The Five Great Forests Initiative

The MacArthur Foundation is supporting the development of a new conservation initiative to protect the world’s great forests – the last intact primary forest landscapes.

These forests, in the Amazon, Congo Basin, tropical Southeast Asia and Melanesia, boreal North America and boreal Russia, are globally irreplaceable for their contribution to climate change mitigation potential, biodiversity and sustaining imperiled cultures.

This work is in its early stages and the MacArthur Foundation is reaching out to encourage others to participate, to invest and to play a role in shaping the design during a two-year period. The key opportunity is the recognition that intact forests can make a great, and under-appreciated, contribution to the goals of the Paris Agreement, complementary to efforts to control agricultural frontiers and restore degraded landscapes. Recognition of this will bring new impetus to a wide range of conservation efforts, policy measures and public campaigns, from protected areas and indigenous territorial management to the siting of new infrastructure and logging operations.

Preserving forests intact ensures significant climate benefits in three ways – huge emissions of stored carbon are avoided, a major active sink of carbon is maintained and local climatic regimes are moderated. Current efforts to protect intact forests are falling alarmingly short.

The 5 Great Forests Initiative envisions a world where the value of intact forests to humankind is universally recognized, loss of intact forests has ceased and the restoration of previously intact forests is underway. The Initiative will involve a broad grouping of NGOs, civil society, academics, funders, government and members of the private sector.

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