A new study by an international team of conservationist scientists has warned that only five percent of the world's pre-agricultural primary forest cover is now found in protected areas. Warning about the precarious state of the primary forests, the study, which was published in the journal Conservation Letters, stresses on the importance of protecting these areas.
“International negotiations are failing to halt the loss of the world's most important primary forests and in the absence of specific policies for primary forest protection in biodiversity and climate change treaties, their unique biodiversity values and ecosystem services will continue to be lost in both developed and developing countries, “ said Brendan Mackey, Director of the Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia.
According to the study, primary forest are home to an extraordinary richness of biodiversity and that up to 57 percent of all tropical forest species depend on primary forest habitat.
For the study, researchers analysed primary forests across the world and found that almost 98 per cent of primary forest is found within 25 countries. And around half of that located in five developed countries: the US, Canada, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
Researchers warn that policies are urgently needed to reduce pressure to open up primary forests for industrial land use.
The researchers also identified four new actions that would provide a solid policy foundation for key international negotiations, including forest-related multilateral agreements to help ensure primary forests persist into the 21st century, which includes recognizing primary forests as a matter of global concern within international negotiations and not just as a problem in developing nations, incorporating primary forests into environmental accounting, including the special contributions of their ecosystem services (including freshwater and watershed services), and use a science-based definition to distinguish primary forests.