EU Deforestation Policy

The scale of deforestation and forest degradation, in particular tropical and rain-forests, has drawn considerable attention and legitimate concerns regarding the future of the planet. The drivers of deforestation and forest degradation include illegal logging and mining, urban sprawl, land speculation, agricultural expansion, inadequate land and forest management rules, wildfires and natural diseases. Tropical oils, such as palm, but also soybeans and their derived products, have come under the spotlight of deforestation allegations.

The fight against climate change intensified over the last years. In 2014, world leaders from numerous governments, big companies and civil society endorsed a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strove to end it by 2030 under the New York Declaration on Forests. The signature of the Paris Agreement on climate is raising hopes that signatories will deliver specific actions to protect forests, reduce emissions, but also preserve biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

In 2011, the European Commission (EC) launched a study to assess the impact of EU consumption on forest loss at a global scale based on figures covering the period 1990 and 2008. The study was released in 2013 and quantified the impact of overall EU consumption on global deforestation. It also provided an overall screening of relevant policy areas where options for action could be pursued to turn EU consumption more sustainable and address embodied deforestation in products imported into the EU. The release of the study gave rise to stakeholder discussions, but only in 2015 did the new Commission resume work on this item.