According to a new study, attempts to preserve the world's forests currently afford protection to less than 10%. The study, 'A global analysis of the protection status of the world’s forests', published in Biological Conservation, is the first to attempt to quantify what percentage of the world's forests enjoy such protection. It shows that, according to the criteria set out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), only 7.7% are safeguarded.
In 2004, under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 191 countries agreed to a target of protecting at least 10% of the world's forests. This is thought to be the minimum level of conservation required to stabilize climate change, and to protect the incredible biological diversity of the world's forests.
However, the authors of this paper, including Lauren Coad, a forest scientist at the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, do not expect that the CBD targets will be met. There is some good news, however. Many of the forests in areas designated as 'biodiversity hotspots' are being protected at a level above the 10% target, ensuring that some of the world's most precious ecosystems enjoy some level of protection.
Schmitt, C. B. et al. (2009) 'Global analysis of the protection status of the world’s forests'. Biological Conservation. Published online: 19 May 2009 | doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2009.04.012.