Biodiversity in tropical, temperate forests under threat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 12:00am

Forests are rich in biodiversity. Tropical forests contain over 60 per cent of the 250,000 known plant species. Less than 1.5 million of the world's estimated five to 30 million species have been scientifically described and the majority of these are in tropical forests.

Temperate forests are thought to be as diverse, if not more so, than tropical forests. For instance, about 250 species of insects and 120,000 individual mites per square metre of leaf litter are found in temperate forests in the United States.

Logging is a major cause of deforestation and it is threatening global biodiversity. The rate of deforestation increases daily. Logging was the main cause of deforestation in the 1980s. It was estimated that 16.9 million hectares (equivalent to half of Hong Kong's total area) of forest were cut in a year. Over 40 per cent of tropical forests have been destroyed since 1940. The number of trees felled in temperate forests is increasing slowly. These forests can be replaced by plantations or they degrade to scrub, which support a smaller variety of wildlife.

WWF HK aims to build a future in which people can live in harmony with nature. For information, call 2526-1011 or visit the Web site