Keeping our forests standing is one of WWF's top priorities when it comes to tackling climate change.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide, so they help to keep levels of greenhouse gases - and climate change - in check. But when they're cut down or burnt, the carbon they hold is released back into the atmosphere. Deforestation and forest degradation are currently responsible for up to 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Halting forest devastation
At the moment, net forest loss (the amount cut down compared to what's replanted or re-grown) stands at about 70,000 sq km a year. We believe this must be reduced to zero by 2020 to help prevent dangerous climate change.
But we realise that developing countries, where much of this deforestation takes place, need both incentives and support to reduce forest clearance and emissions. The UN-backed Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries plus schemes (REDD+) tries to do just that. And, with funding from the UK government and others, we're trying to ensure REDD+ is implemented effectively. WWF works globally to advance this policy, and on the ground in areas where it's most urgent to tackle deforestation - including the Amazon, the Heart of Borneo and Papua New Guinea.
Of course, maintaining forests isn't just about tackling climate change. It's also critical to the survival of the amazing biodiversity living within them. And will help safeguard the 1.6 billion people worldwide, including 60 million indigenous people, who rely on forests for their lives and livelihoods.
We try to ensure REDD+ benefits people and wildlife too. For example we work to support local communities that conserve and sustainably manage the forest. That way, everybody can be a winner - local people make a better living, biodiversity thrives, and all of us benefit from a safer climate.
- 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods.
- Deforestation and forest degradation cause up to 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- About 70,000 sq km of forest is lost each year.