Forest Conservation:
11 facts you need to know

If we don’t protect our ​forests, how will we clean the air, store carbon and purify water — for the entire planet?


© Conservation International/photo by Stephen Richards

Nature = one-third of the solution

Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems, such as old-growth forests, could provide a third of the global action needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Tweet this fact »


© Conservation International/photo by Katrin Olson

Nature’s medicine chest

Many disease-battling medicines sold worldwide are derived directly from plants found in rainforests — from the cancer drug vincristine to quinine, which is used to treat malaria. Tweet this fact »


© Robin Moore/iLCP

Living filters

Forests are “living filters” for rivers and streams — absorbing sediments and storing and transforming excess nutrients and pollutants. They can reduce nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations by up to 99 percent.1 Tweet this fact »


© Luciano Candisani/iLCP

Unmatched biodiversity

Tropical forests cover roughly 10 percent of Earth’s land mass but are home to at least half of all living species2, 3, 4 on the planet. Tweet this fact »


© Conservation International/photo by François Tron

Populations in perspective

An estimated 350 million people around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods5, 6, 7 — more than the population of the United States. Tweet this fact »



Help us protect forests

No amount of innovation or technology can replace the life-giving functions that forests provide for people and the planet. In fact, it’s easier to save forests than to replace them. You can help protect an acre now for only $25.


© Jessica Scranton

Successful stewardship

Indigenous peoples manage or have rights over about 40 percent of all terrestrial protected areas and ecologically intact landscapes8 — and their lands have lower rates of deforestation and fire than other protected areas. Tweet this fact »


© Flavio Forner

Where in the world?

Five countries — Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and the United States — are home to more than half of the world’s forests.5 Tweet this fact »


© Benjamin Drummond

1 billion people

More than 1 billion rural people depend on forests to some extent for food, and 252 million people who live in forests and savannas have incomes of less than $1.25 per day.5 Tweet this fact »​​​


© Olivier Langrand

Forests need animals

Up to 90 percent of trees and plants in tropical forests rely on animals to propagate their seeds. The loss of species due to human activities could impact tropical forests’ ability to store carbon9 — a critical role in the fight against climate change. Tweet this fact »​​​


© Conservation International/photo by Bailey Evans

Forests growing younger

Globally, forests are getting younger and shorter as large, old trees die faster than they used to.10 This limits the amount of carbon those ecosystems can store. Tweet this fact »​​​


© John Salzaruo

Destination restoration

In the United States, there are up to 52 million hectares (127 million acres) of previously forested land that, if restored, could capture 314 million tons of carbon dioxide — equivalent to removing 67 million cars from the road each year. Tweet this fact »​​​


Bonus fact

© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier

A nod to Norway

In 2016, Norway became the first country in the world to cut public procurement contracts for companies that contribute to deforestation11 — an important step in the fight against climate change. Tweet this fact »




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  1. T.R. Aguiar Jr., K. Rasera, L.M. Parron, A.G. Brito, M.T. Ferreira (2014). Nutrient removal effectiveness by riparian buffer zones in rural temperate watersheds: The impact of no-till crops practices. Agricultural Water Management, 149 (2015), 74–80.
  2. Wilson EO, Peter FM, editors. Biodiversity. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1988. Chapter 3, Tropical Forests and Their Species Going, Going … ? Available from:
  3. United Nations Environment Programme. (2002). Global Environment Outlook 3: Past, present and future perspectives. REPORT_English.pdf
  4. World Wildlife Fund. (2021, March). Tropical Rainforests.
  5. FAO and UNEP. 2020. The State of the World’s Forests 2020. Forests, biodiversity and people. Rome.
  6. Chao, Sophie (2012). FOREST PEOPLES: Numbers across the world. Forest Peoples Programme.
  1. World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development. (1999). Our Forests, Our Future: Summary Report of the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development.
  2. Garnett, S.T., Burgess, N.D., Fa, J.E. et al. A spatial overview of the global importance of Indigenous lands for conservation. Nat Sustain 1, 369–374 (2018).
  3. Bello, C., Galetti, M., Pizo, M. A., Magnago, L. F. S., Rocha, M. F., Lima, R. A. F., Peres, C. A., Ovaskainen, O., & Jordano, P. (2015). Defaunation affects carbon storage in tropical forests. Science Advances, 1(11), e1501105.
  4. McDowell, N. G., Allen, C. D., Anderson-Teixeira, K., Aukema, B. H., Bond-Lamberty, B., Chini, L., Clark, J. S., Dietze, M., Grossiord, C., Hanbury-Brown, A., Hurtt, G. C., Jackson, R. B., Johnson, D. J., Kueppers, L., Lichstein, J. W., Ogle, K., Poulter, B., Pugh, T. A. M., Seidl, R., … Xu, C. (2020). Pervasive shifts in forest dynamics in a changing world. Science, 368(6494), eaaz9463.
  5. Rainforest Foundation Norway. (2016, May 26). Norwegian state commits to zero deforestation.