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We are off track to save our forests, but there's still time: WWF report

The global goal to protect and restore forests by 2030 is veering off course, and the speed at which deforestation is occurring has intensified at an alarming rate. 

Two new reports, the Forest Pathways 2023 by WWF and the Forest Declaration Assessment, have shed light on the urgency of this situation.

Sobering reality

Two years ago, over 130 countries (representing 85% of the planet’s forests) made a pledge to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. However, the world is not on a path to achieve this target.

To put the current situation into perspective, the planet has lost 16.3 million acres of forest. A staggering 96% of this deforestation occurred in tropical regions, except for Tropical Asia, which stands as the only beacon of hope nearing zero deforestation. The primary loss of tropical forest stood at 10.1 million acres in 2022 alone.

The consequences of such extensive deforestation can be catastrophic for our global climate, especially considering the significant roles played by the planet’s three largest tropical forest basins: the Amazon, Congo, and Asia-Pacific.

Time is of the essence

Despite these bleak statistics, there is a silver lining, according to Kerry Cesareo, senior vice president for forests at WWF.

“If we’re serious about ensuring a future for forests – and halting the biodiversity and climate crises – time is of the essence,” said Cesareo. “While the numbers are stark, we know what we need to do. And the Forest Pathways report provides tangible guidance for decision-makers, from governments to financial institutions to private sector actors.”

Tangible solutions 

The Forest Pathways report presents tangible solutions for diverse stakeholders, ranging from governments to private sectors.

One of the significant concerns addressed in the report is the financing channeled towards forests. A mere $2.2 billion in public funds are allocated for forests annually, which is a fraction of other global investments.

According to WWF, at least 100 times more public funding goes to environmentally harmful subsidies than financing to help forests.

Furthermore, indigenous communities, despite proving to manage forests better, are not receiving the necessary resources to safeguard their rights and their lands.

Essential measures in the forest report

The Forest Pathways report is not just about highlighting the problems. It offers a blueprint to rescue our forests by 2030. The essential measures that are outlined in the report include:

  • Ending investments and subsidies that harm forests, such as the agricultural subsidies causing the loss of 5.4 million acres annually.
  • Overhauling global trade rules that are detrimental to forests and ensuring forest-friendly goods face no barriers.
  • Swift recognition of land rights for Indigenous peoples.
  • Transitioning toward nature-based economies.

Global efforts

In addition, the report highlights specific global efforts, like the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) program in Brazil and WWF’s Forests Forward program, that are making strides against deforestation.

WWF’s message is clear: it’s time for governments and businesses to take meaningful action. This includes endorsing acts like the FOREST Act and enforcing the Lacey Act in the United States.

Forests lie at the very core of WWF’s mission. Their endeavors range from supporting the establishment of protected zones to promoting forest sustainability. Alongside local and global allies, WWF is tirelessly working to halt deforestation and breathe life back into our forests.

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