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Finance and trade

Fern wants EU financial institutions to stop funding forest destruction and human rights abuses.

The financial sector plays a crucial role in enabling activities that lead to forest loss and unfair treatment of forest communities, including providing project finance and financial services that enable forest loss. The EU financial sector’s role in funding and facilitating the expansion of large scale environmentally and socially destructive agriculture is significant.

Fern works to curb this negative impact by strengthening the framework of laws, rules and accepted practices governing how EU banks and Financial Institutions handle investments and transactions relating to forests and forest communities, especially land tenure. We research ways that Anti-Money Laundering rules can be used to tackle illicit money flows related to illegal logging.

Fern’s research has been compiled into a blueprint for an Action Plan on deforestation: ‘Protecting Forests, Respecting Rights’. ‘Clearcut, making EU financial institutions work for forests and people’ showed that the top 20 EU-based financial institutions (including banks, institutional investors and alternative investment funds) have provided nearly USD 18 billion of outstanding loans and underwriting services to foreign agriculture companies based in developing countries.

Taking Stock’ reveals the potential negative impact that public financing through Development Finance Institutions are having on forests and peoples.


Most recent publications

BLOG: Anti-money laundering not an easy weapon to use against timber crime

by Mark Gregory

Estimates suggest that between 15% and 30% of the international trade in timber comes from illicit sources. Nobody knows how much criminal money this generates but the figure is certain to run into billions of dollars every year.

Financing land grabs and deforestation: the role of EU banks and investors

Fern's latest research shows that European Union-based banks and investors have played a massive role in financing companies at the heart of concerns about land grabbing and tropical deforestation. We looked in depth at the sources of funding for 23 of the world's biggest agriculture companies, including leading palm oil producers and traders. Click here for the full report.

PDF iconFinancing land grabs final.pdf2.85 MB

BLOG: HSBC – the bank we hate to love

by Mark Gregory

Why HSBC’s decision to keep its headquarters in the UK might be good news for forest campaigners.

Stashing the cash: banks, money laundering and the battle against illegal logging

Illegal logging is believed to account for between 15% and 30% of the international trade in timber, with revenues running into billions of dollars each year. This has prompted the EU, the World Bank and others to call for more effective use of anti-money laundering procedures as a way of tackling the illicit financial flows that support illegal logging. This report looks at whether action on money laundering could be a worthwhile lever to help preserve the world’s forests.

EU Investors, Land Grabs and Deforestation: Case-Studies

European banks and investors are a major source of finance for large-scale destructive agriculture; forestry; and pulp and paper projects. These often lead to forest loss, impoverishment and violations of the rights of local communities. NGOs continue to be inundated with examples of agriculture and forestry deals that kick communities off their land and cause environmental devastation.

Clear Cut: Making EU financial institutions work for people and forests

This report examines the activities of different financial institutions and their involvement in forest-risk agriculture. It investigates specific voluntary policies intended to address environmental, social and governance issues and the problems that arise with such measures (e.g. lack of public oversight and inability to enforce).

PDF iconClear Cut.pdf3.44 MB