Forests cover only about 30% of our planet, but they contain more than 80% of terrestrial biodiversity, and they provide many natural resources to both humans and other creatures. However, our global forests are rapidly degrading and disappearing due to a number of man-made factors .
The following is a list of five of the most endangered forests on Earth today.
Atlantic Rainforest, South America
The Atlantic Rainforest is located along the Coast of Brazil and extends to parts of Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. The Forest also includes islands off the coasts of Brazil and the offshore archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
The Atlantic Rainforest habitat is composed of both tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, consists of 20,000 plant species, and over 24 Critically Endangered vertebrate species such as Lion Tamarins. The primary threats include the expansion of sugarcane and coffee plantations, and increased population and urbanization of the areas immediately surrounding Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. A mere 7% of the original Atlantic Rainforest remains today [2,3,4].
The tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests in this region contain over 8,000 plant species, and many unique fauna species such as the Philippine Eagle (the second-largest eagle in the world), many other bird species, and the Panther Flying Frog that can glide through the air using webbed fingers and toes.
Primary threats include deforestation for farming, a rising human population, and logging. Only 7% of the original habitat remains [5,6,7,8].
This forested region is located in Indonesia, and consists of 17,000 equatorial islands, including Borneo and Sumatra. The special fauna that lives there includes the Sumatran Orangutan and the Bornean Orangutan, and two Southeast Asian rhino species.
Threats to the flora and fauna include international animal trade, unsustainable legal and illegal logging, and commercial rubber, oil palm, and pulp production. Only about 7% of the original forest habitat remains [9,10].
New Caledonia, Asia Pacific
This region is located in a group of islands in the South Pacific in the Melanesian region, and consists of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. More than five endemic plant families exist here, including a parasitic conifer and a large share of the world’s Araucaria trees.
The fauna in New Caledonia includes the endangered Kagu, a bluish-grey bird that is endemic to the region’s forests. The primary threat to this forest region include nickel mining, forest destruction, and invasive species.
Only 5% of the forest’s original range exists today [11,12,13,14,15].
Indo-Burma, Asia Pacific
This region contains both tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. Fauna here include birds, freshwater turtles, and some of the world’s largest freshwater fish, including giant catfish and Julien’s Golden Carp. Threats to this region include draining for rice cultivation, the establishment of shrimp aquaculture ponds, overfishing, and the building of dams, which are destroying large amounts of habitat. Only 5% of the original Indo-Burma forests remain today [16,17].
It is important for humanity as a whole to come to terms with the continued destruction of the world’s forests. If we do not stop the exploitation of our global forests, we will lose a large proportion of the world’s many plant and animal species and their associated values such as medicine and beauty. Because of the importance of global forest ecosystems in carbon sequestration and the regulation of the world’s climate, we will be increasing our vulnerability to climate change dramatically if we lose these precious forests.
With so many resources at our disposal today, we can absolutely solve the problems of poverty and the ability of the human race to live sustainably on our planet. We just need the political will to do the right things for both present and future generations. Together, we can solve these problems and create a better world, leaving it better than we inherited it.