About forest conservation

Around 80% of the earth's land area is not formally protected and consists of 'multi-layered' forested landscapes that support people, biodiversity, agricultural activity and industry, making them highly productive. Forests have a value for all these groups, locally and globally. It is vital that forest conservation understands the multiple perspectives and competing demands on all levels and that certain trade-offs will have to be made.

  • Over 40% of the world’s oxygen is produced by rainforests. 
  • Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity
  • The livelihoods of 1.6 billion people depend on forests
  • More than a quarter of modern medicines, worth an estimated US$ 108 billion a year, originate from tropical forest plants.  
  • The carbon in forests exceeds the amount of carbon currently in the atmosphere.


IUCN solutions

Working with communities, government agencies, NGOs and businesses, IUCN’s Forest Conservation Programme supports the development of locally-driven, sustainable measures that will improve forest management.

IUCN learns from experience about how to negotiate a balance between human and environmental needs and these lessons are being fed into national and international policy. One of its key initiatives is Livelihoods and Landscapes through which dozens of projects are underway across Africa, Asia and South America. Lessons from Livelihoods and Landscapes are feeding into the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, of which IUCN is a key partner.

There is growing recognition of the role of forests in storing carbon and combating climate change. The emerging approach of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) is gaining acceptance at the international level. The challenge now, and one that IUCN is playing a key role in addressing is to make sure that REDD delivers benefits to both people and biodiversity.

IUCN is also central to an emerging initiative called Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP). Funded by the World Bank, this supports partnerships and initiatives developed by forest-dependent people and those who use, manage or regulate forests. Around the world, local people, governments, businesses and local organizations are finding fruitful ways of working together but big challenges remain: local and indigenous communities are marginalized in decisions over natural resource use; large organisations working on forest conservation struggle to co-ordinate their joint work; while smallholders and forest communities often lack clear land rights and access to markets.

In response GFP is establishing a wider platform for civil society dialogue involving the various stakeholders about the approach toward developing forestry policy at the national and local levels. Using this partnership and dialogue approach allows IUCN and its partners to tackle the root causes of the world’s most pressing issues, including poverty, biodiversity loss and climate change.

Forests of South East Cameroon

Forests of South East Cameroon

Photo: Agni Boedhihartono / IUCN

View of logging road in the Cameroon Forests