The most threatened is the Amazon Rain Forest, followed by the rain forests of Congo, Madagascar, Philippines. But also other precious forest ecosystems are threatened, such as the Mesoamerican Forests (Mexico), the South-American Savanna Forests, the Atlantic Dry Forest of Brazil. The National Geographic has decided to celebrate the International Day of the Earth, presenting a collection of the most beautiful pictures of the planet's most threatened forests.
While the rate of Amazon deforestation has slowed somewhat in recent decades, it's still among the highest of any forest in the world. Large tracts are being cleared annually to make way for cattle ranches and cash crops such as soy beans and, more recently, palm oil. Another concern are the growing number of roads through the rain forest, which are aiding loggers and serving as entry points for everyone from farmers and developers to oil and mineral prospectors.
The rich endemic fauna Madagascar is at risk of becoming extinct if the island's moist tropical forests and dry forests disappear. These species are found nowhere else than in the rain forests of Madagascar and risk to disappear together with their habitat. Madagascar has precious hardwoods including ebony and rosewood, which are in high demand in the marketplace.
Philippines' Island forests are typically very sensitive, and many worldwide are under pressure from tourism, invasive species, and sea level rise triggered by global warming. Another worry for forests is a growing middle class in developing countries.
Increasingly, the forests of Mesoamerica—a region that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica are being cleared to make room for agriculture, cattle ranching, and tourism resorts.
Eastern Atlantic forests in the region are also home to mahogany—one of the most prized tropical hardwoods in the world. Another concern for Mesoamerican forests is the region's thriving drug trade, that makes the region more unstable.
Second in size only to the Amazon, the Congo rain forest—which extends across six African countries—is disappearing as a result of intense logging activity and farming, specifically for crops such as cassava and oil palm. Of all the endangered forest regions we're talking about, the Congo Basin probably has the most challenging state governance anywhere.
Brazil's Cerrado Woodlands (or Savanna Forests) is one of the largest savanna environments in the world. While Africa's famous savannas are home to animals such as elephants and lions, eastern South America's savannas contain lesser known species such as the maned wolf and the greater rhea, a flightless bird. Dangers to the Cerrado incude agriculture (notably maize), charcoal production, water projects, and cattle ranching.
The Atlantic Dry Forest, such as those now protected in the Brazil's Chapada Diamantina National Park, has been under threat for a number of years. Agriculture conversion and development are the big threats.