Anthropogenic modification of forests means only 40% of remaining forests have high ecosystem integrity

H. S. Grantham, A. Duncan, T. D. Evans, K. R. Jones, H. L. Beyer, R. Schuster, J. Walston, J. C. Ray, J. G. Robinson, M. Callow, T. Clements, H. M. Costa, A. DeGemmis, P. R. Elsen, J. Ervin, P. Franco, E. Goldman, S. Goetz, A. Hansen, E. HofsvangP. Jantz, S. Jupiter, A. Kang, P. Langhammer, W. F. Laurance, S. Lieberman, M. Linkie, Y. Malhi, S. Maxwell, M. Mendez, R. Mittermeier, N. J. Murray, H. Possingham, J. Radachowsky, S. Saatchi, C. Samper, J. Silverman, A. Shapiro, B. Strassburg, T. Stevens, E. Stokes, R. Taylor, T. Tear, R. Tizard, O. Venter, P. Visconti, S. Wang, J. E.M. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Many global environmental agendas, including halting biodiversity loss, reversing land degradation, and limiting climate change, depend upon retaining forests with high ecological integrity, yet the scale and degree of forest modification remain poorly quantified and mapped. By integrating data on observed and inferred human pressures and an index of lost connectivity, we generate a globally consistent, continuous index of forest condition as determined by the degree of anthropogenic modification. Globally, only 17.4 million km2 of forest (40.5%) has high landscape-level integrity (mostly found in Canada, Russia, the Amazon, Central Africa, and New Guinea) and only 27% of this area is found in nationally designated protected areas. Of the forest inside protected areas, only 56% has high landscape-level integrity. Ambitious policies that prioritize the retention of forest integrity, especially in the most intact areas, are now urgently needed alongside current efforts aimed at halting deforestation and restoring the integrity of forests globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5978
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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