Status of the world's remaining closed forests: An assessment using satellite data and policy options


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Historically, it appears that some of the WRCF have survived because i) they lack sufficient quantity of commercially valuable species; ii) they are located in remote or inaccessible areas; or iii) they have been protected as national parks and sanctuaries. Forests will be protected when people who are deciding the fate of forests conclude than the conservation of forests is more beneficial, e.g. generates higher incomes or has cultural or social values, than their clearance. If this is not the case, forests will continue to be cleared and converted. In the future, the WRCF may be protected only by focused attention. The future policy options may include strategies for strong protection measures, the raising of public awareness about the value of forests, and concerted actions for reducing pressure on forest lands by providing alternatives to forest exploitation to meet the growing demands of forest products. Many areas with low population densities offer an opportunity for conservation if appropriate steps are taken now by the national governments and international community. This opportunity must be founded upon the increased public and government awareness that forests have vast importance to the welfare of humans and ecosystems' services such as biodiversity, watershed protection, and carbon balance. Also paramount to this opportunity is the increased scientific understanding of forest dynamics and technical capability to install global observation and assessment systems. High-resolution satellite data such as Landsat 7 and other technologically advanced satellite programs will provide unprecedented monitoring options for governing authorities. Technological innovation can contribute to the way forests are protected. The use of satellite imagery for regular monitoring and Internet for information dissemination provide effective tools for raising worldwide awareness about the significance of forests and intrinsic value of nature.

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