when existing protected area networks are revised and expanded.
Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) method is a tool to map and monitor the remaining forest wildlands globally. The method relies on publicly available satellite images and is suitable to detect most types of forest conversion and industrial fragmentation. The international IFL Mapping Team is keeping the world IFL map up to date and provides the most recent updates. The IFL maps are being used as practical tools for forest conservation and protected areas management. The IFL map had been used in the framework of Forest Stewardship Council responsible forest management certification since 2014. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recognize the importance of IFL protection and promote their conservation since 2016.