E C O S Y S T E M S          &      E C O N O M I E S                 O      N T    H   E   E D G E

                                 WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE
                                  FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
                                         DATA COLLABORATORS:
Major Findings                                              1
Board of Directors                                          2
World Resources Institute                                   3
Acknowledgments                                             4
Foreword                                                    5
Introduction                                                6
Why Do Frontier Forests Matter?                             7
What Do We Know About the World's Forests?                  9
WRI's Frontier Forests Assessment                          10
Falling Frontiers                                          12
Today's Threats                                            15
Destruction's Roots                                        17
The Frontier Forest Index                                  19
Regional Overviews                                         22
The Closing Frontier: A Call to Action                     34
Technical Annex                                            37
Notes                                                      41

Box 1: Definitions Used in This Study                      11
Box 2: Frontier Forest Myths                               14
Box 3: Different Ways of Ranking Countries                 18
Box 4: Restoring Frontier Forest: the Guanacaste Example   34
Box 5: A New Vision of Frontier Forest Stewardship         35
Box 6: Plan Piloto: Sustainable Forest Development         36
Basemap data from ArcWorld. Assistance in data preparation, mapping, and analysis provided by $& World Wildlife Fund & 1 § World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Data sources i.) Forest cover data provided by World Conservation Monitoring Centre, ii.) Frontier forests data derived through expert assessment and from other sources.
                                                                                                                                                                            FRONTIER FORESTS   8,000 YEARS AGO   FRONTIER FORESTS TODAY:                            [~|   CURRENT NON-FRONTIER FORESTS:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 large, intact natural forest ecosystems that are         secondary forest, plantations, degraded forest,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 relatively undisturbed and large enough to               and patches of primary forest not meeting this
                               W O R L D RESOURCES        INSTITUTE                  FOREST F R O N T I E R S I N I T I A T I V E                                                                                maintain all of their biodiversity.                      study's criteria as frontier.
E C O S Y S T E M S        &      E C O N O M I E S                  O     NT H E E D G E


                                     A Contribution to the
                                    Forest Frontiers Initiative

                                  CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:
                               NIGEL SIZER, MARTA MIRANDA,
                                PAIGE BROWN, NELS JOHNSON,
                             ANDREW MALK AND KENTON MILLER


                               WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE
                                 FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
                                       DATA COLLABORATORS:
                                                  Publications Director

                                                    Hyacinth Billings
                                                  Production Manager

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                                    Papyrus Design & Marketing, Washington, DC

       Each World Resources Institute report represents a timely, scholarly treatment of a subject of public concern.
 WRI takes responsibility for choosing the study topics and guaranteeing its authors and researchers freedom of inquiry.
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Unless otherwise stated, however, all the interpretation and findings set forth in WRI publications are those of the authors.

                                 Copyright © 1997 World Resources Institute. All rights reserved.
                                                       ISBN 1-56973-198-5
                                         Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 97-060277
                                    Printed in the United States of America on Recycled Paper.

          Almost half of Earth's original forest cover is gone, much of
          it destroyed within the past three decades.

          Today, just one fifth of the world's original forest cover
          remains in large tracts of relatively undisturbed forest -
          what WRI calls frontierforest

          Three countries - Russia, Canada, and Brazil - house
          almost 70 percent of the world's remaining frontier forest.

          40 percent of forest on Earth today qualifies asfrontierforest.

          Seventy-six countries assessed in this study have lost all of
          their frontier forest.

          39 percent of Earth's remaining frontier forest is
          threatened by logging, agricultural clearing, and other
          human activity.

          Only 3 percent of the world's frontier forest falls entirely
          within the temperate zone (regions characterized by
          moderate climate, including much of the U.S and Europe).
          Today, temperate forests are the most endangered frontier
          forests of all.

          Half of today's frontier forest lies in boreal regions within
          Canada, Russia, and Alaska - inhospitable northern zones
          between temperate forest and tundra.

          Outside of boreal regions, about 75 percent of the world's
          frontier forest is threatened.

          Eleven countries - including Finland, Sweden, Vietnam,
          Guatemala and Thailand - are on the verge of losing their
          frontier forest. These countries maintain less than 5 percent
          of their original forest as frontier, and all of it is threatened.


Maurice F. Strong   John H. Adams                      Jane Lubchenco                     Jonathan Lash
Chairman                                                                                  President
                     Manuel Arango                      C. Payne Lucas
John Firor           Robert 0. Blake                   Robert S. McNamara                 J. AlanBrewster
Vice Chairman                                                                             Senior Vice President
                     Derek Bok                         Scott McVay
                     BertBolin                         William F. Martin                  Walter V. Reid
                    Robert N. Burt                     Matthew Nimetz                     Vice President for Program
                     David T.Buzzelli                  Paulo Nogueira-Neto                Donna W Wise
                    Michael R. Deland                  Ronald L. Olson                    Vice President for Policy Affairs
                     Sylvia A. Earle                   Ruth Patrick                       Robert Repetto
                    Alice F. Emerson                   Florence T. Robinson               Vice President and Senior Economist
                    Shinji Fukukawa                    Roger WSant                        Thomas H. Fox
                    William M.Haney, III               Stephan Schmidheiny                Vice President
                    Cynthia R. Helms                   Bruce Smart                        Marjorie Beane
                    Calestousjuma                      James Gustave Speth                Secretary-Treasurer
                    Yolanda Kakabadse                  Mostafa K. Tolba
                    Jonathan Lash                      Alvaro Umana
                    Jeffrey T. Leeds                   Victor L. Urquidi
                    Thomas E. Lovejoy                  Pieter Winsemius

W O R L D RESOURCES                           INSTITUTE

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DATA COLLABORATORS:                           Oceania                                        Europe and Russia:                             Reviewers:
World Conservation Monitoring                 (including PNG):                               Dmitry Aksenov and staff (Biodiversity         We would like to thank the following people
Centre, and World Wildlife Fund - US          Bruce Beehler (U.S. State Deptartment);        Conservation Center); Dr. Isaev Alecsander     who, in addition to the individuals named,
Conservation Science Program.                                                                (Yakut Institute of Biology); David Gordon     provided valuable review comments and
                                              Christopher Bragg (Department of
                                              Primary Industries-QFS); Gary Hartshorn        (Pacific Environment & Resources Center);      other input at various stages of this project:
REGIONAL DATA                                 (Organization for Tropical Studies); Don       Roger Olsson (Naturinformation Ab); Risto      Janis Alcorn, Mark Aldrich, Kim Awbrey,
                                              Henry (World Wildlife Fund); John Herbert      Paivinen and staff (European Forest            Victoria Berry, Clare Billington, Susan
                                              (New Zealand Forest Research Institute);       Institute); Anatoli Shvidenko                  Braatz, Louis Carbonnier, Domenick
Conservation International (Latin                                                                                                           Dellasala, Eric Dinerstein, Yves Dube, Nigel
                                              Jamie Kirkpatrick (University of               (International Institute for Applied Systems
America), and the Pacific Environment                                                                                                       Dudley, Lorene Flaming, Jerry Franklin,
                                              Tasmania); Kathy MacKinnon (The World          Analysis); lisa Tracy (Pacific Environment
Resources Centre (Russia).                                                                                                                  Mark Graham, David Harcharik, Rudolf
                                              Bank); Dennis Neilson; Dr John Nelder          & Resources Center); Boris Voronov
                                              (Queensland Herbarium); Stewart Noble          (Institute for Water and Ecological            Heinrich, Jurgen Hoth, Sue Iremonger,
EXPERTS W H O HELPED W R I                    (Environmental Resources Information           Problems).                                     Klaus Janz, Val Kapos, Andrei Laletin,
                                              Network); Evan Shield, Tony Whitten (The                                                      Jean-Paul Lanly, Claude Leger,
                                              World Bank); Jann Williams (Centre for         North and Central                              Massimiliano Lorenzi, Richard Luxmoore,
                                              Plant Biodiversity Research); John                                                            Michael McCloskey, Jeff McNeely, Norman
Africa:                                                                                      America:                                       Myers, David Olson, Jean Poitevin, Peter
                                              Woinarski (Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conrad Aveling (ECOFAC); Joerg Balsiger;                                                     Liz Barratt-Brown (Natural Resources
                                              of the Northern Territory).                                                                   Raven, Kent Redford, Heather Rosmarin,
Bryan Corran; Lee Hannah (Conservation                                                       Defense Council); Jean- Frangois Bergeron
                                                                                                                                            Nick Salafsky, Jaime Salazar, Andre
International); John Hart (Wildlife                                                          (Ministere des Ressources Naturelles,
                                                                                                                                            Savoie, Jeff Sayer, Peter Schlesinger, K.D.
Conservation Society); Illonga Itoua (World   South America:                                 Gouvernement du Quebec); Dan Bullock
                                                                                                                                            Singh, Bruce Stein, Tom Stone, Fred
Wildlife Fund); Robert Kasisi; Dr. Nadine     Jose Marcio Ay res (IBAMA); Aaron              (Manitoba Natural Resources); Chuck Carr
                                                                                                                                            Swartzendruber, Frances Sullivan, and
Laporte (University of Maryland); Jean        Cavieres; Thomas Defler (Caparu                (Wildlife Conservation Society); James
                                                                                                                                            Derek Thompson. Within WRI we would
Lejolly (Departement de Biologie Vegetale     Biological Station); Louise Emmons (The        Cayford (The Canadian Institute of
                                                                                                                                            like to express our gratitude to Chip
Universite Libre de Bruxelles); Michel F.     Smithsonian Institution); Philip Fearnside     Forestry); Rex Crawford (The Nature
                                                                                                                                            Barber, Alan Brewster, Jake Brunner,
Massart (NASA Landsat Pathfinder              (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da            Conservancy); Barry Davidson (Wildlife
                                                                                                                                            Bruce Cabarle, Allen Hammond, Jonathan
Program/Central Africa); Aissitou Ndinga      Amazonia); Gustavo Fonseca                     Habitat Canada); Bob Demulder (Forest
                                                                                                                                            Lash, Mary Paden, Walter Reid, Leslie
(IUCN); Simon Rietburgen (The World           (Conservation International); Robin Foster     Inventory Development Group); Louise
                                                                                                                                            Roberts, Eric Rodenburg, Kirk Talbott,
Bank); Nicodene Tchamou (IITA); David         (Field Museum of Natural History);             Emmons (The Smithsonian Institution);
                                                                                                                                            Peter Veit and Deanna Wolfire.
Wilkie (Biodiversity Support Program).        Rodolfo H. Gajardo Michell (Universidad        Robin Foster (Field Museum of Natural
                                              de Chile); Gary Hartshorn (Organization        History); Tim Grey (Wildlands League);
                                              for Tropical Studies); Otto Huber (Instituto   Randy Hagenstein (The Nature                   Researchers:
Asia:                                         Botanico); Rod Mast (Conservation              Conservancy); Mark Heathcott (Parks            Steve Walters and Changhua Wu helped
Michael Green (World Conservation             International); Russ Mittermeier               Canada); Harry Hirvonen (Environment           immensely throughout the initial stages of
Monitoring Centre); Xiaojun Li (The           (Conservation International); Silvio           Canada); Vicky Husband (Sierra Club BC);       this report. We are indebted to them for
Nature Conservancy); Kathy MacKinnon          Olivieri (Conservation International);         Laura Jackson (Protected Areas                 their invaluable assistance.
(The World Bank); John MacKinnon;             Enrique Ortiz (Conservation                    Association); Deborah Jensen (The Nature
Dennis Neilson; Evan Shield; Chris            International); Claudio Padua (University      Conservancy); Kevin Kavanagh (World
Wemmer (Conservation and Research             of Brazil); Carlos Peres (Universidade de      Wildlife Fund - Canada); Andy MacKinnon
Center); Tony Whitten (The World Bank);       Sao Paulo); Anthony Rylands                    (BC Forest Service); Elizabeth May (Sierra
Eric Wikramanayake (World Wildlife            (Conservation International); Jaime Salzar     Club Canada); Reed Noss (Oregon State
Fund).                                        (Fundacion Inguede); Stephan                   University); Chris O'Brien (Ecology North);
                                              Schwartzman (Environmental Defense             George Powell; Chris Shank (Wildlife
                                              Fund); Wouter Veening (Netherlands             Management Division, Government of the
                                              Committee for IUCN).                           Northwest Territories); Jorge Soberon
                                                                                             Mainero (Comision para el Conocimiento
                                                                                             y Uso de la Biodiversidad); Amanda Will
                                                                                             (Protected Areas Association); Tim Wilson
                                                                                             (Conservation Mapping); Dr. Ken
                                                                                             Winterberger (U.S. Forest Service); Terje
                                                                                             Void (BC Forest Service); Gaile Whelan
                                                                                             Enns (World Wildlife Fund Canada); Steve
                                                                                             Zoltai (Canadian Forest Service).

                                              WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                           FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

         he word "frontier" con-             Road building and other                 Using a geographic infor-                 We must act quickly.
         jures up notions of new      infrastructure development, often       mation system, WRI has developed          Transnational logging companies
         challenges, of new lands,    accompanying logging, mining,           a single global database and a            are already operating in Siberia
or new intellectual endeavors ripe    or other large investments, are         preliminary series of regional            and Canada and rapidly expanding
for human exploitation and devel-     also proceeding quickly. Once the       maps depicting the world's frontier       operations into South America, the
opment. If a frontier is out there,   way is paved, population pressure       forests - both first of their kinds. In   Caribbean Rim, and Central
people will not be far behind.        and landlessness in some parts of       the coming years, WRI will update         Africa. Within the next five years,
      The frontier vision often saw   the world, especially developing        and improve these maps and get            many pending and proposed
trees as a commodity at best or       countries, can prompt migration         their obvious message to the              contracts will be signed, and the
simply an obstacle in the way of      into frontier regions and rapid         world's decision-makers.                  leverage of governments and non-
progress. Over many centuries,        deforestation by small land hold-              This report is the opening         governmental organizations will
about half of the world's forests -   ers and large land speculators.         salvo of WRI's Forest Frontiers           be greatly diminished.
almost 3 billion hectares - were             There are better ways to use,    Initiative, a five-year, multi-                  At the same time, mainstream
burned, cleared, or cut down. Just    manage and preserve forests. The        disciplinary effort to promote            industry and investors are increas-
one fifth of the world's original     reach of human ingenuity extends        stewardship in and around the             ingly open to change. There is a
forest cover remains in large         to the stewardship of trees, but at     world's last major frontier forests       significant opportunity to increase
undisturbed tracts today, and the     the frontiers the destruction           by influencing investment, policy,        market demand for "green" timber.
cutting has accelerated: about 16     continues.                              and public opinion.                       WRI is already a backer of the
million hectares are cut or burned           This report describes for the           For each forest frontier           Forest Stewardship Council, the
each year. In the course of this      first time the location and status of   region - in Amazonia, Central             first international organization
devastation, we are losing species    the world's frontier forests - the      Africa, Asia, North America, and          created to evaluate, accredit, and
and a valuable cornucopia of          large, ecologically intact, and rel-    Russia - WRI is building a                monitor organizations that certify-
resources, altering the               atively undisturbed natural forests     network of policy-makers, activists,      sustainably produced forest prod-
atmosphere's composition and          that still remain. Working with         investors, and researchers to             ucts. Meanwhile, many developing
brutally degrading ecosystems.        several partners, including the         promote alternatives to forest            countries are searching for practical
                                      World Conservation Monitoring           destruction that take advantage of        policy alternatives to destructive
                                      Centre, the World Wildlife Fund,        the full economic potential of            timber harvest agreements.
                                      and 90 forest experts, WRI devel-       forests, not just immediate                      We are deeply grateful to the
                                      oped a first map of frontier forest     revenue from logging and forest           AVINA Group and the Netherlands
                                      areas, assembling in one place          clearing. As part of this effort,         Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their
                                      unprecedented location-specific         WRI will help build the capacity of       general support for the Forest
                                      information on current and future       local organizations to carry on           Frontiers Initiative and to the
                                      threats to forest integrity.            this work independently.                  Wallace Global Fund for supporting
                                                                                     The business community is          this project.
                                                                              an important partner in this effort.
                                                                              We are working with others to
                                                                              develop case studies with innova-              Jonathan Lash
                                                                              tive firms to demonstrate the busi-            President
                                                                              ness impacts and opportunities                 World Resources Institute
                                                                              that sustainability presents.

                                      W O R L D RESOURCES    INSTITUTE            FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

B         y now, most people who
          read a newspaper or
          watch television know
that deforestation is a serious
problem, particularly in the
                                                                                                                           We believe it is time to
                                                                                                                     replace this outdated thinking
                                                                                                                     with a concept of frontier that is
                                                                                                                     based on stewardship - taking
                                                                                                                     responsibility for the forest and
tropics. This World Resources              Hidden behind familiar statistics is an equally sober- ensuring that its riches will be
Institute (WRI) analysis shows                        ing reality. Oftheforests that do remain                       available for future generations.
that we have lost almost half—               standing, the vast majority are no more than small                      Good stewardship may mean
almost 3 billion hectares - of the                                                                                   complete protection of some
forests that once blanketed the                or highly disturbed pieces ofthefully functioning                     frontier forests combined with
earth. Every year at least 16 mil-                             ecosystems they once were.                            careful management of portions
lion additional hectares fall to the                                                                                 of others for both timber and
ax, torch, bulldozer, or chain saw. u                                                                                non-timber products.
       Hidden behind such familiar      forgotten, of course. They are the    generate and maintain the                     The change must happen
statistics, however, is another,        last refuge for some of the world's   biodiversity upon which we all         soon:   over the coming years,
equally sobering reality. Of the        most endangered species and they      rely. Frontier forests also contribute citizens, policy-makers, industry
forests that do remain standing,        provide important economic            a large portion of the ecological      leaders,  and others have a chance
the vast majority are no more           products and environmental            services - such as watershed           to decide  the fate of the world's
than small or highly disturbed          services. Yet, they may have lost     protection and climate                 last frontier forests. The key
pieces of the M y functioning           their ability to sustain themselves   stabilization - that make the          decisions  before  us are windows
ecosystems they once were. These        in the long term. To support their    planet habitable. And they are         of opportunity   that  may never
modified forests should not be          full complement of plant and          home to many of the world's            open   again.
                                        animal inhabitants, fragmented        remaining indigenous peoples.
                                        forests will probably need regular           Keeping Earth's last frontier
                                        interventions by resource             forests will require a fundamental
                                        managers.                             shift in how we view them. From
                                              In contrast, frontier forests - the American Wild West of the
                                        large, ecologically intact, and rela- 1800s to Russia's Far East and the
                                        tively undisturbed natural forests -  South American Amazon today,
                                        are likely to survive indefinitely    frontiers have been seen as
                                        without human assistance. (See        limitless providers of land, timber,
                                        Box 1 and the Technical               gold, wildlife, and other sources
                                        Annex.) Within these forests,         of wealth. Careless and wasteful,
                                        natural ecological and evolutionary   a typical frontier economy mines
                                        processes will continue to            the forest for a quick profit and
                                                                              moves on.

                                        WORLD   RESOURCES    INSTITUTE             FOREST FRONTIERS    INITIATIVE

A         s large, intact ecosys-                   Fragmented forests, on the                               Secure habitats for indige-                    More than safe houses for
          tems, frontier forests dif-         other hand, are probably too                            nous species, frontier forests are             genes and species under siege,
           fer fundamentally from             small to support their full com-                        invaluable refuges for global biodi-           frontier forests maintain complex
the fragmented or otherwise                   plement of species in the coming                        versity. Between 50 and 90 percent             and inimitable ecological com-
modified forests that dominate the            centuries.6 Smaller tracts are                          of all terrestrial species inhabit the         munities and processes. Vast and
landscape today. For one thing,               also vulnerable to processes                            world's forests,9 and many of                  undisturbed, they give free play to
frontier forests are large enough             beyond their borders. In the                            them are threatened by extinc-                 nature and to such natural events
to provide a safe haven for all of            United States, for example, the                         tion, primarily because of habitat             as wildfires and seed dispersal by
their indigenous species. To                  nests of songbirds in small forest                      loss. (See Figure 1) By main-                  large herbivores, both of which
ensure long-term survival, far-               patches are under heavy attack by                       taining these last strongholds we              determine the composition and
ranging animals such as grizzly               cowbirds, bluejays, raccoons, and                       protect the biodiversity within                distribution of species. Such nat-
bears, harpy eagles, and wolves               other animals that thrive along                         them and provide a source for                  ural processes create unique habi-
need blocks of natural habitat                forest edges.7 Many non-frontier                        recolonizing non-frontier and                  tats, including ancient stands of
thousands, if not tens of                     forests also lack the natural fea-                      restored forests with native                   "old-growth" forest.
thousands, of square kilometers in            tures that native species rely on:                      species. Beyond its obvious intrin-
        3A5                                   In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, the                      sic value, biodiversity supplies
                                              spotted owl and marbled murrelet                        humans with food, medicines,
                                              - birds that depend on large,                           and many other staples needed to
                                              standing dead trees typically                           survive and make a living.
                                              found in old-growth forests - are
                                              threatened by logging of these

              Percent of the world's endangered animal species threatened by the loss of forest and other natural habitat


                                    Source: IUCN Species Survival Commission, 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals (IUCN, 1996, Gland), p. 36.

                                             WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                            7         FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
All forests help maintain the          More recently, erosion since
                                       environmental conditions that          1950 due to deforestation is respon-
                                       make life possible, from regional      sible for the loss of 580 million
                                       hydrologic cycles to global cli-       hectares of fertile land worldwide,
  // is time to replace out-           mate. But huge frontiers are par-      an area bigger than all of Western          Frontier forests are
                                       ticularly important. Frontier forest   Europe.12 Loss of large forested
   dated thinking with a               ecosystems store tremendous            watersheds is blamed for heavier
                                                                                                                         invaluable refugesfor
  concept of frontier that             amounts of carbon, for example -       flooding in India's Ganges Valley,          global biodiversity.
          is based on                  approximately 433 billion tonnes,      and government losses of $1 bil-
                                       or more than all carbon that will      lion a year in property damage.13
         stewardship.                  be released from fossil fuel burn-     By carefully managing what's left              A legacy inherited from our
                                       ing and cement manufacture over        of the world's frontier forests, we     ancestors, Earth's last frontier
                                       the next 69 years, at current glob-    can dramatically reduce such            forests may indeed be the most
      As large, intact ecosystems      al emission rates.10 Without these     environmental side effects and          valuable gift we can leave for our
governed by nature, frontier forests   forests, this carbon would go          costs.                                  children. Guardians of biodiversity,
provide baseline information on        straight into the atmosphere as                                                indigenous cultures, and ecological
                                                                                    Dwindling frontier forests
how such systems should work.          carbon dioxide, a powerful green-                                              processes, frontiers also provide
                                                                              are also home to many of the
Just as doctors use standard body      house gas.                                                                     recreational and ecotourism
                                                                              world's last indigenous cultures.
temperature and blood pressure to                                                                                     opportunities. Because so many
                                              Protecting and responsibly      About 50 million indigenous peo-
determine health, ecologists study                                                                                    irreplaceable forests have already
                                       managing our last frontiers today      ple live in tropical forests alone.14
natural forests to evaluate the                                                                                       disappeared, the worth to future
                                       will help countries avoid paying       Amazonian forests house at least
impact of different human inter-                                                                                      generations of those that remain is
                                       the high costs associated with         400 indigenous groups - 1 million
ventions - asking, for instance,                                                                                      greater than ever.
                                       massive forest loss and degrada-       people in all.15 Wiping out
how forest clearing might affect       tion. History abounds with exam-       indigenous cultures by transform-              Above and beyond practical
local rainfall patterns. The results   ples of civilizations that foundered   ing forests is a moral crime. And       considerations is the very real
help land managers find ways to        after deforestation led to soil ero-   when these cultures vanish, so          aesthetic and spiritual need just to
lighten the human footprint in         sion, river siltation, wood short-     does a gold mine of useful infor-       know that remote and wild places
heavily used landscapes.               ages, and other banes of               mation about the natural world.         remain on our crowded planet.
                                       agricultural and industrial produc-                                            One concrete reflection of this
                                       tivity. These doomed civilizations                                             need is the considerable sum of
                                       include ancient societies in                                                   money many people pay to visit
                                       Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean,                                                such places. But even to many
                                       and Central America."                                                          people who will never see them,
                                                                                                                      wild plants and animals, along
                                                                                                                      with the forests that house them,
                                                                                                                      have an inalienable right to exist.
                                                                                                                      Certainly, as Earth's most power-
                                                                                                                      ful species, we have a responsibil-
                                                                                                                      ity to ensure their survival.

                                       WORLD RESOURCES       INSTITUTE            FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

S         urprisingly, we know                                                                                                            cover map is far from complete.
          very little about the status                                                                                                    Many areas depicted as forested
          of the world's forests as a                                                                                                     can hardly be considered forest.
          whole. Most monitoring                                                                                                          Some are heavily degraded by
efforts are confined to individual                                                                                                        logging and other activities, while
countries, and the results often do                       People need to know that remote and wildplaces                                  others are single-species
not compute across borders.                                       remain on our crowdedplanet,                                            plantations. A rough picture of
      Sponsored by the United                                                                                                             where forests are is invaluable,
Nations (U.N.), the most compre-                                                                                                          but until WRI's assessment virtually
hensive study of the world's                                                                          The WRI map also shows              nothing was known about their
                                                        To help fill the gap, WRI asked
forests to date estimates recent                                                                 current forest cover, drawing            condition on a global scale.
                                                  the World Conservation Monitoring
deforestation, but gives no                       Centre (WCMC) to develop a map                 from an earlier WCMC map that
information on the overall                        of Earth's forest cover as it appeared         provides the most comprehensive
condition of remaining forest.16                  8,000 years ago. The result repre-             image of total forest cover today.
This U.N. study cost $4 million -                 sents thefirstdetailed attempt to              Though based on the best available
less than one eighth the amount                   show what the world's original                 data, the WCMC current forest
U.S. citizens spend each day on                   forest cover looked like before
newspapers. 17'18                                 humans began transforming it.

                                                                                                                             Total Area in Original, Current and Frontier Forest

                                                                              TOTAL REMAINING                                                      FRONTIER        FRONTIER
                                                                                   FOREST                TOTAL                                      FOREST          FOREST
                                                                               (FRONTIER A N D         REMAINING              TOTAL                 AS A %          AS A %
                                                      ORIGINAL                 NON-FRONTIER           AS A % OF              FRONTIER              OF TOTAL        OF TOTAL
                                                        FOREST                    FOREST)              ORIGINAL               FOREST               ORIGINAL       REMAINING
REGION                                                (OOO KM2)                  (OOO KM2)               FOREST             (000 KM2)               FOREST          FOREST

Africa                                                       6,799                      2,302              34%                     527                  8%             23%
Asia                                                        15,132                      4,275              28%                     844                  6%             20%
North & Central America                                     12,656                      9,453              75%                   3,909                 31%             41%
 Central America                                             1,779                        970              55%                     172                 10%             18%
 North America                                              10,877                      8,483              78%                   3,737                 34%             44%
South America                                                9,736                      6,800              70%                   4,439                 46%             65%
Russia & Europe                                             16,449                      9,604              58%                   3,463                 21%             36%
 Europe                                                      4,690                       1,521             32%                      14                0.3%              1%
 Russia                                                     11,759                      8,083              69%                   3,448                 29%             43%
Oceania (i)                                                   1,431                       929              65%                     319                 22%             34%

World                                                       62,203                     33,363                                    13,501               22%

Notes:   (0 Oceania consists of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand

                                                  WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                          FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

                            M              ost of the tremendous
                                           amount of informa-
                                           tion on individual
                             forests that exists is scattered far
                             and wide and buried within the
                                                                                Experts also supplied infor-
                                                                         mation on the status of frontiers
                                                                         they identified - if and how these
                                                                         forests are endangered by devel-
                                                                         opment. They also answered our
 Most information on                                                                                            WRFs maps provide
                             walls of isolated institutions.             queries about future threats, spec-
forests is scattered far     Much of it lives only in the minds          ifying whether frontiers were in         thefirst realistic
 and wide and buried         of biologists and foresters who are         timber concessions or housed          picture ofthe location
                             experts on a single forest region.          such high-value resources as             and status ofthe
   within the walls of              Working with several                 timber, oil, or gold.
  isolated institutions.     partners - including WCMC and                      Using a geographic informa-    world's frontier forests.
Much lives only in the       the World Wildlife Fund -WRI                tion system,20 WRI combined all
                             wove together some of this                  of these site-specific data into a
   minds ofbiologists        diverse data, knowledge, and                single global database and a series
 and foresters who are       expertise. First we developed a             of regional maps. (See Maps 2-7.)
                             preliminary map of "candidate               Far from perfect, these maps
   experts on a single
                             frontier forests" - large forested          nonetheless provide the first real-
     forest region.          areas with few roads or modern              istic picture of the location and
                             settlements - and sent it to 90             status of the world's frontier
                             forest experts around the world.            forests. In the coming months and
                             Using criteria WRI developed, ten           years, WRI will work with partners
                             to fifteen experts for each region          around the globe to update and
                             commented on proposed frontier              improve the maps as more infor-
                             areas - confirming sites as fron-           mation becomes available and to
                             tier forests, rejecting sites, or           get them to decision-makers in
                             redrawing their shape and                   whose hands the fate of frontier
                             boundaries. (See Box 1) 19                  forests rests.

                            WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE               10       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
                                         D E F I N I T I O N S U S ED IN T H I S S T U D Y
                                       4. Its structure and composition           LOW-THREAT POTENTIALLY               ORIGINAL FOREST is that
world's remaining large intact         are determined mainly by natural           VULNERABLE FRONTIER                  estimated to have covered the
natural forest ecosystems. These       events, though limited human               FORESTS are those not now            planet about 8,000 years ago,
forests are - on the whole -           disturbance by traditional                 considered under enough              before large-scale disturbance
relatively undisturbed and big         activities of the sort that have           pressure to degrade ecosystems.      by modern society began.
enough to maintain all of their        shaped forests for thousands of            But because they are unprotected
biodiversity, including viable         years - such as low-density                and contain valuable natural               A note about the data:
populations of the wide-ranging        shifting cultivation - is accept-          resources, or because human           This study's results
species associated with each forest    able. As such, it remains rela-            encroachment is likely, most of       represent estimates of the
type. As defined in this assess-       tively unmanaged by humans,                these forests are vulnerable to       extent and location of
ment, a frontier forest must           and natural disturbances (such             future degradation and               frontier forests as well as
meet seven criteria:                   as fire) are permitted to shape            destruction.                          threats to their survival
                                       much of the forest.                                                              Incomplete information
 1. It is primarily forested.          5. In forests where patches of             NON-FRONTIER FORESTS                 from some parts of the
2. It is big enough to support         trees of different ages would              are dominated by secondary            world and difficulties
viable populations of all              naturally occur, the landscape             forests, plantations, degraded        estimating the magnitude
indigenous species associated          exhibits this type of                      forest, and patches of primary        of threats make the data
with that forest type - measured       heterogeneity.                             forest that do not meet this          suitable onlyfor regional
by the forest's ability to support     6. It is dominated by indigenous           study's frontier criteria (even       comparisons and for
wide-ranging animal species            tree species.                              though some might be restored         distinguishing major
(such as elephants, harpy              7. It is home to most, if not all,         as frontier forest). This category    differences among
eagles, or brown bears).               of the other plant and animal              includes some of the world's          countries forests. This
3. It is large enough to keep          species that typically live in this        most unique, valuable, and            study did not assess
these species' populations viable      type of forest.                            endangered forest types, includ-      woodland areas of the
even in the face of the natural                                                   ing the biologically rich, highly     world, orforests within
disasters - such as hurricanes,        THREATENED FRONTIER                        fragmented forests of Madagascar      many island countries.
fires, and pest or disease out-        FORESTS are forests where                  and Central Europe's last stands      (See Technical Annex)
breaks - that might occur there        ongoing or planned human                   of old-growth forest. Such
in a century.                          activities (such as logging,               forests are high priorities for
                                       agricultural clearing, and                 conservation. Non-frontier
                                       mining) will eventually degrade            forests are also important
                                       the ecosystem (through, for                because they provide us with a
                                       example, declines in or local              wide range of economic goods
                                       extinctions of plants and animals          and services.
                                       or large-scale changes in the
                                       forest's age and structure).


                                      WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE              11       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

 N           early half - 46 percent
             - o f the world's forest
             has been converted to
farms, pastures, and other uses
over the past 80 centuries. While
                                               Temperate forests, on the
                                        other hand, are the most heavily
                                        fragmented and disturbed of all
                                        forest types. This study concludes
                                        that just 3 percent of today's fron-
                                                                                          Thanks to their favorable
                                                                                    climate and fertile soils, temperate
                                                                                    forests were the first to be cleared
                                                                                    wholesale by humans. By 1000
                                                                                    B.C., most of eastern China's                According to this
just over half remains, most of it      tier forests are temperate stands           forests had been converted to
has been heavily altered by people      (another 5 percent contains both            farmland.21 More than 2,000
and bears little resemblance to         temperate and either boreal or              years ago, the Greeks and                   22 percent of Earth's
pristine forest. According to this      tropical frontier forest). Thriving         Romans destroyed much of the                   original forest
assessment just 22 percent of           in a moderate climate, pristine             forest that rimmed the
Earth's original forest remains in      temperate forests once extended             Mediterranean.22'23 Today, the
                                                                                                                                 remains in large,
large, relatively natural ecosystems.   throughout most of Europe, much             frontier forests of the Middle East          relatively natural
(See Figure 2.)                         of China and the continental                and Mediterranean Basin are                     ecosystems.
        Of the remaining frontier       United States, as well as parts of          completely gone. Western
forest that is left, nearly half is     Canada, Australia, New Zealand,             Europe's frontier forests were
boreal forest. (See Figure 3J A         Chile, and Argentina.                       leveled during the Middle Ages as
broad belt of primarily coniferous                                                  new cities and towns spread
trees, boreal forests lie between                                                   throughout the region.24
arctic tundra to the north and
warmer, temperate forests to the
south. They blanket much of
Alaska, Canada, Russia, and
       For two reasons, boreal
forests have been less disturbed
than have other forest types. First,                                                            What Happened to the Forests That Once Covered the Earth?
long winters, poor soils, and other
factors make farming difficult, so
little forest has been converted to
agriculture. Second, boreal trees,
particularly in northern areas,
tend to be slow-growing,
scrawny, and widely dispersed.
So until modern technology,
increasing wood demand and
other factors changed the picture,
commercial loggers traditionally
had little incentive to exploit
boreal forests.

                                                     RUSSIA &            ASIA             NORTH &             SOUTH           AFRICA              OCEANIA
                                                      EUROPE                           CENTRAL AMERICA       AMERICA

                                                                FRONTIER FOREST                   NON-FRONTIER FOREST                   CLEARED

                                        WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE              12       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
Temperate forests of the                                                                                                      Worldwide, most frontier
Americas, Australia, and New                                                                                                 forests are now restricted to scat-
Zealand were opened relatively                                                                                               tered, widely dispersed pockets,
recently - over the past few cen-                                                                                            many located in inaccessible
                                                                                                                             mountains or swamps. Europe -
turies - by European explorers           The lion's share oftoday'sfrontier forests - more than
and settlers. Although indigenous                                                                                            which has already lost two thirds
peoples had long lived in and
                                             75 percent-is located in just three large tracts                                of its historical forest cover -
shaped these forests, newcomers                     covering parts ofseven countries.                                        maintains only a few small patches
wrought far more dramatic                                                                                                    of frontier forest totalling less than
changes. (See Box 2.) Even so,                                                                                               1 percent of the original, all in
almost all of the world's remain-           Until this century, tropical               Millions more hectares have           Sweden and Finland.
ing temperate frontier forests are    forests - located in warm regions          been degraded by logging,                         The lion's share of today's
in these three regions.               within 30 degrees of the equator -         agricultural clearing, and the              frontier forest - more than 75 per-
                                      remained largely intact. In the            removal of vegetation for                   cent - is located in just three large
                                      past few decades, however, they            fuelwood, building materials, and           tracts covering parts of seven
                                      have fallen with alarming speed.           livestock feed. In Asia and Africa,         countries: two blocks of boreal
                                      Between i960 and 1990, some 450            for example, this study found that          forest - one stretching across
                                      million hectares were cleared - a          though roughly a third of the               much of Canada and Alaska and
                                      fifth of the world's entire tropical       original forest cover remains, less         the other in Russia - and one
                                      forest cover. (See Figure 4.)              than 10 percent of this original            large relatively undisturbed chunk
                                                                                 cover still qualifies as frontier           of tropical forest spanning the
                                                                                 forest. (See Table 1)                       Northwestern Amazon Basin and
                                                                                                                              Guyana Shield.

                                                                      Temperate Frontier Forests Are the Most Endangered..

                                     PERCENT    OFTHE W O R L D ' S     FRONTIER         FORESTS


Both boreal & temperate


Both temperate & tropical

                                      WORLD RESOURCES        INSTITUTE       13        FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
Percentage of the World's Tropical Forest Cleared Between i960 and 1990


                                        a               45
                                        R E S T ULEAI


                                        ee              25

                                                        20 ;


                                                         0 -
                                                                                                                                                     Source: Singh and Marzoli, 1995

D                                                             FRONTIER FOREST MYTHS
      As places that conjure up              MYTH: Frontiers are comprised                     MYTH: Forest peoples live in               MYTH: Frontiers consist of fertile
images of vast, empty spaces,                of empty wilderness.                              Utopian harmony with nature.               land, ripe for development.
frontiers are associated with many
popular myths that contribute to            REALITY: People have lived in                      REALITY: Long before European              REALITY: In many places, frontier
their destruction. In each case, the        many forests for hundreds of                       colonization, forest peoples managed       forests remain undeveloped because
reality is far more complex. Three          generations, mostly in small                       their natural resources according to       their soils are poor and they don't
of the more common myths about              groups. Forests today house several                customary practices. Evidence              have much commercially valuable
frontier forests are:                       hundred million people in Asia                     suggests that some human cultures          timber per hectare. In many tropical
                                            alone,25 while at least 20 million                 destroyed their own forest ecosystems      forests, for instance, intensive agri-
                                            people live in the Amazon Basin.26                 through abuse, and others in tribal        cultural activity can rapidly deplete
                                            Low-level human activity over                      warfare.27'28 Today, rising                soils that need natural debris from
                                            thousands of years within these                    populations, land shortages, and           the tree canopy. Then too, forests
                                            areas has helped shape the forest                  access to sophisticated technologies       are finite, and some are inaccessible.
                                            structure and species mix in frontier              pose further management                    Forests in Amazonia and in Central
                                            ecosystems.                                        challenges for forest peoples.             Africa, for example, are rich in
                                                                                                                                          biodiversity but they often lack high
                                                                                                                                          densities of valuable timber species
                                                                                                                                          or good soils.29

                                       W O R L D RESOURCES        INSTITUTE             14         FOREST FRONTIERS I N I T I A T I V E

M            any of the frontier
             forests that have
             survived into this
century may not make it into the
next. Results from this study
                                                                                        Example of Pressures on Forests: People are Using More Paper Products

suggest that 39 percent of the
world's remaining frontiers are
threatened - that is, under             Q_

moderate or high threat - by            O
logging, agricultural clearing, and
other activities, often along the
forest edges. Many frontier forests
not yet threatened - particularly
those in the tropics - are still
vulnerable because they contain
valuable timber, oil, or minerals.
      Most of the safest frontier
forests are in the far north, where             50
resource-extraction costs are
high. Taking these forests out of
the global calculus changes it sig-
nificantly: outside Russia and
Canada, three quarters of the                    0
                                                       1961 1964 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991                                                                    1994
world's frontier forests - includ-                                                               Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1996. Food For All.
ing virtually all temperate forest                                                                                                    Address on World Wide Web: .
frontiers - are at risk.
      The most important threats                                INDUSTRIALIZED
                                                                COUNTRIES                                                                                   COUNTRIES
to frontier forests are described
• LOGGING: This study                  logging offsets the cost of road-           •   ENERGY DEVELOPMENT,                             forest and disrupts freshwater
suggests that commercial logging       building to extract the timber,             MINING, AND NEW                                     ecosystems. These operations also
poses by far the greatest danger to    which in turn opens forests to              INFRASTRUCTURE:         Large-scale                 take up forest land and spew
frontier forests. In all six regions   hunting, fuelwood gathering, and            mining and exploration for petro-                   pollution into the environment.
assessed, WRI's advisors cited         clearing for agriculture. Widely            leum and natural gas also bring                     Energy development, mining,
logging as the predominate threat      considered the primary cause of             new roads and settlements that                      and the roads, pipelines, and
to forests - affecting more than 70    tropical deforestation (when fron-          open once-inaccessible forests to                   settlements that come with it
percent of the world's threatened      tier and non-frontier forest are            other human activities. Damming                     represent the second biggest
frontiers. (See Table 2.) Logging      taken together), agricultural               rivers for hydroelectric power                      threat to frontier forests globally,
can significantly "rewrite" the        clearing, in particular, is hastened        floods millions of hectares of                      affecting close to 40 percent of all
structure and composition of           once loggers open forests up.30'31                                                              frontiers classified as under
forests. Yet, some of its most                                                                                                         moderate or high threat.
negative effects are indirect:

                                       WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE              15       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
AGRICULTURE: One fifth of the                                                                          Wood Consumption Projected to Increase by 56% by 2010
world's threatened frontiers are
directly endangered by farmers                2,500
who clear forest for cropland and
pasture. Land clearing is particu-
larly rapacious in Asia, Africa,
and Latin America. This threat
can only grow as population
increases. For the record, results
from WRI's study suggest that             5 1,500
non-frontier forests - often criss-
crossed by roads and easily acces-                                                                      1993
sible - are under much greater
pressure from farmers than are
frontier forests.

REMOVAL: Apart from logging                     500
and outright clearing, humans
are removing millions of tons of
vegetation from frontier forests,
pulling at the fabric of these                                                                    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 1996. Food For All.
                                                                                                                                       Address on World Wide Web: .
ecosystems. WRI found that
about 14 percent of the world's                                                                                                           In most cases, frontier forests
                                      •   OVERHUNTING: As eCOSyS                •   OTHER THREATS: On a
threatened frontiers are being                                                                                                      are endangered by more than one
degraded by overgrazing or the        terns, frontier forests comprise          smaller scale, other activities also
                                      more than just trees. Local               endanger frontier forests. They                     of these threats. One future threat
overcollection of firewood, build-                                                                                                  not covered in this study is the
ing materials, and other vegeta-      extinctions of animal species can         range from the obvious - forest
                                      affect the integrity of the entire        conversion to, say, tree planta-                    potential impact of global warming
tion. Besides damaging terrestrial                                                                                                  on forest ecosystems. Native
habitats, excessive vegetation        forest. Many species - including          tions or ski resorts - to the not so
                                      elephants in Africa and beaver in         obvious. Among the latter are                       species that can't adapt or migrate
removal causes the rivers and                                                                                                       to new habitats quickly enough
streams that run through these        North America - distribute tree           forest managers who suppress
                                      seeds and otherwise shape forest          natural fires which help shape                      could die out rapidly as climate
forests to silt up.                                                                                                                 changes and new diseases, pest
                                      structure. In Africa, one third of        many frontier ecosystems, far-off
                                      the forest frontier which is              factories that emit wind-borne                      infestations, and natural distur-
                                      threatened is at risk through             pollutants harmful to trees, and                    bances increase as a result.32
                                      commercial hunting, driven                exotic animal species introduced
                                      largely by urban demand for               either accidentally or deliberately
                                      bushmeat.                                 by people who don't know or
                                                                                don't care that the newcomers
                                                                                can outcompete native plants and
                                                                                animals for scarce resources. (In
                                                                                New Zealand, our advisors con-
                                                                                cluded that introduced and feral
                                                                                species - domestic species gone
                                                                                wild - pose the single greatest
                                                                                danger to frontier forests.)

                                      WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE            16       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

                                                           L       ike symptoms of disease,
                                                                   visible threats to forests are
                                                                   often best treated by
                                                            addressing their underlying causes.
                                                            Behind the obvious activities
                                                                                                                       • GROWING ECONOMIES
                                                                                                                       AND CONSUMPTION: Even in
                                                                                                                       parts of the world where popula-
                                                                                                                       tion is not growing significantly,
                                                                                                                       demand for certain forest
                                                                                                                                                                                  • POPULATION GROWTH
                                                                                                                                                                                  AND DEMAND FOR NEW
                                                                                                                                                                                  LAND: Just since 1950, the
                                                                                                                                                                                  world's population has more than
                                                                                                                                                                                  doubled.33 As a result, in many
       governments and                                      endangering the world's frontier                           resources - for both local and                             regions, forests have been cleared
                                                            forests are a nest of interrelated                         export markets - is intensifying                           to grow food and to make way for
    industry reap the profits                               root causes:                                                                                                          new settlements. Population
                                                                                                                        as economies expand. Between
     whilefrontier peoples                                                                                             1961 and 1994, per capita                                  growth also drives up demand for
    receive only a sliver of                                                                                           consumption of paper increased                             timber, paper, fuelwood, and
                                                                                                                       by 86 percent globally and by 350                          other products from an ever-
     the benefits but bear                                                                                             percent in developing countries.                           shrinking forest base.
      the environmental                                                                                                (See Figure 5.) Industrialized
         brunt of forest                                                                                               countries still use more than 10
                                                                                                                       times as much paper per person
       mismanagement                                                                                                   than people in developing regions
                                                                                                                       do. Global consumption of indus-
                                                                                                                       trial wood products is expected to
                                                                                                                       jump by more than 50 percent by
                                                                                                                              . (See Figure 6.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Threats to Frontier Forests

                                                                                                PERCENT             OF      THREATENED                  FOREST            FRONTIERS                AT      RISK         FROM:

                                                           PERCENT OF                                                           MINING,
                                                         FRONTIER FOREST                                                          ROADS                                                      EXCESSIVE
                                                         UNDER MODERATE                                                       A N D OTHER                    AGRICULTURAL                   VEGETATION
REGION                                                  OR H I G H THREAT (i)                   LOGGING                     INFRASTRUCTURE                     CLEARING                      REMOVAL               OTHER (ii)

Africa                                                                      77                               79                         12                                  17                         8                   41
Asia                                                                       60                                50                         10                                  20                         9                   24
North & Central America                                                    29                                83                         27                                   3                         1                   14
 Central America                                                            87                               54                         17                                  23                        29                   13
 North America                                                              26                               84                         27                                   2                         0                   14
South America                                                               54                               69                         53                                  32                        14                     5
Russia & Europe                                                             19                               86                         51                                   4                        29                   18
 Europe                                                                   100                                80                          0                                   0                        20                    0
 Russia                                                                    19                                86                         51                                   4                        29                   18
Oceania (iii)                                                               76                               42                         25                                  15                        38                   27

World                                                                       39                               72                         38                                  20                        14                   13
N o t e s : (i) Frontier forests considered under immediate threat, as a percent of all frontier forest assessed for threat. Threatened frontier forests are places where ongoing or planned human activities are likely, if con-
tinued over coming decades, to result in the significant loss of natural qualities associated with all or part of these areas (for example, causing declines in, or local extinctions of, wildlife and plant populations, or large-
scale changes in the age and structure of these forests).

           (ii) "Other" includes such activities as overhunting, introduction of harmful exotic species, isolation of smaller frontier forest 'islands' through development of surrounding lands, changes in fire regimes and
plantation establishment.

           (iii) Oceania consists of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

See Technical Annex.

                                                           WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                              17         FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
•   BAD ECONOMIC POLICIES:                                                                                                    •   POVERTY AND
 In weighing land-management
                                        El                           DIFFER EIMT W A Y S
                                                                                                                              LANDLESSNESS In Brazil,
options, economists and policy-                                   OF RANKIIMG COUNTRIES                                       Guatemala, and elsewhere, the
makers often overlook the costs of                WRI's Forest Frontiers Index                                                poor flock to frontier forests in
                                                                                        exceptional biodiversity value
losing frontier forest. Such costs                                                                                            search of agricultural land and
                                           speaks volumes about the coun-               (based on the large numbers of
may come in the form of soil
                                           tries' opportunities to protect fron-        plant species estimated to be         other economic opportunities.
erosion, the loss of water for
                                           tier forests and about the immedi-           found within them).                   Rather than grapple with such
agriculture, and release of carbon
                                           acy of threats to these frontiers.                 One important story -           politically thorny issues as land
into the atmosphere. Lost oppor-
                                           Alternative methods for ranking              beyond the scope of this assess-      redistribution and tenure,
tunities should count too,
                                           countries tell different stories.            ment - would be to rank countries     governments often encourage the
including foregone income from
                                           Table 4, for example, identifies             according to the amount of
ecotourism, "bio-prospecting",                                                                                                clearing of forest lands poorly
                                           the 12 countries with the largest            threatened forest lying outside
and other lucrative uses of whole                                                                                             suited to agriculture. In Brazil, for
                                           area of frontier forest. All told,           frontiers. Such an index would be
and healthy forests. Even logging,                                                                                            example, migrants have had to
                                           these countries account for 90               useful for identifying countries
mining and other exploitative                                                                                                 clear forest to establish land
                                           percent of what remains on                   where unique forest ecosystems
uses often don't bring in the                                                                                                 ownership, a "don't think twice"
                                           Earth. Table 5 lists countries with          are on the verge of extinction.
revenues they could: trying to                                                                                                policy that spawned more defor-
                                           frontier forest likely to be of
attract foreign investors, many
                                                                                                                              estation and discouraged settlers
national governments all but give
                                                                                                                              from managing frontiers for their
away valuable rights to exploit
their forests. Such economic            • SHORT-SIGHTED                                 • CORRUPTION AND
                                                                                                                              forest products.39
decisions are common because            POLITICAL DECISIONS: In much                    ILLEGAL TRADE: Corruption
the costs of destruction are not felt   of the world, frontier forests are              among officials in government,
or paid by those doing the dam-         sacrificed for short-term political             industry, and other organizations
age. Frequently, governments and        gain - to appease interest groups               often hastens frontier forest loss.
industry reap the profits while         or to line the pockets of politicians           In Cambodia, for example, the
frontier peoples receive only a         and their allies. In endangered                 military takes part in a thriving
sliver of the benefits but bear the     U.S. and Canadian old-growth                    illegal timber trade with neigh-
environmental brunt of forest           forests, for example, governments               boring Thailand.34 In Burma, the
mismanagement.                          allow logging to provide question-              government and rebel groups
                                        able job security for a very small              have both financed a decades-
                                        number of people who may soon                   long civil war with illegal logging
                                        be sidelined by technological and               proceeds.35 In Alaska, Malaysia,
                                        market changes within the indus-                Suriname, and elsewhere, timber
                                        try anyway. In tropical countries               companies have been accused of
                                        such as Brazil, Indonesia, and                  engaging in timber smuggling,
                                        Malaysia, decision-makers attack                trying to bribe government
                                        poverty by moving millions of                   officials to procure lucrative
                                        people to the forest frontier, even             concessions, and other illegal
                                        though this approach is only a                  practices.36'37 Even demand for
                                        temporary fix for the poor and                  illegal drugs fuels forest destruc-
                                        can permanently destroy the                     tion: in Colombia, for example,
                                        forests.                                        clearings are carved out of remote
                                                                                        frontier forests to grow coca,
                                                                                        marijuana, and opium poppies.38

                                        WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                  18       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE

W              RI's Frontier Forest
               Index shows that
               most of the world's
nations have already lost, or
might soon lose, their last frontier
                                               Another 11 countries -
                                        including Nigeria, Thailand,
                                        Sweden, Finland and Guatemala -
                                        are classified as on the edge. They
                                        have at most 5 percent of their
                                                                                         Only seven countries -
                                                                                    Brazil, Suriname, Guyana,
                                                                                    Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, and
                                                                                    Russia - and one Overseas
                                                                                    Department of France (French
                                                                                                                                Even in these eight places,
                                                                                                                          some frontiers are under siege. In
                                                                                                                          Canada, two thirds of British
                                                                                                                          Columbia's temperate coastal
                                                                                                                          rainforest - one of Earth's biologi-
forests. (See Table 3.) The index       original frontier left, and it is           Guiana), still have a large           cally richest temperate ecosystems
ranks countries according to the        threatened. While core areas of             proportion of their original forest   - has been degraded by logging
percentage of frontier forest lost      these isolated frontiers may be             cover remaining in an unthreat-       or other development, and much
and to the proportion of remain-        protected in parks or reserves,             ened state. These nations have        of what remains intact outside
ing frontier that is moderately or      logging and other activities out-           great opportunities to sustain        protected areas is slated for
highly threatened - in other            side (and sometimes inside)                 large areas of frontier forest if     logging in coming years. **
words, high-scoring countries           protected areas threaten the                they begin to follow stewardship      International timber companies
have lost much of their frontier,       ecosystems as a whole. Unless               principles now. (See Box 5J           have been trying to negotiate
and most of what remains is             these countries act immediately,                                                  contracts to log much of the
threatened.                             they are likely to lose most of the                                               remaining Amazon and Guyana
       Seventy-six countries have       little frontier they have left.                                                   Shieldfrontier- including one
lost it all. These include almost all          In 28 countries, there is not                                              third of Suriname's forests.41
of the countries of Europe and          much time to protect remaining                                                    Decisions made within the next
Eastern Africa and all of North         frontier forests. Most of these                                                   few years will decide the fate of
Africa and the Middle East. For         nations have lost most of their                                                   frontier forests within these
these countries, forest restoration     original frontier, and much of the                                                countries.
should be a priority. (See Box 4.)      remainder is threatened. These
                                        countries include the United States
                                        (which, if not for Alaska's vast
                                        boreal forest, would rank among
                                        countries "on the edge"), Papua
                                        New Guinea, Malaysia, Panama,
                                        Mexico, Argentina, India, and

                                        WORLD RESOURCES        INSTITUTE       19       FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
Frontier Forest Index

                                                           PERCENT OF                                      PERCENT OF                                             FRONTIER FOREST
                                                      ORIGINAL FRONTIER                                CURRENT FRONTIER                                                  INDEX
COUNTRY                                                   FOREST LOST                                 FOREST THREATENED                                       ( 9 9 = WORST POSSIBLE SCORE)

LOST IT ALL (These countries have lost all oftheirfrontier forest. Restoration should be a priority.)

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Byelarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea,
Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Democratic People's Republic of Korea,
Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Moldova, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines,
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan,
Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia (former), Zambia, Zimbabwe.

O N THE EDGE (Unless they act immediately, these countries risk losing much of their remaining frontier forest)
Nigeria                                                                                                        100                                                        99
Finland                                                        99                                              100
Vietnam                                                                                                        100
Laos                                                                                                           100
Guatemala                                                                                                      100
Cote d'lvoire                                                                                                  100
Taiwan                                                                                                         100
                                                               9                                                                                                          9
Bangladesh                                                                                                     100
Central African Republic                                       96                                              100                                                        96
Thailand                                                       95                                              100                                                        95
NOT MUCH Time (Frontierforest in these countries will continue tofall without further action.)
Argentina                                                      94                         100                                                                             94
New Zealand                                                    91                         100                                                                             91
China                                                                                                                                                                     91
Costa Rica                                                                                 93                                                                             90
Cambodia                                         90                                       100                                                                             90
Cameroon                                         92                                       100                                                                             90
Brunei                                                                                     97
Honduras                                                                                  100
United States                                    94                                       100                                                                             79
Nicaragua                                        78                                        85                                                                             78
Bhutan                                           76                                       100                                                                             76
Mexico                                           92                                       100                                                                             71
Gabon                                                                                      77                                                                             68
Sri Lanka                                                                                 100                                                                             67
Panama                                           65                                        76                                                                             65
Ecuador                                          63                                       100                                                                             63
Zaire                                            84                                        99                                                                             59
India                                            99                                        70                                                                             56
Bolivia                                          56                                        57                                                                             55
Burma                                            94                                        97                                                                             52
Australia                                        82                                        56                                                                             52
Papua New Guinea                                 60                                        63                                                                             50
Congo                                            71                                                                                                                       46
Belize                                           65                                        84                                                                             43
Malaysia                                         85                                        65                                                                             41
Peru                                             43                                        66                                                                             41
Indonesia                                        72                                        48                                                                             39
Chile                                            45                                        95                                                                             35
GREAT OPPORTUNITY (Given careful stewardship, these countries have a real chance to keep most oftheir original frontier forest.)
Brazil                                                         58                                                                                                          28
Venezuela                                                      41                                               37                                                         15
Russia                                                         71                                               19                                                         13
Colombia                                                       64                                               19                                                         12
Canada                                                         42                                               21                                                          8
Guyana                                                         18                                               41                                                          7
Suriname                                                                                                        22                                                          2
French Guiana                                                                                                    0                                                          0

                                                WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE                    20        FOREST FRONTIERS INITIATIVE
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