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"A Global Overview of Forest Conservation"
Nota: Se recogen aquí, copiadas directamente del original, las principales conclusiones del estudio hecho en 1997 por WCMC (World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
The study showed that there were just under 40 million km2 of forest in the world, and
over 3 million in IUCN protected areas categories I-VI. This represents a proportion of 8%
of the world's forests in protected areas of this category range.
Three of the 12 regions in this study had much more forest than all the others, North
America, Russia and South America. These all had in the region of 8 million km2 of forest,
and together had a sum of more forest than all of the other regions put together.
The region with the lowest protection figure was Russia at 2%. Insular South East Asia
had the highest at 17%. Regions with 10 or more percent in IUCN protected areas
categories I-VI were the Caribbean, Central America, Continental South and South East
Asia, Insular South East Asia and South America. Those with less than 10% were Africa,
Australasia, Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, North America and Russia.
The three regions with 5 or less percent of their forest under protection were Russia, the
Middle East and the Far East. Although the lack of data for protected areas could be a
contributing factor to these low figures it is apparent that to conserve the world's
biodiversity more forest protection would be desirable in these regions.
According to the definitions used in this study there were 25 types of forest in the world,
including the categories for sparse trees and parkland, disturbed forest, native species
plantations and exotic species plantations. Non-tropical evergreen needleleaf forest
covered more area than any of the other forest types. The next greatest was tropical
lowland forest, and the two next most extensive forest types were non-tropical deciduous
broadleaf forest and non-tropical deciduous needleleaf forest.
The forest types varied in their percentage protection from 0.9% for the non-tropical
deciduous needleleaf forest to 22.6% for the non-tropical evergreen broadleaf forests.
Seventeen of the 25 forest types recorded had less than 10% of their areas under
protection in IUCN categories I-VI. Intact natural forest types that were less than 5%
protected were tropical mixed needleleaf/broadleaf forest, tropical sclerophyllous dry
forest, non-tropical freshwater swamp forest and non-tropical deciduous needleleaf forest.
Forest type variants (a combination of the forest type defined in this study and the
ecological zone that it occurred in) that had no protection and were of limited size were
counted in each region. Regions with the lowest percentage of these were North America,
Australasia and Europe; those with the highest percentages were the Far East (by quite a
margin), the Caribbean, South America and the Middle East. High percentage numbers
may mean that there are more rare forest variants in these regions than in those with low
The ratio of forest to people in the world showed that for every person in the world in 1996
there was 0.7ha of forest. Russia, North America, South America and Australasia had
much more than this. Five regions had much less: the Caribbean, Continental South and
South East Asia, the Far East and the Middle East. The Middle East had the lowest
amount of forest per person and also the lowest amount of protected forest per person.
The Far East and Continental South and South East Asia had the next lowest figures for
protected forest per person.
The Middle East and the Far East both had low forest to people ratios and low percentages
of their forest under protection. On a global scale this indicates that these regions could be
the worst off from the point of view of pressure on the remaining forests and therefore
most in need of emphasis on forest management. The next most threatened region was
Continental South and South East Asia, with a low forest:people ratio and a medium
percentage of forest under protection.
At the other end of the scale are the forests of Russia where the forest:people ratio was
high but the percentage of forest under protection was low. The danger is in this case to
assume that because the ratio is low and the pressure on forests is not high, therefore
there is not such an urgent need for protection efforts as there would be for example in
Continental South and South East Asia. The regional analysis showed that some forest
types and variants were rare and unprotected in Russia, and should be examined for
conservation needs without delay. The vast areas of boreal forest are of conservation
concern particularly because of the very large area of forest that is required to support
viable populations of the large carnivores found there.
According to forest cover and population projections to the year 2025, the overall world
ratio will change, leaving 0.46ha per person as against the 0.7ha in 1996. This is a drop of
34%. In most regions the ratios will decrease, but in Russia and Europe there will be a
slight increase. In Europe at least, this is attributable to the expansion of forestry
plantations into currently unforested lands, as well as the low population growth rate.
Russia will replace Australasia in having the highest ratio. At the opposite end of the scale
are the regions which will experience a dramatic fall in their forest:population ratios, for
example, Continental South and South East Asia, Insular South East Asia and Africa, in
which the ratios will be almost halved. Continental South and South East Asia will share
the lowest ratio in the world with the Middle East. The case of Continental South and
South East Asia is interesting in this regard because it also had one of the lowest ratios of
amount of protected forest per person (see above).
The fact that Insular South East Asia had the highest percentage forest protection figure
of all the regions in this study and yet it appeared in the prediction for 2025 to have
experienced a rapid change in the forest:population ratio, means that either the population
is going to grow at an extremely rapid rate or that the legally designated protected areas
do not mean forest protection on the ground. South and Central America will also
experience a large drop in the forest:people ratio. Australasia will experience the largest
absolute drop in the ratio figure.
In order to maintain the current levels of forest variety and biodiversity, changes must be
effected in the areas of national and international protected areas systems planning and
forest usage. To decrease deleterious pressure on forests caused by demands that are too
high for the forest resource to supply on a sustainable basis, the forest to people ratio
should be maintained at a reasonable level. The information in this study could be used to
help target efforts to conserve the great variety and diversity of the remaining forests of
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