Global Forest Resources Assessments

Rich and diverse: primary forests in the Asia-Pacific region

Photo credits ©FAO/Kenichi Shono

15 November 2021 – The FAO-led experts' exchange on primary forests continues with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region this week. Representatives from several countries in the region, international organizations, and academia are meeting from the 15th to the 19th of November 2021 to review national definitions as well as monitoring and reporting methods on primary forests and their changes in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Government of Australia has teamed up with FAO in organizing the event. “Australia is excited to host and facilitate this workshop on improving reporting on primary forests in the Asia-Pacific region. We work closely with our regional partners to protect and sustainably manage the rich, diverse forests of the Asia-Pacific, and look forward to sharing experiences and ideas” said Ms. Emma Campbell, First Assistant Secretary of the Agvet Chemicals, Fisheries, Forestry & Engagement Division at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

This workshop is part of a series of events to review countries’ approaches to monitoring primary forests. Other events earlier in the year focused on primary forests in boreal biomes as well as in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The consultations will eventually inform a special study initiated by FAO in 2019 in close collaboration with FAO members and in partnership with a number of international conventions and institutions including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The overall aim is to enhance the consistency, comparability, completeness, and quality of the data on primary forests reported to the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) by improving existing reporting guidelines and methodologies. The activity also relates to another FAO regional initiative that aims at developing a roadmap for primary forest conservation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Key indicators of conservation and biodiversity

According to FRA 2020, there are still around 89 million hectares of primary forests in the Asia-Pacific region. Participants in the experts’ exchange include representatives from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Solomon Islands, and Thailand. Together, these countries contain a large area of primary forest across different climatic domains: temperate, tropical, and subtropical.

Primary forest area and trends over time are among the key biodiversity and conservation indicators of FRA and relate to other processes as well. For example, primary forest data submitted to FRA indirectly contribute to reporting on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 15.2.1 (progress towards sustainable forest management). In addition, Tropical Primary Tree Cover Loss is mentioned among the potential complementary indicators of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework of the UN CBD.

At the COP26 in Glasgow, more than 140 countries accounting for about 90% of global tree cover and most of the world’s primary tropical forests have signed the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation” by 2030.

Primary forests are under increasing pressure from a range of threats including, but not limited to, agricultural expansion, climate change and natural disasters, population growth, overexploitation, illegal logging, and infrastructure development.

“Better knowledge on primary forests and their dynamics will be critical to monitor the progress towards the SDGs and the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework as well as the commitment to halt deforestation under the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use”, said Anssi Pekkarinen, Senior Forestry Officer, Global Forest Resources Assessment.

The European Union, the Government of Norway, and the Global Environment Facility provided financial support for this activity.

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