Road building threatens our forests, natural habitats and the people who depend on them.
With your help, we can keep wilderness RoadFree.
95% of forest loss occurs within 50 km of a road.
From the Amazon to Indonesian and Congo Basin forests, roads are penetrating deep into the wilderness.
Roads fragment natural habitats, degrade forest ecosystems, and put local communities and wildlife at risk.
Working with the most up to date, high-resolution satellite images, we have identified wild areas that remain untouched by human activities and that urgently require protection. These maps are a crucial tool to help decision-makers rethink road building, and with us, promote more sustainable options and better infrastructure planning.
The roadfree areas map is the fruit of collaboration between Google, the Society for Conservation Biology, and Member of the European Parliament and Rapporteur on forests, Kriton Arsenis. Most of the time we use maps to know which roads will get us from point A to point B, but the same information can help us produce a powerful tool for nature conservation.
Every green pixel of the map is at least 10km from the nearest road. It shows very concretely Earth’s terrestrial areas free of roads including forests, polar regions and deserts.
The situation is particularly dramatic in forest areas where the spread of road networks has fragmented natural habitats, endangering intact ecosystems and forest dependant populations.
To explore the roadfree map yourself, visit the Google Earth Engine Map Gallery.
With around 100 species disappearing every day, concerted action is needed in order to curb this unprecedented decline. RoadFree supports a number of Aichi targets in order to halt biodiversity loss.
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have set ambitious targets (Aichi targets) to prevent dramatic biodiversity loss by 2020. Keeping forests road free, and preventing fragmentation of natural habitats, RoadFree contributes to achieving several of these Aichi targets:
Correctly implemented, the UN programme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), can benefit biodiversity, the climate, forest communities as well as the rest of humanity.
Roadless areas are a powerful guarantee against deforestation and forest degradation. They can also help measure the performances of REDD+ activities.
The UN programme aimed at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) is often presented as a relatively cost-effective climate change mitigation strategy.
If done with the correct level of enforceable environmental and social safeguards, controls and regulations, this programme has the potential to protect biodiversity, people, and the climate.
The future of REDD+ is negotiated under various UNFCCC bodies and its future depends on the following points:
In tropical areas, satellite and land based data indicate that the opening of a new road through a forest is generally followed by the building of secondary roads (paved or unpaved) that will then trigger more degradation and deforestation (conversion to agriculture or ranching). Scientific reports agree on the fact that the majority of deforestation, fragmentation and forest degradation occurs in a “risk-zone” around infrastructure and access networks.
By promoting a global protection of roadless areas, RoadFree addresses roadbuilding as one of the major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. The initiative also proposes to use existing roads and road development, as a negative performance indicator for the five activities encompassed by REDD+: deforestation, forest degradation, conservation, management, enhancement of forest carbon stock.
The global road infrastructure makes a huge footprint on the surface of the Earth with a growth of 60% above 2010 levels expected by 2050. As 90% of this growth will occur in developing nations, multilateral investors have a major responsibility to prevent roads impacting on rich ecosystems found in wild areas.
Road Alert reports on destructive roadbuilding projects cutting through intact forests worldwide, and gathers individuals and groups acting to keep these wild places road free. Learn from their stories.
A collection of updates from the RoadFree campaign as well as a selection of global news articles covering roadbuilding stories in the context of forest protection.
April 23 2016
Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, suspended the licensing process over concerns about its impact on the indigenous community in the region. Around 10,000 Munduruku people live around the river Tapajós. The dam would flood a vast area, requiring the forced removal of at least some indigenous communities, an act that is strictly prohibited by the Brazilian constitution except in cases of disease epidemics or war.Read the article
January 21 2016
RoadFree along with a broad alliance of 59 organizations from Africa and the World calls for UNESCO and the governments of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to reach a deal to stop new oil drilling licences from being awarded in Virunga National Park and the surrounding area.Read more
January 01 2016
RoadFree along with many IntAct partners comment the Paris COP21 decision and its impact on global primary forestsRead more
December 10 2015
RoadFree along with 19 global NGO's ask the World Bank to make a clear statement at COP21 which underscores the importance of forests in climate change and poverty alleviation, and signals an intention to commit to zero deforestation across the institution’s portfolio. If all deforestation were halted tomorrow, the increased carbon sequestration in tropical forests would offset up to 38 percent of total annual greenhouse gas emissions.Read the Joint Call in the BIC
December 09 2015
RoadFree in a joint statement with Greenpeace, Global Witness, Rainforest Foundation (UK and Norway), Brainforest, Ocean DRC and RRN is asking France to phase out its support for industrial logging in the Congo. The call is based on a Global Witness report that reveals how the French Development Agency (FDA) has invested over 120 million euros in logging companies that are dismantling the world's second largest rainforest.Read more
November 28 2015
A great study examining synergies between REDD+ and the Aichi Biodiversity targets in Central Africa. This is the way to go. Roads are early warning indicators for primary forest, habitat and biodiversity loss. Let's prioritize REDD+ funding in RoadFree primary forests!Read the article
November 26 2015
Almost on the eve of the Climate Negotiations COP21 in Paris, a new study proves that tropical forests could offset much of the carbon released from the declining use of fossil fuels, helping to stabilize and then reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations, thereby providing a bridge to a low-fossil-fuel future. Let's protect them from roads. Because it takes just one road to destroy a forest.Read the article in Nature journal
November 16 2015
Roadfree will participate at a high-level discussion forum at the COP21 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris. The panel will focus on 1.predicting deforestation and degradation from early warnings, using roads as a proxy, 2. Improved global forest datasets, 3. How to anticipate and influence agricultural drivers.Read forum's agenda
October 10 2015
On the road to Paris COP21 it is always helpful to remember how a simple decision to stop opening new roads in US protected areas contributed in Climate Action and Habitat Protection. Earthjustice gives us a timeline of the 2001 Roadless Rule.Read the timeline
September 01 2015
By 2050, an area of forests the size of India is set to be wiped off the planet if humans continue on their current path of deforestation, according to a new report. That’s bad news for the creatures that depend on these forest ecosystems for survival, but it’s also bad news for the climate, as the loss of these forests will release more than 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.Read the report by the Center for Global Development
July 31 2015
A passionate initiative worth supporting. Aims at protecting the Biological Reserve of Sooretama in Brazil from the detrimental effects of a road that already passes through the reserve killing wild endangered animals. Unfortunately, a second road is already being planned.Learn more
May 15 2015
A 2013 draft of a law that recognize the sovereignty of Brazil over the Amazon’s natural resources is being brought back to life in the Brazilian Parliament. Should the law be passed, companies wanting to operate in the area would require approval from the new state entity in return for shares of the proceeds. Will this mean more respect for indigenous peoples rights and protection of the Amazon or a more systematic economic exploitation of intact forest?Read a related article on the Independent
April 20 2015
Yevgenia Chirikova is a strong woman trying to keeping Khimki primary forest free of the M11 highway. She was forced to flee Russia to save her own life and the life of her family. We wish her strength. We will keep supporting her and do our best to stop M11 and keep Khimki forest Roadfree.Read a related article on the Guardian
April 20 2015
The rapid proliferation of two new road networks in the northern Peruvian Amazon (Department of Loreto) has been detected by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). Most notably, it highlights the construction of nearly 150 km of new roads, possibly illegal logging roads, through mostly primary forest between 2013 and 2014. One of the roads is within the buffer zone of the Cordillera Azul National Park.Read the full report on MAAP
March 01 2015
RoadFree together with IntAct - a broad coalition of scientists and NGO's, published a new report on how we can protect our last primary forests: (1) recognize primary forests as a matter of global concern within international negotiations; (2) incorporate primary forests into environmental accounting; (3) prioritize the principle of avoided loss; and (4) universally accept the important role of indigenous and community conserved areas.Read the full report
February 17 2015
Among all the projects going through forests, highways seem to be the single biggest threat to tiger corridors in the Central Indian landscape, home to some 688 tigers or one-fifth of population in the wild. Two widened highways - NH6 & NH7 - alone have destroyed at least six tiger corridors. More highways are being planned, ignoring wildlife mitigation measures.Read the full article on the Times of India
February 12 2015
Manu park, is a Unesco biosphere reserve in the south-east Peruvian Amazon. According to Unesco the biodiversity there “exceeds that of any other place on earth”. All this are threaten by the "Jungle Highway"Read a related article on the Guardian
December 14 2014
RoadFree welcomes the small progress achieved in this year's climate negotiations in Lima, Peru. We stress that given the small pace of progress it will be very difficult to reach a new climate agreement next year in Paris COP21. Only through massive citizen mobilization may this agreement stand a chance. We reiterate that global warming beyond 2°C will mean the destruction of rainforest and their crucial for life on earth ecosystem services.Read more
November 18 2014
Based on a IntAct and RoadFree report, the Society for Conservation Biology asks for a moratorium on industrial activities within primary forestsRead the full declaration
September 18 2014
The participants of the IENE 2014 international conference. call for explicit consideration of roadlessness as a conservation target in national and European policy and legislation.Read the full declaration
September 04 2014
The new Intact Forest Landscapes map is out. Three countries - Canada, Russia and Brazil - alone contain 65% of the world's entire IFL area and 56% of the total IFL degradation area 2000-2013. The highest proportion of IFL degradation was found in South-East and Insular Asia countries. The countries with the highest IFL degradation in both absolute terms (area) and relative terms (percentage) are Paraguay, Australia, Bolivia, Myanmar, Gabon, Cameroon, and Malaysia.Learn more
August 22 2014
It’s now or never if the world’s surviving primary forests are to be saved. Will the international community act or continue to turn a blind eye to our planet’s key life support systems?Read the full article on the National Geographic
July 06 2014
The effects of the rapidly growing network of illegal or unofficial roads in the Amazon are usually not considered. This new study found that deforestation was much higher near roads and rivers than elsewhere in the Amazon; Nearly 95% of all deforestation occurred within 5.5 km of roads or 1 km of rivers.Read the full article on Elsevier
May 19 2014
At first, logging companies build roads to access concessions. They bring equipment, goods and villagers start using these access roads. But what happens once the logging companies are gone? In Sarawak forest, Malaysia, shorty after logging operations ceased, "the trip [to the next village] used to take four hours; today it takes nine".Read more in Inside Story:
April 01 2014
Mongabay continues with its series of interviews and asks forest experts what is the next big idea in forest conservation. For Philip Fearnside, one of the world´s most-cited scientist in the area of sustainable development: "Much more attention needs to be given to forest degradation, as by logging, fires and edge effects. Almost everyone has been concentrating on outright deforestation instead."Read full interview on Mongabay
March 20 2014
BRUSSELS, 20 March 2014 – On the eve of the 2nd International Day of Forests on Friday, March 21st, scientists join MEP Kriton Arsenis in calling for an urgent response to the threats from road development to the world’s last intact primary forests.Read the full press release in our press section
February 06 2014
We already know that there’s a connection between coca growing and deforestation. But now, a new article published in Science explains how North-America's militarised drug policies have lead to drug traffickers moving deeper into Central and South American forests, where clandestine roadbuilding and money laundering generates further impacts to both the forest and its inhabitants.Read more on Science Daily
January 21 2014
The more economies depend on trade, the more roads are built and threathen natural habitats. The Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America (IIRSA), in which Brazil is major player, is no exemption.Read more
January 14 2014
Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports on the impact that roads and infrastructure have on the environment and on local people living nearby. The writer of this thorough article also touches upon ways to develop better methods for spatial planning and alternatives to roads (article in Dutch).Read more
January 13 2014
At 4,000km long, the so-called "road to progress” has been source of conflict between the communities living along it since it was built in the early 70s. Recently, violent clashes have broken out between Teharim native Indians and non-indigenous settlers. The turmoil is fuelled by the lack of compensation for the appropriation of the Tenharim land in order to construct the road.Read more on The Independent
December 26 2013
The planned US$130-billion network of infrastructure projects, known as IIRSA, Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure of South America, aimed to link South America's economies has so far failed to respect indigenous peoples and environmental laws.Read more on The Guardian
December 20 2013
The RoadFree Initiative offers a path to protect forests, reduce emissions, and monitor REDD+ progressRead more on UNEarth news
December 18 2013
The rules governing UN REDD+ programme were agreed at last month’s UN climate talks in Warsaw. We have identified several opportunities for the future of roadfree forests in the agreed REDD+ package.Read more
December 16 2013
Images taken by National Geographic photographers while reporting on the stunning biodiversity in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, show that oil companies have been secretly building roads at the heart of the park.Read more on Mongabay
December 12 2013
December 16: RoadFree Initiative joins top experts on road-building impacts during this one day symposium in Utrecht (The Netherlands). Library Utrecht University, Boothzaal, Heidelberglaan 3.Read more
November 19 2013
This COP19 side event aims at putting the protection of roadfree areas at the forefront of international efforts to halt deforestation. The presentations will focus on recent findings related to roadbuilding impacts on deforestation and forest degradation...read more on our press section
November 04 2013
Land losses blamed as study shows Guarani-Kaiowá are 34 times more likely to kill themselves than Brazil's national average.Read more on the Guardian
October 29 2013
Roads are rapidly expanding across the Brazilian Amazon opening up once remote rainforests to loggers, miners, ranchers, farmers, and land speculators, finds a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental.Read more on Mongabay
October 23 2013
The European Parliament agrees to raise the issue of roadbuilding in intact forests at the UN Climate Change Conference to be held next month in Warsaw (Poland); it calls on parties to use the existence of roads in forest areas as an early negative performance indicator of REDD+ projects, and to prioritise the allocation of REDD+ funds towards road free forests...Read the full press release in our press section
October 03 2013
France looks into bribery allegations against Vinci Russian unitRead more on Reuters
October 02 2013
On October 6th and 7th, RoadFree will be present at the 10th World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca to celebrate and debate on the world's wildernessesRead more
September 26 2013
A man-made reservoir in Thailand has given biologists the opportunity to measure the speed of mammal extinctions and it happens fast!Read more on New York Times
RoadFree aims to halt the expansion of roads into Earth's last wild places.
RoadFree was initiated in 2012 by the environmentalist Kriton Arsenis, who was then the European Parliament's rapporteur on forest protection. It functions as a platform to facilitate synergies between citizen movements, NGOs and institutions who have chosen cost-efficient solutions to protect the environment.
We invite you to be a part of the effort.