2011 International Year of the Forest

The United Nations General Assembly has named 2011 as the “International Year of the Forest” to promote sustainability, awareness and conservation of all types of forest.

31% of the planetary land mass that we have is occupied by various types of forests. Within that 31% of forest that we have, 80% of the worlds fauna and flora call it home. Forests are a vital part of life not only to the plants and animals but to us humans as well. About 1.6 billion peoples livelihoods depend on the forest and a further 300 million live within the forest itself.

With numbers like that you can already sense an urgency in the protection and conservation of forests globally.  Despite this, forests in the Indo-Burma region, New Caledonia, Sundaland, the Philippines, Atlantic Forest, Southwest China, California Floristic Province, Eastern Africa, Madagascar, Indian Ocean Islands, and finally Eastern Afromontane are named as the most threatened forests on Earth.

To illuminate just how these forests are being threatened and the urgency of the need to act, I’ll go into detail of just some of the forests. There are still quite a few which I have listed that are  currently under threat but they are all being threatened by common factors.

New Caledonia, located just east of Australia is threatened by Nickel mining and forest destruction. The introduction of foreign animals are also playing havoc on the native fauna such as the already rare kagu bird.

In the Indo-Malaysian archipelago an arc of some 17,000 islands comprise of the Sundaland forest hot spot. Only 7% of the regions original forest remain whilst the leftover 93% has been transformed into rubber, oil and palm plantations. Plants and animals that reside in that region, especially the Orang-Utans are falling victim to increased agriculture and the black market wildlife trade.

There are 80 million people who are dependant on the natural resources  from forests in the Philippines. Due to those 80 million people who have led to extensive logging and farming of the area, the Philippines has now been named as one of the most endangered areas.

In the South Americas, parts of Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina together make up what is known as the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is currently at risk  from coffee and sugarcane plantations. An alarming less than 10% of the regions forest remains today. In that remaining 10% two dozen various rare animals call it home. There are also several industries and a hundred million people who depend on the forests fresh water.

Conservation International who has compiled this  report and ranking of threatened forests, purposely released its report to coincide especially with the naming of 2011, as International Year of the Forest by the UN.  This ranking has also reported that 1,500 native plant species have lost 90% or more of their original habitats.

For more information on the other forests mentioned you can go here: http://www.conservation.org/Pages/default.aspx and http://on.natgeo.com/dLr9tg#photos

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