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Nat Ecol Evol. 2018 Apr;2(4):599-610. doi: 10.1038/s41559-018-0490-x. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

The exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems.

Author information

1
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. jwatson@wcs.org.
2
Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Program, Bronx, New York, NY, USA. jwatson@wcs.org.
3
Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Program, Bronx, New York, NY, USA.
4
Natural Resources & Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
5
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
6
Canadian Forest Service, Sault Ste, Marie, Ontario, Canada.
7
Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
8
The Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment and Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, London, UK.
9
University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.
10
Division of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA.
11
Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
12
Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, MA, USA.
13
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden.
14
Forest Trends Association, Washington DC, USA.
15
Global Programme on Nature for Development, United Nations Development Programme, New York, NY, USA.
16
Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.

Abstract

As the terrestrial human footprint continues to expand, the amount of native forest that is free from significant damaging human activities is in precipitous decline. There is emerging evidence that the remaining intact forest supports an exceptional confluence of globally significant environmental values relative to degraded forests, including imperilled biodiversity, carbon sequestration and storage, water provision, indigenous culture and the maintenance of human health. Here we argue that maintaining and, where possible, restoring the integrity of dwindling intact forests is an urgent priority for current global efforts to halt the ongoing biodiversity crisis, slow rapid climate change and achieve sustainability goals. Retaining the integrity of intact forest ecosystems should be a central component of proactive global and national environmental strategies, alongside current efforts aimed at halting deforestation and promoting reforestation.

PMID:
29483681
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-018-0490-x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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