Endangered Forests


The Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry seeks to: “end the use of wood fiber that threatens endangered forests and other high conservation value ecosystems.”

What are Endangered Forests?

Endangered forests include remaining wilderness forests, which are sometimes called frontier forests; core forest habitat of species requiring special attention; representative regions of biological diversity (that is, the full range of different ecosystem types), endemism and high species diversity; and rare ecosystem types. Rare forest ecosystems exist at different spatial scales; some forests, such as temperate rainforests, are rare at the global level, while others are rare at more local levels, such as tropical cloud forests in the Americas (ForestEthics et al.). Some forests, such as the Appalachian and mixed mesophytic forests of the southeastern United States, are being made rare and vulnerable through human activities, including paper industry activities. Industrial development in endangered forests, including harvesting for paper, irreparably damages the forest’s ecological values.

Endangered forests occur in most forested regions of the world, though their extent varies widely. For example, one major type of endangered forest, the world’s intact or wilderness forests, are concentrated in just a few countries. According to Greenpeace, “only fourteen countries, including Canada, Brazil, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia control 92 percent of the world’s remaining Intact Forest Landscapes.” The World Resources Institute found similar forest regions using different methodology in its groundbreaking study, “The Last Frontier Forests: Ecosystems and Economies on the Edge” (Bryant, Nielsen and Tangley). Greenpeace estimates that less than 8 percent of these forests have formal protection. While both the Greenpeace and World Resources Institute studies were groundbreaking in delineating large areas of endangered forests, neither accounts for other significant regions of endangered forests outside these wilderness regions.

There is a great deal of work to do to ensure these forests are protected from industrial development. High conservation value forests (HCVF) a designation that is more inclusive than endangered forests often require less strict conservation regimes than endangered forests,but still require careful management and protection for the exceptional benefits they provide. The High Conservation Value Resource Network (www.hcvf.org) describes high conservation value areas as natural habitats where inherent conservation values, which “could include the presence of rare or endemic species, sacred sites, or resources harvested by local residents…are considered to be of outstanding significance or critical importance.” The paper industry is active in areas that have been defined as endangered and high conservation value forests, and many of its logging activities are threatening the values those forests provide. The industry must work more actively with the full range of stakeholders and with the companies that supply them with tree fiber to ensure increased protection of these forests and values.