The World’s 10 Most Threatened Forest Hotspots

A Zanzibar red colobus monkey (Procolobus kirkii) native to part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa hotspot.

Today, in an effort to focus the world’s attention on the need to increase the protection of forests — and make sure that their high importance for biodiversity conservation, climate stabilization and economic development is not undervalued — the U.N. launched the International Year of Forests.

Forests cover only 30 percent of our planet’s land area, yet they are home to 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They also sustain the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people, who directly depend on healthy forests for income. The trees, flowers, animals and microorganisms found in forests form a complex web of life; their interactions sustain some of our most basic needs, like clean air, healthy soils, medicines, crop pollination and fresh water.

The role of forests in stabilizing the climate must also be increasingly recognized, as emissions resulting from deforestation represent approximately 15 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and standing forests are superior stores of carbon. In the words of Olivier Langrand, CI’s international policy chief, “Forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate to give room to pastures, agricultural land, mineral exploitation and sprawling urban areas, but by doing so we are destroying our own capacity to survive.”

Deforestation in Madagascar, one of the world’s 10 most threatened forested hotspots.

In addition to their significance to biodiversity and climate stabilization, forests have been increasingly important in the provision of fresh water on a global scale. Over three-quarters of the world’s accessible fresh water comes from forested watersheds and two-thirds of all major cities in developing countries depend on surrounding forests for their supply of clean water.

“During this International Year of Forests, we strongly encourage countries to take a new look at the long-term value of managing and protecting their natural forests, which are globally important assets,” added Langrand. “Healthy forests are an important part of the natural capital and offer us the most cost-effective means of confronting the many environmental challenges of climate change and increased demand for forest products.”

To mark the occasion, CI has compiled a list of the 10 most at-risk forested hotspots around the world. These forests have all lost 90 percent or more of their original habitat, and each harbors at least 1,500 plant species found nowhere else in the world. If these forests are lost, those endemic species also will be lost forever. Close to one billion people who live in or around them rely on the natural resources these forest ecosystems provide. And, ultimately, we all rely on them; these 10 hotspots also store over 25 gigatons of carbon, helping us to cope with the already inevitable effects of climate change.

Here’s our ranking of the world’s 10 most threatened forested hotspots, listed by percentage of remaining original habitat:

Hotspot Remaining habitat
1 Indo-Burma (southern Asia) 5%
2 New Caledonia (Pacific Islands) 5%
3 Sundaland (Indonesia/Malaysia) 7%
4 Philippines 7%
5 Atlantic Forest (South America) 8%
6 Mountains of Southwest China 8%
7 California Floristic Province (U.S. and Mexico) 10%
8 Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa 10%
9 Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands 10%
10 Eastern Afromontane (Africa) 11%


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  5. Jay Lynn says

    Please discuss the book, The Vertical Farm. The rock star, Sting, is on the cover, recommending the book. The Huffingtonpost recommends the book on the back cover. If every city around the world had at least one Vertical Farm, endangered species around the world would have much less habitat loss. Human beings would have healthier food and water, without pesticides, etc. (Your CAPTCHA is difficult to read. You may be losing reader comments, due to this CAPTCHA requirement. Please make it ALL CAPITALS AND EASY TO READ. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.

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  9. Julie Kinnear says

    It’s necessary to protect all remaining forests around the Globe. The pollution is rising because of increasing energy consumption and that is because of growing population together with higher demand for food. We should start to revaluate our values of life to decide what is more important for us. I believe that we all want at least to breathe fresh air and drink clean water. Save the Planet Earth for our children!

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  12. Peter Taylor says

    Do not know the difference between New Zealand and New Caledonia. What a joke. And you expect us to believe the substance of your claim. Stick to telling us that Alaska is in the Antarctic and promoting the rights of gay frogs and other such anomalies and working for the UN.

  13. Prabhat Misra says

    With the growth of population and continuous urbanization cum industrialisation, there is great pressure on forests and their survival is a challenge. Our ecosystems are in fragile stage and near to end. Forests are the source of biodiversity, Oxygen, Energy trapping, food, fodder and fuel; these are GLOBAL SINK OF CARBON DI-OXIDE. Forests regulate WATER CYCLE. If we will not save forests then our future will collapse. So, SAVE FORESTS, SAVE NATURE and SAVE FUTURE.

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  16. ShadetheGlaceon&MoMotheShinyMew says

    We really think it’s messedup what we do to habbitats and the animals that live in them. People know what their doing to it. Yet they dont do Crap to stop it!!!!! Me and Momo want to help but what can two seven graders do?

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  25. Sonu says

    Nice blog and great pictures glad to come across this website after reading its title really we are losing our natural resources day by day. Thanks for sharing, keep it up.

  26. dipesh chamling says

    This is some serious problem we are facing in our world. We have lost more then then thousand of sepsis and loosing 100 more every year. we need to conserve what we have or its over for us too. sad 🙁

  27. Bibek angbuhang says

    We all human beings should be aware and protect the natural resources,We all should be together and help to preserve and conserve the nature.lets not destroy it and keep on organizing awareness program.

  28. Bibek says

    It’s really sad to see that day by day we are loosing many species.Instead of protecting their lives we are loosing them.So,lets conserve it what we have and not let tem go.

  29. Robin says

    This article stills covers the needs of increasing the forest and “make sure that their high importance for biodiversity conservation, climate stabilization”. Great article

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