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

Conference: Protecting forests, respecting rights

On 30 March 2015, Fern hosted a conference looking at how to develop an EU Action Plan on Deforestation. This is important as the EU's consumption of agricultural commodities and timber has resulted in the destruction of at least 9 million hectares of forest, equivalent to the size of Ireland, over the period 1990 - 2008.

Protecting Forests, Respecting Rights: Options for EU Action on deforestation and forest degradation

This report examines the EU’s “Deforestation Footprint” – its role in global deforestation. It looks at important action the EU has taken, through the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to improve how forests are owned and managed in timber-exporting countries and to prevent imports of illegal tropical timber entering EU borders.

Blueprint for change: How the EU can stop the illegal destruction of tropical forests

This press release launches Fern's new campaign to deal with the EU drivers of deforestation. It outlines the scale of the problem and the comprehensive steps the EU can take to tackle it. Find out more by visiting or

PDF iconBlueprint for change Final.pdf318.35 KB

The Power of Public Purchasing: making EU public procurement policy work for people and forests

This report examines how procurement policies have been applied in timber procurement and to agricultural products in public catering and food. It finds that many EU governments require publicly procured timber and timber products to be legal, as evidenced by certain certification schemes, but miss the opportunity to encourage a market for FLEGT-licensed products.

Less and Better: Making EU Consumption Policies Work for People and Forests

This report explores possible solutions to the EU's huge foodprint, including the opportunity to link health and environmental benefits in encouraging deforestation-free consumption. The study identifies action points, such as tackling food waste and requiring product labelling and transparent information that would allow consumers to assess the embodied deforestation of a product and choose accordingly.

PDF iconLess and Better.pdf5.99 MB

Duty Free? Making EU tariffs Work for People and Forests

This report asks whether the EU can set lower tariffs for products identified as sustainably produced. It raises issues surrounding practical implications of doing so, such as World Trade Organisation applicability and political acceptability, as well as how the design of such measures should be approached.

PDF iconDuty Free.pdf2.27 MB