Primary Forest Initiatives
Primary Forest Conservation – North America
British Columbia’s Forgotten Inland Rainforest
Only 3% of old-growth forests are protected here and the region is increasingly threatened, including by logging of 1,000 year old trees for biomass pellets. We are partnering with the Conservation Biology Institute and Conservation North, on the first comprehensive assessment of this globally unique region. See the Narwhal lead story on our work. We are also partnering with Conservation North, the Conservation Biology Institute and Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia) to map the world’s last remaining primary forests, including in BC.
Biodiverse and Carbon Dense Forests from the Sierra to the Tongass rainforest
Greater Pacific Northwest Bioregion
This large bioregion extends from northern California to Washington with several smaller ecoregions nested within it, some of which are recognized as WWF Global 200 ecoregions (Klamath-Siskiyou) for their world-class biodiversity . The amount of carbon stored in Pacific Northwest forests (especially coastal areas) is significant on a global scale and needs to be protected for climate and biodiversity benefits. Importantly, the Northwest Forest Plan is a global model of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management on 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of federal lands with roughly one-third of the forests in reserves. The plan will soon be revised by the USDA Forest Service and there are efforts ongoing to weaken the plan and undermine protections of large trees, reserves, and stream buffers. We are providing technical expertise to local conservation groups pushing back on these proposals and also fighting protection rollbacks in nearby dry forest forests in Oregon and Washington.
Tongass National Forest
This nearly 7 million hectare national forest is the crown-jewel of the USDA National Forest system. Ancient cedars and hemlocks tower to the Alaska skyline. Prolific salmon runs line up to spawn in pristine streams that resemble rush hour traffic jams. Brown bears, wolves, and bald eagles feed on spawned out carcasses that supply critical nutrients to rainforest trees.
Wild Heritage Chief Scientist Dominick DellaSala has a long history of working in the Tongass as one of the world’s last remaining relatively intact temperate rainforest. We are working with dozens of conservation groups and Native American tribes to prevent rollbacks of protections on nearly 4 million hectares of intact, carbon dense roadless areas. We are also working with the Woodwell Climate Research Center to map out the carbon stocks in the Tongass rainforest so that they can be considered for future protections as a carbon-wildlife rainforest reserve.
Chief scientist Dominick DellaSala explains the importance of one of the world’s rarest temperate rainforests in this live Facebook event.
Primary Forests and International Policy
We need to change forest policies – both international and domestic – so that we can protect primary forests and also provide the large-scale funding needed to support long-term protection, to Indigenous Peoples and local communities and protected areas. Wild Heritage and the many partners we work with via IntAct have made exceptional progress in driving strong policies in support of primary forests, including advocating successfully in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Union and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
IntAct: International Action for Primary Forest
Wild Heritage is proud to serve as the secretariat for IntAct: International Action for Primary Forests, a coalition of over 100 organizations that have signed the IntAct Statement of Principes and are working to prioritize primary forest conservation around the world. Please visit the IntAct website for more information and please watch our video!
Wild Heritage partners with World Resources Institute, Australian Rainforest Conservation Society and Griffith University on a major new report!
See: The Nexus Report: Nature Based Solutions to the Biodiversity and Climate Crisis commissioned by the Wyss Campaign for Nature (US) and the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology (China), which strongly emphasizes the importance of primary forests.
The European Union’s New Biodiversity Strategy Calls for Protection of Europe’s Remaining Primary Forests!
Our close working partner Wild Europe (Cyril Kormos sits on the Wild Europe Executive Committee) was instrumental in bringing about a new policy in Europe calling for protection of remaining primary forests in Europe. Sadly little primary forest remains – the goal now is to ensure that the little that remains is strictly protected, and that ecological restoration occurs around these remaining fragments to buffer and reconnect them and rebuild larger and more robust forest ecosystems.
IUCN Primary Forest Policy
Wild Heritage Executive Director Cyril Kormos is a member of the IUCN Primary Forest Task Team which drafted an IUCN primary forest policy that will guide IUCN’s 1,300 organizational members and 13,000 volunteer IUCN Commission experts in their work. Cyril is now leading the process to develop a guidance document to supplement the new policy. See IUCN’s Crossroads blog and IUCN’s primary forest page.
Convention on Biological Diversity
Wild Heritage advocates for making primary forests a key focus area in the work of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
WE MADE MAJOR BREAKTHROUGHS AT CBD COP14 in December 2018! Never before has the CBD recognized the critical importance of primary forests and ecosystem integrity in its decisions. But it does now!
Read decisions 14/5 and 14/30 or see excerpts below:
Decision 14/5 calls for strengthening “ecosystem integrity for the conservation of natural ecosystems” and encourages Parties “to integrate climate change issues and related national priorities into national biodiversity strategies and action plans and to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem integrity considerations into national policies, strategies and plans on climate change, such as nationally determined contributions, as appropriate, and national climate change adaptation planning, in their capacity as national instruments for the prioritization of actions for mitigation and adaptation. Decision 14/5 also calls on the Executive Secretary of the Convention “to develop targeted messaging on how biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, functions and services contribute to tackle the challenges of climate change”.
Decision 14/30 recognizes “the efforts made to improve the consistency of reporting on national data on primary forest area reported under the Global Forest Resources Assessment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, considering the exceptional importance of primary forest for biodiversity conservation,” and the need achieve forest-related Aichi Biodiversity Targets, “in a mutually supportive manner, primarily with regard to (a) the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation, (b) forest restoration and (c) the urgent necessity to avoid major fragmentation, damage and loss of primary forests of the planet.
UNFCCC and Ecosystem Integrity
Wild Heritage is working with partners (in particular the Australian Rainforest Conservation Society) to raise awareness of the importance of primary forests in the climate convention. The latest breakthrough came last year via a UNFCCC decision at COP 25 with language endorsing the need to address biodiversity and climate change together:
1/CP.25 para 15. “ Underlines the essential contribution of nature to addressing climate change and its impacts and the need to address biodiversity loss and climate change in an integrated manner;”