Alarming new data from new reports shows that the world is off track to protect and restore forests by 2030 and failure to meet global forest targets will have catastrophic impacts for our world. WWF’s Forest Pathways 2023 report argues that if leaders and businesses keep their promises to take action, it is still possible to reverse this trend and secure a future with more thriving forests that benefit humanity and our planet.
‼️ Forest-dwelling wildlife populations have shrunk by 79% on average 🐅
RT if you want more action for Forests 🌳⏱️ pic.twitter.com/JUHsQ9Rq0H
— WWF (@WWF) October 24, 2023
Data from the new Forest Declaration Assessment shows that deforestation reached 6.6 million hectares in 2022, with primary tropical forest loss at 4.1 million hectares. An alarming 96% of global deforestation takes place in tropical regions. Tropical Asia is the only region that is close to the pathway for achieving zero gross deforestation.
WWF warns tropical forests are beginning to act as a carbon source, not a sink, under the pressures of a warming, drying and increasingly extreme climate. Widespread and increasing deforestation and degradation in the planet’s three largest tropical forest basins, the Amazon, Congo, and Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, could deliver a global climate catastrophe.
Fran Price, WWF Global Forests Lead, said:
“The world is failing forests with devastating consequences on a global scale. It is impossible to reverse nature loss, address the climate crisis and develop sustainable economies without forests. Since the global pledge to end deforestation by 2030 was made, an area of tropical forest the size of Denmark has been lost. We are at a critical juncture. Governments and businesses have a huge responsibility to set us on the right pathway. We do not need new forest goals: we need uncompromising ambition, speed and accountability to fulfill the goals that have already been set. It is time to step up.”
The Forest Pathways report shows that globally, at least 100 times more public funding goes to environmentally harmful subsidies than to finance for forests. The Forest Declaration Assessment reveals that globally, only US $2.2 billion in public funds are channeled to forests every year — a negligible fraction compared to other global investments.
Indigenous Peoples and local communities receive a small fraction of the finance they need to secure their rights and effectively manage their territories, even though where tropical forests are under their stewardship, forests are better protected and deforestation and degradation are lower.
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The reports come ahead of the Three Basins Summit (26-28 October), which presents an important opportunity for governments to present a robust, action-oriented agenda that demonstrates accountability and transparency, in the timeframe that is needed to meet the scale of urgency.
This includes increasing and channeling finance in a transparent and equitable way to high-integrity tropical forests, and for governments and businesses to get back on track, make good on their public commitments to halting forest loss, protecting, sustainably managing and restoring forests and to start making continuous and meaningful annual progress towards global forest goals.
In addition to calling for financial promises to be met, the WWF Forest Pathways 2023 report sets out a blueprint to save forests by 2030, with essential measures, including:
Ending forest-harming investments and subsidies such as agricultural subsidies responsible for the loss of 2.2 million hectares of forest per year
Reforming the rules of global trade that harm forests, cutting deforesting commodities out of global supply chains, and removing barriers to forest-friendly goods
Accelerating the recognition of land rights to Indigenous peoples
Making the shift towards nature-based economies
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Asian elephant Elephas maximus crossing a road in its natural landscape in Manas National Park, India, June 7, 2018. Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.