A major international conference on "Intact Forests in the 21st Century" took place in Oxford on 18 – 20 June 2018, hosted by the University of Oxford in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The conference brought together leading scientists, researchers, policy experts and practitioners from around the world to review and debate the current state of knowledge relating to intact forests, their values, the threats they face, and the most appropriate responses.

A Declaration on Intact Forests in the 21st Century

Following the stimulating 3-day conference a declaration has been issued stating the importance of and urgency for international recognition of intact forests. The organisers would be pleased to hear from individuals and organisations who would like to be associated with the declaration. Those interested can contact us through the conference email: | Download declaration (English) | French | Russian | Portuguese | Indonesian.

Final Programme View presentations Conference summary report

Invitation to submit to a special issue on Intact Forests

Following the Oxford symposium on Intact Forests in the 21st Century, we would like to invite submissions to a special issue on “Intact Forests” in the open access journal “Frontiers in Forest and Global Change”.

The call is open equally to symposium participants and to anybody else interested in the topic. We welcome submissions of full articles, policy perspectives and methods papers, which directly address the threats, values, definitions and policy instruments available to protect, maintain and/or enhance intact forest areas. Please note that the scope of this topic goes well beyond the ‘Intact Forest Landscapes’ mapping approach (as popularized by Greenpeace, the University of Maryland and others) and so we would encourage submissions involving a wide range of other analytical frameworks too.

There are currently two deadlines, one for submission of abstracts on September 17 and a final submission deadline of December 15, 2018. Invitations for full submissions will be made at the abstract stage. As this journal is open access there will be some publishing fees (around $US 900 for full papers, $400-600 for perspectives or methods papers); however, there will be some full or partial waivers available for authors based in developing countries and students as well as on a case by case basis for those who do not have access to other funds.

We are currently collating a list of potential lead authors to provide to the journal. If you would be interested to contribute to this special issue, could you please email, stating your name, contact details and a provisional title for the article so the journal will be able to follow up with you directly. At this stage the list is for planning purposes and is not binding.

We hope that this special issue will continue the momentum built by the symposium, and result in a valuable collection of the latest science and policy knowledge on the topic of the world’s least-degraded forests, which will be freely available to the public.

Conference themes:

Part 1

Intact Forests: definitions, measuring, mapping, values, threats and trends

We recognise this is an active area of development without a unified set of conceptual frameworks nor affordable/reliable methods for their identification. We are agnostic as to the "best" approach that will be applicable in all forest contexts; however, we hope these sessions can push the debate towards developing a framework that does a better job of accommodating the current range of perspectives.

Part 2

Management options and policy interventions to maintain intactness

We envision these sessions as an opportunity to critically discuss the range of international, national and regional efforts to manage and maintain intact forests, including their current effectiveness, limitations and potential applicability at different geographic scales. We are hoping for a debate around more innovative ways to allow for multiple uses of these landscapes while also maintaining the values that accompany forest intactness.

Aim of the meeting

To bring together researchers and practitioners attempting to define and map "intact forests", those assessing the threats acting on these areas and the societal values derived from them, as well as those able to speak to the effectiveness of current efforts to maintain these values. An intended outcome of this meeting will be a declaration for participants to sign, identifying promising areas for further action to maintain current levels of intactness and the additional research needed to support that goal.

Scope of the meeting

The working definition of "intact forest" for the purposes of this conference is 'forest free of significant anthropogenic degradation' where anthropogenic degradation includes all human activities known to cause physical changes in a forest (including faunal changes) that lead to declines of ecological function. However, we appreciate the implementation of this definition across regions and ecotones will vary, and we intend this meeting to contribute to the development of an inclusive framework for achieving that.

All forest ecosystems are considered – tropical, temperate, boreal. The conference is not limited to systems with no trace of human influence – indeed it is commonly stated that such places no longer exist and in many cases have not existed in the recent past. The definition above is expected to stimulate scientific and policy debate around questions such as:

  • How can forest intactness and degradation be quantified? What constitutes significant degradation in this context, and how does that vary between different functions of a forest? On what scale is this occurring?
  • What are effective responses by various sectors of society to avoid declines in intact forest and what role does national and global policy play?

The conference will have two main technical sections, each approx. 1.5 days and spread over 4 sessions:

  • Section 1 - The geography of intactness – definitions, metrics, mapping, threats and values
  • Section 2 - Management options and policy interventions

Each session will comprise a combination of formal presentations by prominent scientists and practitioners as well as a carousel round of 3-4 five minute presentations to allow for a broader range of perspectives to be represented, followed by ample plenary discussion.

Additional sessions will be devoted to introductory presentations, to discussion of a proposed 'Intact Forests Declaration' which delegates will be invited to sign as well as a closing synthesis.

There will be space at the venue to present posters.

Final Programme View presentations

The exceptional value of intact forest ecosystems

This recently published paper in Nature Ecology and Evolution highlights many of the issues to be discussed at the conference. Read paper.

Conference Contact

For enquiries about the conference, please contact Emily Read. | +44 (0)1865 285190

Conference Partners

Wildlife Conservation Society Environmental Change Institute OCTF