WCS and WWF issued a report this week revealing that nearly a million square kilometers, or 386,000 square miles, of tropical intact forest landscapes (IFLs) are overlapped by extractive industries thereby posing a significant threat to these pristine regions. The report says that oil and gas contracts overlap some 8 percent of IFLs – some 408,000 square kilometers (157,529 square miles) or roughly the size of California. Mining claims overlap an even larger area: some 11 percent of all IFLs – 590,000 square kilometers (227,800 square miles), an area larger than France.

Direct impacts to IFLs from activities such as exploration drilling (e.g. footprint of drill pads) can be limited, but the indirect impacts such as exploration infrastructure (e.g. rights of way, roads and power lines creating access to remote areas and fragmenting the forest) are usually more substantial.  Additionally, in several cases the presence of large numbers of staff in remote areas can lead to illegal activities such as bushmeat hunting or trade of other local resources. The report provides a list of eight recommendations to offset the impacts of extractive industries on IFLs. 

The report was issued as conservationists from around the world gathered this week for a major international conference on “Intact Forests in the 21st Century." Many of the world’s leading experts in the field—scientists, researchers, policy experts, and conservationists—showcased the latest findings on intact forests, their benefits, the threats, and the best methods to protect them.

Download the report here.