Forests are home to more than half of all species found on land, a rich variety of life that keeps many of our most vital natural systems running – from keeping our climate stable by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, to regulating our water supply and improving its quality.
Over one billion people live in and around forests and depend on them for fuel, food and medicines. And all of us use wood in our daily lives: in fact, global demand for timber products is expected to more than triple over the next three decades.
Unfortunately, human impacts have already led to the loss of around 40% of the world’s forests. And we’re losing forests at a rate of 10 million hectares per year. Halting deforestation, protecting and sustainably managing forests, and restoring forests have never been more urgent.
Forests are coming under more pressure than ever as demand for food and fuel grows.
Every year, around 10 million hectares of forests are destroyed, making way for activities like cattle pasture, palm oil plantations, soy fields or roads. Most of this is happening in tropical regions, where there is a particularly rich variety of life.
Even larger areas are suffering from degradation – where the forest remains, but its richness and health is in decline. Threats include illegal and unsustainable logging, overharvesting of wood for fuel and charcoal, small-scale farming, hunting, forest fires, and pests and diseases.
All this threatens the survival of countless species, fuels climate change, jeopardizes people’s livelihoods and undermines the vital services that forests provide.
We want to see a world where forests are properly valued for the many benefits they provide for people, economies and nature. And we know it’s possible.
With better protection, forests can continue to provide a welcome home for wildlife and provide resources for indigenous peoples and local communities. Globally, they can keep delivering essential services such as climate stability and clean water. With better management, we can meet the growing demand for wood products without damaging the local environment. And with better planning, we can produce enough food for growing populations without having to convert forests to farmland.
We can even go further, by replanting and restoring forests that have been destroyed or degraded. This can help address climate change, extend and reconnect wildlife habitats, and reduce problems like flooding and erosion.
"The value of forests cannot be underestimated. From carbon storage to cultural diversity, forests impact us in more ways than we can imagine."
Fran Price, Forest Practice Lead
Human activities are destroying the natural world we all depend on for our survival and well-being. The threats grow by the day. But WWF remains hopeful and works tirelessly with people around the world to build a future where humanity and nature thrive. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with our vital work and find out how to get involved.
Forests have been at the heart of WWF’s work for half a century - we’ve supported the creation of protected areas, helped move the forest sector towards sustainability and transparency; and we’re working across the world to halt deforestation, help restore forests and put deforestation-free commitments into action.
We're collaborating with communities to design locally led solutions and supporting them to take control of their forest resources.
We're working with multinational businesses to ensure their supply chains are forest-friendly and that companies take action to meet their zero-deforestation commitments.
We're influencing governments' climate and development plans, and encouraging investment in restoring forests
WWF works across the world to halt deforestation and forest degradation, protect and sustainably manage forests and restore forest landscapes. Leading the team – called the WWF Forests Practice – is Fran Raymond Price, who has spent her career working to protect forests and improve forestry around the globe.
By 2030, we’re working to end deforestation, protect and improve the management of the world’s forests, and help restore forest landscapes across the world.