1. Why prioritize primary forests? What about secondary forests?

We need to prioritize primary forests because:

  • Primary forests maximize biodiversity protection, carbon storage and ecosystem services: they protect the vast majority of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity (at least two thirds) and store massive amounts of carbon more than enough to cause catastrophic climate if released. Primary tropical forests alone store about 150 billion tons of carbon.
  • Primary forests store far more carbon per hectare than degraded forests, and by virtue of the fact that they still retain all of their biodiversity, are also more stable (i.e., more resistant and resilient to natural disturbance). This means they not only store more carbon, but also store carbon more securely for the long term because their carbon is at lower risk of being emitted.
  • Once cleared or degraded, primary forests can take centuries to recover, and may never recover. Their species and carbon are certainly irrecoverable by the 2050 target date for resolving the climate and biodiversity crises.
  • It is critical to avoid “the first cut”: once industrial activity and roads or other rights of way move into a primary tropical forest, it becomes much more difficult to protect and conserve.
  • Even small remnants of primary forest are vital. They are often vital refugia for threatened species, and essential building blocks for restoration efforts in fragmented landscapes.

Secondary forests are also important to protect and restore. However, we cannot solve the climate and biodiversity crises if we do not protect primary forests.

2. A moratorium on industrial activity does not exclude indigenous peoples or local communities.

Our call for a moratorium on industrial activity fully recognizes and upholds rights based approaches. We believe that redirecting perverse subsidies for industrial activities (which total about a trillion dollars a year) and dedicating far more climate funding to primary forest protection and ecological restoration (currently less than 3% of climate funding goes to forests, let alone primary forests) can provide economic alternatives and significant support for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, including those that were previously reliant on industrial extraction in primary forests.

3. Is the Primary Forest Alliance an organization?

The Primary Forest Alliance is not a registered non-profit organization. It is an initiative to promote primary forest conservation led by the organizations that form the Primary Forest Alliance Steering Committee, and comprising many organizations who share the objective of primary forest conservation and have signed-on to our call for a moratorium.