The most critical of all forest types is primary forest, known as old-growth or virgin forest. Examples include the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia and those of the Amazon and the Congo. With mature canopy trees and complex understories, these forests contain 300 billion tons of carbon and are the greatest repositories of biodiversity on the planet.
In 2015, there were an estimated three trillion trees in the world. That count is substantially higher than previously thought, but more than 15 billion are cut down each year. Since humans began farming, the number of trees on earth has fallen by 46 percent. Carbon emissions from deforestation and associated land use change are estimated to be 10 to 15 percent of the world’s total.
Strategies to stop deforestation and protect forests include:
- public policy and the enforcement of existing anti-logging laws;
- market-driven mechanisms, primarily eco-certification programs that inform consumers and affect purchasing decisions; and
- programs that enable wealthy nations and corporations to make payments to countries and communities for maintaining their forests.
The benefits of forest conservation include biodiversity protection, non-timber products, erosion control, pollination, ecotourism, and other ecosystem services.
Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.