The world’s most endangered rainforests



Slide 1 of 26: From Borneo to the Amazon, many of the world's key rainforests – and endemic species – are currently under threat. Sadly, deforestation is rife around the world, whether that’s for logging, extracting natural resources or agricultural demands. Shockingly, rainforests now only cover approximately 6% of the Earth’s surface (it was once more than double that), but they're still as intriguing as ever...
Slide 2 of 26: Spanning an enormous 6.7 million km2 (that’s twice the size of India, for perspective), the Amazon rainforest is the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world, and contains a staggering 10% of the world’s biodiversity.
Slide 3 of 26: The Amazon rainforest and river basin are home to thousands of species of animals, including the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world. You’ll also find river dolphins, jaguars, sloths, macaws and poison dart frogs (pictured).
Slide 4 of 26: But, in the last 50 years alone, the Amazon rainforest has lost at least 17% of its forest cover from a combination of deforestation, population density and infrastructure advances. Pictured, you can see how significant parts of the Amazon rainforest have been turned into farmland for rearing cattle.
Slide 5 of 26: The island of New Guinea, off Australia, is a tropical paradise and one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. Some of the world’s key rivers – such as the Mamberamo – flow through New Guinea’s luscious forests.
Slide 6 of 26: On top of verdant landscapes, New Guinea is home to an abundance of wildlife. In fact, the island boasts as many bird and plant species as Australia, despite occupying only 1/10th of the land area. Popular residents include the wonderfully flamboyant birds of paradise (pictured) and tree kangaroos – many of which are at threat due to habitat destruction.
Slide 7 of 26: A combination of mining, oil rigging and industrial logging means that New Guinea’s magical forests, and the species within them, are sadly at risk. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly World Wildlife Fund), more than 2% of the forests on the island have already been felled.
Slide 8 of 26: Equivalent to Texas or France in size, Madagascar is home to more than 250,000 species, 70% of which are endemic. Sadly, the WWF reports that less than 10% of Madagascar’s original forest cover exists today, due to land being cleared for cattle, illegal tree cutting and agriculture.
Slide 9 of 26: Lemurs may be native to Madagascar – there are more than 50 different kinds – but today, 10 of these species are critically endangered, seven are endangered and 19 are considered vulnerable. Chameleons, geckos and snakes are also at risk of being captured by the wildlife trade.
Slide 10 of 26: Occupying a staggering 500 million acres, the Congo Basin is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest. It’s so sizeable, it spans six countries, including Cameroon and Gabon. Alongside swamps, savannas and forests, the Congo is also home to verdant forests – and chimpanzees.
Slide 11 of 26: It's home to more than 75 million people – but population density, plus agricultural development and the creation of roads have all put pressure on the forests here. Illegal animal poaching, and the extraction of natural resources such as timber, diamonds and petrol, have all wreaked havoc on the landscape too.
Slide 12 of 26: It may be one of the world’s most diverse regions, second only to the Amazon, but Brazil's Atlantic Forest is one of the most at risk. Animals including jaguars, three-toed sloths and red-tailed parrots all reside there.
Slide 13 of 26: Agricultural developments, namely the creation of soybean fields such as those pictured, plus deforestation for the production of timber, sugar cane, coffee and cattle, have resulted in severe habitat loss (only 7% of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest exists today), forcing many endemic species to the brink of extinction.
Slide 14 of 26: Brazil’s Cerrado covers more than 20% of Brazil (it’s the size of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined) and its trees and verdant spaces are a haven for a number of bird species, such as the red-legged seriema, the emu and the critically endangered Spix’s macaw. Like Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, it’s also a highly threatened region.
Slide 15 of 26: Deforestation from soybean production and cattle rearing has seriously affected the Cerrado; only 20% of its original vegetation remains. What’s more, the remaining land is at high risk, with only 3% being legally protected.
Slide 16 of 26: As rich in diversity as Borneo and New Guinea, The Sumatran Lowland Rain Forests may be some of the most diverse forests, but they’re equally as threatened. They’re home to more than 450 species of bird, plus a number of endangered species including the Asian elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros.
Slide 17 of 26: It’s thought that more than 3,000 km2 of forest is lost each year to logging, hunting and palm oil production – the latter can be clearly seen in this photo, where precious sections of rainforest have been stripped.
Slide 18 of 26: The vast Greater Mekong region spreads across Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and parts of southern China.
Slide 19 of 26: The forests of Greater Mekong are home to the largest combined tiger habitat in the world but, according to the WWF, numbers of tigers have fallen by a staggering 70% in recent years. 
Slide 20 of 26: The WWF warns that the Greater Mekong region risks losing more than a third of its remaining forest cover within the next 20 years – with land being lost to deforestation, overpopulation, infrastructure and construction.
Slide 21 of 26: Book-ended by the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, the Valdivian Forests are celebrated for their sheer number of native species and animals (over 90% of species are endemic). However, rapid deforestation – namely for logging and firewood – is putting this verdant and diversity-rich habitat at risk.
Slide 22 of 26: They once covered more than 26% of Sri Lanka, but rainforests now cover less than 2% of the island, in part due to colonization and civil war. Unsurprisingly, all remaining rainforests are now protected areas, with the Sinharaja Forest Reserve – home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic mammals and butterflies – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Slide 23 of 26: Divided between the countries of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is also home to some of the oldest rainforests. Here, you’ll find all manner of endemic species, from the Bornean orangutan, to the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros and the dayak fruit bat.   Now discover the amazing animal encounters in every US state
Slide 24 of 26: But, like many tropical rainforests around the world, Borneo is experiencing significant deforestation, particularly for the extraction of resources such as timber, palm oil, pulp, rubber and minerals, with one of the biggest drivers being the global demand for palm oil. While protection laws are in effect throughout Borneo, they are often disregarded.  See these secret wonders hidden in the world's largest deserts
Slide 25 of 26: Sadly, many of Borneo's rainforest inhabitants, such as orangutans and elephants, are endangered and could be at risk of extinction if deforestation continues; larger animals such as these require huge areas of uninterrupted rainforest to survive – something that’s becoming less and less common with the creation of roads throughout the rainforest.  Discover the world's most beautiful destinations where tourists fear to tread
Slide 26 of 26: Tragically, illegal poaching – enabled by the rising number of roads and development of infrastructure – also continues to be a key threat to animals, especially orangutans.  Check out these unbelievable images of the unexplored world you'll only see in photos

It’s a jungle out there

From Borneo to the Amazon, many of the world’s key rainforests – and endemic species – are currently under threat. Sadly, deforestation is rife around the world, whether that’s for logging, extracting natural resources or agricultural demands. Shockingly, rainforests now only cover approximately 6% of the Earth’s surface (it was once more than double that), but they’re still as intriguing as ever …

Amazon rainforest

Spanning an enormous 6.7 million km2 (that’s twice the size of India, for perspective), the Amazon rainforest is the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world, and contains a staggering 10% of the world’s biodiversity.

Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest and river basin are home to thousands of species of animals, including the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world. You’ll also find river dolphins, jaguars, sloths, macaws and poison dart frogs (pictured).

Amazon rainforest

But, in the last 50 years alone, the Amazon rainforest has lost at least 17% of its forest cover from a combination of deforestation, population density and infrastructure advances. Pictured, you can see how significant parts of the Amazon rainforest have been turned into farmland for rearing cattle.

New Guinea

The island of New Guinea, off Australia, is a tropical paradise and one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet. Some of the world’s key rivers – such as the Mamberamo – flow through New Guinea’s luscious forests.

New Guinea

On top of verdant landscapes, New Guinea is home to an abundance of wildlife. In fact, the island boasts as many bird and plant species as Australia, despite occupying only 1/10th of the land area. Popular residents include the wonderfully flamboyant birds of paradise (pictured) and tree kangaroos – many of which are at threat due to habitat destruction.

New Guinea

A combination of mining, oil rigging and industrial logging means that New Guinea’s magical forests, and the species within them, are sadly at risk. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly World Wildlife Fund), more than 2% of the forests on the island have already been felled.

Madagascar rainforest

Equivalent to Texas or France in size, Madagascar is home to more than 250,000 species, 70% of which are endemic. Sadly, the WWF reports that less than 10% of Madagascar’s original forest cover exists today, due to land being cleared for cattle, illegal tree cutting and agriculture.

Madagascar rainforest

Lemurs may be native to Madagascar – there are more than 50 different kinds – but today, 10 of these species are critically endangered, seven are endangered and 19 are considered vulnerable. Chameleons, geckos and snakes are also at risk of being captured by the wildlife trade.

The Congo Basin, Africa

Occupying a staggering 500 million acres, the Congo Basin is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest. It’s so sizeable, it spans six countries, including Cameroon and Gabon. Alongside swamps, savannas and forests, the Congo is also home to verdant forests – and chimpanzees.

The Congo Basin, Africa

It’s home to more than 75 million people – but population density, plus agricultural development and the creation of roads have all put pressure on the forests here. Illegal animal poaching, and the extraction of natural resources such as timber, diamonds and petrol, have all wreaked havoc on the landscape too.

Atlantic Forest, Brazil

It may be one of the world’s most diverse regions, second only to the Amazon, but Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is one of the most at risk. Animals including jaguars, three-toed sloths and red-tailed parrots all reside there.

Atlantic Forest, Brazil

Agricultural developments, namely the creation of soybean fields such as those pictured, plus deforestation for the production of timber, sugar cane, coffee and cattle, have resulted in severe habitat loss (only 7% of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest exists today), forcing many endemic species to the brink of extinction.

Cerrado, Brazil

Brazil’s Cerrado covers more than 20% of Brazil (it’s the size of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined) and its trees and verdant spaces are a haven for a number of bird species, such as the red-legged seriema, the emu and the critically endangered Spix’s macaw. Like Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, it’s also a highly threatened region.

Cerrado, Brazil

Deforestation from soybean production and cattle rearing has seriously affected the Cerrado; only 20% of its original vegetation remains. What’s more, the remaining land is at high risk, with only 3% being legally protected.

Sumatra, Indonesia

As rich in diversity as Borneo and New Guinea, The Sumatran Lowland Rain Forests may be some of the most diverse forests, but they’re equally as threatened. They’re home to more than 450 species of bird, plus a number of endangered species including the Asian elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros.

Sumatra, Indonesia

It’s thought that more than 3,000 km2 of forest is lost each year to logging, hunting and palm oil production – the latter can be clearly seen in this photo, where precious sections of rainforest have been stripped.

Greater Mekong, Southeast Asia

The vast Greater Mekong region spreads across Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and parts of southern China.

Greater Mekong, Southeast Asia

The forests of Greater Mekong are home to the largest combined tiger habitat in the world but, according to the WWF, numbers of tigers have fallen by a staggering 70% in recent years. 

Greater Mekong, Southeast Asia

The WWF warns that the Greater Mekong region risks losing more than a third of its remaining forest cover within the next 20 years – with land being lost to deforestation, overpopulation, infrastructure and construction.

Valdivian Forests, Chile and Argentina

Book-ended by the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, the Valdivian Forests are celebrated for their sheer number of native species and animals (over 90% of species are endemic). However, rapid deforestation – namely for logging and firewood – is putting this verdant and diversity-rich habitat at risk.

Sri Lanka

They once covered more than 26% of Sri Lanka, but rainforests now cover less than 2% of the island, in part due to colonization and civil war. Unsurprisingly, all remaining rainforests are now protected areas, with the Sinharaja Forest Reserve – home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s endemic mammals and butterflies – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Borneo, Malaysia

Divided between the countries of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is also home to some of the oldest rainforests. Here, you’ll find all manner of endemic species, from the Bornean orangutan, to the eastern Sumatran rhinoceros and the dayak fruit bat. 

Borneo, Malaysia

But, like many tropical rainforests around the world, Borneo is experiencing significant deforestation, particularly for the extraction of resources such as timber, palm oil, pulp, rubber and minerals, with one of the biggest drivers being the global demand for palm oil. While protection laws are in effect throughout Borneo, they are often disregarded.

Borneo, Malaysia

Sadly, many of Borneo’s rainforest inhabitants, such as orangutans and elephants, are endangered and could be at risk of extinction if deforestation continues; larger animals such as these require huge areas of uninterrupted rainforest to survive – something that’s becoming less and less common with the creation of roads throughout the rainforest.

Borneo, Malaysia

Tragically, illegal poaching – enabled by the rising number of roads and development of infrastructure – also continues to be a key threat to animals, especially orangutans.

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