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Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities

Below, see our source information for each data layer presented in the Atlas of Forest Landscape Restoration Opportunities:

Current forest coverage

The map of current forests shows the global extent of forest coverage, including categories of forest density. It is based on a combination of two satellite-derived products: 1) a global forest map derived from MODIS 250m data for the period 2000 to 2009 (South Dakota State University, 2011, unpublished dataset), which was used to map the general extent of forests independent of canopy density; and 2) a tree canopy density map derived from the MODIS vegetation continuous fields (VCF) data (Hansen et al., 2003), which was used to separate classes of tree density (e.g. closed, open, and woodland).

Cite as: Peter Potapov, Matthew Hansen, and Svetlana Turubanova. 2011. Global forest extent derived using MODIS 250m data. University of Maryland.

Potential forest coverage

The map of potential forests represents an estimate of where forests would grow under current climate conditions and without human influence. The main source of data for defining potential forest extent is the terrestrial ecoregions of the world (Olson et al., 2001). Each ecoregion was classified as belonging to one of four categories: dense forests, open forests, woodlands, or non-forest, depending on its description (including current and potential vegetation) and its proportion of different forest types, with additional input from the following datasets: current forest extent (see above); bioclimatic zoning and original forest cover extent (FAO, 1999; Bryant et al., 1997; Zomer et al., 2008); and a forest distribution map produced by modeling based on global climate variables and elevation.

Cite as: Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. 2011. Global map of potential forest cover. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. Online at www.wri.org/forest-restoration-atlas.

Forest condition

A comparison of the maps of current and potential forests makes it possible to identify forest condition, including areas of historical forest loss and degradation. There are four basic categories for forest condition:

  • Intact: No forest conversion or degradation has taken place;
  • Fragmented/managed: Natural forests and woodlands that have experienced some level of timber extraction (e.g., selectively logged forests or secondary forests) or are managed as plantations.
  • Degraded: A reduction in the volume, tree canopy cover and biodiversity of forested areas;
  • Deforested: Formerly forested areas that have been converted to other non-forest land uses.

Cite as: Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. 2011. Global map of forest condition. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. Online at www.wri.org/forest-restoration-atlas.

Restoration opportunities

Data on forest condition and current land use were used to derive the map of opportunities for restoration on degraded lands. The land-use data sets include population density, urbanized or industrial areas, and cropland distribution. Areas with high population density or those occupied by intensively managed croplands were considered as having no or low forest restoration potential. Areas with scattered cropland areas, pastures, agroforestry and all types of forest plantations were considered as providing promising opportunities for restoration. Deforested and degraded forest lands were divided into four categories, resulting in a map of restoration opportunity areas and other former forest lands:

  • Wide-scale restoration: Less than 10 people per square kilometer and potential to support closed forest.
  • Mosaic restoration: Moderate human pressure (between 10 and 100 people per square km).
  • Remote restoration: Very low human pressure (density of less than one person per square km within a 500-km radius).
  • Forests without restoration needs: Intact forests.

Other former forest lands:

  • Agricultural land: Croplands with intensive usage for food production (Pittman, et al., 2010).
  • Recent tropical deforestation: Loss of humid tropical forest between 2000 and 2005 (Hansen, et al., 2008).
  • Urban areas: Densely populated and industrialized areas (LandScan, 2005).

Cite as: Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. 2011. Global map of forest landscape restoration opportunities. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. Online at www.wri.org/forest-restoration-atlas.

Human pressure

A map of land-use intensity (human pressure) was used to assess opportunities for restoration of degraded lands as well as classify degraded lands according to suitability for different types of restoration. Several separately-mapped land-use classes were combined to make the land use intensity map, including population density, built-up areas, pasturelands, croplands and cultivated areas. The resulting data were divided into the following three categories of human pressure:

  • High: Lands with high population density (more than 100 persons per square km), croplands, and urban areas. These lands offer opportunities for protective restoration only (e.g., buffering waterways near croplands; erosion prevention on steep slopes; and storm water runoff mitigation).
  • Moderate: Lands with a rural population density between 10 and 100 persons per square km. These lands offer opportunities for mosaic restoration.
  • Low: lands with a rural population density of less than 10 persons per square km. These lands offer opportunities for wide-scale restoration.

Cite as: Peter Potapov, Lars Laestadius, and Susan Minnemeyer. 2011. Global map of human pressure on the world's forests. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC. Online at www.wri.org/forest-restoration-atlas.

Bonn Challenge

At the invitation of the German Government and IUCN, the Bonn Challenge was established at a ministerial roundtable in September 2011 and calls for the restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands worldwide by 2020. The map marks the general locations where countries, regional organizations, businesses, and other entities have pledged to restore forests toward meeting the Bonn Challenge. Learn more, here.

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