mountain forest loss quickening


Scientists are warning that mountain forests, some of the world’s most biologically rich areas, are disappearing at an alarming rate, posing a threat to nature.

Researchers studying satellite data have discovered that more than 7% of mountain forests have vanished since 2000, an area larger than Texas. Logging and wildfires caused most of the loss, followed by agriculture. Tropical areas, which are key nature habitats, have seen much of that loss, putting threatened species in even greater danger.

A study led by Leeds University and the Southern University of Science and Technology in China, published in the journal One Earth, tracked changes in mountain tree cover worldwide between 2001 and 2018, comparing different types of forests at different altitudes, in order to study how the losses affected nature.

According to the researchers, mountain areas are home to more than 85% of the world’s birds, mammals, and amphibians, with forested mountain areas being particularly important habitats for nature and wildlife. While the relative inaccessibility of these areas once protected them, they have been increasingly deforested this century as lower-lying areas have become depleted or gained protection.

The study shows that we are losing mountain forests more quickly than before, with the speed of loss accelerating by 50% between 2010 and 2018 compared to the period between 2001 and 2009. The most significant losses were in Asia, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia. The researchers singled out the expansion of farming into highland areas of Southeast Asia as a major cause of the acceleration.

Protected forests fared better, but the researchers warned that it was vital that tree cover was preserved over large enough areas to allow species to roam naturally. They also stressed the importance of taking people living in mountain forest areas into account. Any new conservation measures, they said, “need to reconcile the need for enhanced forest protection with ensuring food production and human wellbeing.”



At Natural World Fund, we are passionate about stopping the decline in our wildlife.

The declines in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their declines towards extinction.

When you help to restore a patch of degraded land through rewilding to forests, meadows, or wetlands, you have a massive impact on the biodiversity at a local level. You give animals a home and food that they otherwise would not have had, and it has a positive snowball effect for the food chain.

We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.

This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!

Support our work today at and join in the solution!

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