Life on earth depends on forests. 

Forest destruction also wipes out biodiversity and the homes of countless species, and threatens the livelihoods of those who rely on forests for their survival.

Where does deforestation happen and who is responsible?

Most deforestation this century has occurred – and continues to take place – in tropical countries, although countries such as Russia, Canada, and the United States also had a high level of tree loss from 2021 to 2022, according to Global Forest Watch

80% of tropical deforestation comes from converting forests to agricultural land for commodities such as beef, soy, and palm oil. Other sectors, such as mining, timber, and paper and packaging, are also responsible.

What are the solutions that could end deforestation?

Drivers of deforestation vary depending on the country. Efforts at ending deforestation therefore need to be shaped by local realities. But whatever the local conditions, the same overarching principles apply when trying to combat it:

Central among them is making improvements to the way forests and land are managed and owned. 

Government policies and laws that aim to do this are doomed to fail unless they have the input and the support of a broad range of people: from small-scale farmers to NGOs, from local communities to Indigenous Peoples. Respecting the land tenure rights must be sacrosanct. 

To end deforestation we must also reduce our consumption of the goods whose production causes it. 

This means the agricultural commodities, such as beef, soy and palm oil, responsible for most of the forest destruction on the planet; the wood we burn in the name of green energy; the paper and packaging we increasingly use as a substitute for plastic; and the critical minerals nations around the world are desperate to secure for the energy transition.  

World leaders have promised to end deforestation by 2030. 

As well as ending deforestation, we need to restore degraded forests. This can only be done under the stewardship - or with the support of - the local and Indigenous Peoples’ who live there, and who are the world’s best forest custodians

Restoring forests means restoring the rights of forest dwellers: the people who live in them, who understand them best and who have a personal stake in defending and nurturing them.

Meanwhile in Europe, most of the old-growth forests have long been destroyed, three-quarters of forests are clearcut and the majority are defined as being in a bad state.

As a result forward-thinking foresters are turning away from the clear-cutting and intensive forestry methods that have prevailed for decades. 

Instead, they are adopting close-to-nature and more sustainable practices, and highlighting the social, economic and environmental benefits such practices can reap. 

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