Skip to Content

Reduced consumption of forest-risk commodities

Fern’s aim is for the EU to launch an action plan to protect forests and respect rights.

Fern’s analysis: An area of forest the size of Portugal was lost globally between 2010 and 2015 because of EU consumption of commodities grown on deforested land. Such destruction often violates the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, causes massive biodiversity loss, and contributes to climate change. Deforestation, forest degradation and drained peatland in tropical regions account for 10 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions globally.

The EU is one of the largest drivers of deforestation and has publically stated its intention to be part of the solution. By signing up to Sustainable Development Goal 15, for example, the EU has committed to halting its role in deforestation by 2020. This mammoth task will require European Commission departments to work together to coordinate action to change EU consumption and production patterns including through production, energy, agriculture, trade, investment, and finance policies. Member States, NGOs and academics are therefore calling on the EU to develop an EU Action Plan to Protect Forests and Respect Rights. The EU is currently undertaking a feasibility study for an EU Action Plan to Halt Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Such an action plan can ensure the EU only imports ecologically viable levels of legally and sustainably sourced forest-risk commodities.

What Fern is doing: Fern has produced a series of reports looking at the key areas of EU action which would help protect forests and therefore meet Sustainable Development Goal 15. We facilitate an NGO coalition to work with the EU to produce an action plan to reduce its role in deforestation.

Click on the links to find out more information on:

Most recent publications

Agricultural commodity consumption in the EU - Cocoa

Cocoa consumption is a major cause of deforestation – estimated to have destroyed an area of forest the size of Belgium between 1988 and 2008. Other problems include endemic use of child labour, local tenure conflicts, and extreme poverty among cocoa farmers and their families. As the world’s largest importer, manufacturer and consumer of cocoa and cocoa products, the European Union (EU) has a special responsibility to help tackle these issues. Fern is calling for the EU to take action to ensure cocoa imports don’t cause deforestation, and pay farmers a fair income.

This is the third in a series of background notes on agricultural commodities.

DocumentSize
PDF iconCocoa_briefing_paper_WEB.pdf1.23 MB

Why agroecology should be the buzzword in EU farm policy negotiations

By Nicole Polsterer

The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) revision may be being negotiated 1000s of miles away from the sun-drenched fields in Brazil, but decisions made in Europe will have a huge effect on how such land is used.

At the end of 2017 I was able to see two very different forms of farming first-hand. One - endless biodiversity free lines of soya was destined to fatten European livestock, the other small-scale Acai berries grown within biodiversity rich forest.

I was thinking of both as I attended the United Green Left and Nordic Green Left conference Building a Manifesto for a Green and Fair CAP.

Representatives from the health, environment, animal welfare, sustainable trade, development, and agroforestry fields were meeting to convince the European Commission to make fundamental changes.

And change is certainly needed - European agriculture is in a dismal state. The average age of a European farmer is 65; 25 per cent have quit farming in the past decade; biodiversity in Europe is declining; water pollution due to run off of fertilizers is a threat to public health; and the EU imports 14 million tonnes of soya form Brazil annually, much of it grown on illegally deforested land. CAP reform could help young farmers and those transitioning to ecological practises; instead they are being driven by industrial interests.

The right to agroecology: Using the law to support sustainable farming in Brazil

This publication shows how existing national and international legal frameworks can support sustainable agriculture in Brazil, thereby reducing pressure to convert forests to large plantations.

Blog: How can EU policies halt deforestation?

By Nicole Polsterer

In the five years between 2010 and 2015, EU consumption raized an area of forests the size of Portugal. In 2012 alone, the EU imported EUR 6 billion of soy, palm, leather, and beef produced on forests illegally converted to agricultural land. So how can EU policies ensure that we, as EU citizens and consumers, are not complicit in human rights abuses and deforestation, just by eating beef, using shampoo or filling up our cars with biofuels?

Recommendations for an EU Action Plan to Protect Forests and Respect Rights

Keeping forests standing and restoring ecosystems is essential if the world is to meet biodiversity objectives and the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

DocumentSize
PDF iconinternet version.pdf1.94 MB

Pages