The Global Canopy's 'Forest 500' assesses the 350 most influential companies in forest-risk commodity supply chains and the 150 financial institutions that support them. Nearly half of the 500 assessed companies have made commitments to eliminate deforestation by 2020, but none of the companies and financial institutions assessed in 2018 are on track to meet their target in time.
Palm oil producers and environmental activists alike have expressed dismay at a move by European officials to phase out palm-oil based biofuel by 2030. Officials in Indonesia and Malaysia - who together produce 85% of palm oil globally - say the move is discriminatory and have vowed a vigorous response, including lobbying EU member states, bringing the matter before the World Trade Organisation, and imposing retaliatory measures on EU goods.
Environmental activists, on the other hand, say the policy does not go far enough leaving loopholes allowing palm oil to be treated as a renewable fuel, allowing continued expansion of palm plantations into peat forests. They also criticize the policy’s failure to label soybean oil as high risk, with growing evidence that soy cultivation may have greater deforestation risks than palm oil.
The Norwegian parliament voted to make Norway the world's first country to ban its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020. A 2017 report by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) showed palm oil-based biofuels have a more detrimental effect on climate change than using fossil fuels. The resolution calls on the government "to formulate a comprehensive proposal for policies and taxes in the biofuels policy in order to exclude biofuels with high deforestation risk."
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’.
Set against panoramic views of the WWT London Wetlands Centre, we gathered together 11 speakers covering 5 sessions, and invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers to attend. Altogether, we had a packed room with over 60 people in attendance and speakers from a variety of companies.
The speakers covered various topics including; the economics behind recent pulp price rises; the various pressures on mill groups around the world; deforestation hotpots and NGO efforts to keep corporate commitments on track. We also dedicated a session to the issue of plastic where we had the lead Plastics Campaign manager from Friends of the Earth examining the different recyclable alternatives available and how these options could be implemented into the book making industry. In addition to that, with pressure to tackle human rights abuses in all supply chains from the Modern Slavery statements, we ran a session on human rights and heard some hard-hitting examples of corporate engagement to correct previous abuses with the help of the Forest Peoples Programme.
The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
The World Economic Forum recently published research suggesting consumers in a few key emerging market producer countries (Indonesia and Brazil) and importing countries (China and India) together account for 40% of global consumption of the four commodities most associated with tropical deforestation—soy, beef, palm, and wood products. The authors project that by 2025 demand for these commodities within these four countries could increase by 43%, resulting in forest areas equivalent to the size of Nigeria being cut down every. Increasing demand for meat and calorie-rich foods, regulatory changes, and shifts in constraints for domestic production will all be key factors in fueling demand in these emerging market economies.
Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’. There are 60 people from invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers in attendance. 11 speakers from a variety of companies talked about topics on pulp price rising, mill pressures, deforestation hotpots, plastic issues and modern slavery etc. The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
FSC has sent a "come clean" ultimatum to APP and its billionaire Indonesian owners, the Widjaja family, following evidence it continues to cut down tropical forests and operate through corporate proxies. A letter was sent to the pulp and paper giant on Monday which sets out the demands FSC expect APP to meet if they want to be readmitted to the council. The ultimatum comes after Greenpeace ended a five year truce with the company earlier this month following an investigation that revealed the company had been destroying tropical forests the entire time the two parties were cooperating on conservation. FSC have demanded APP respond to their letter by Monday, stating publicly their high level commitment to the council’s standards and proposing remedies to Greenpeace’s evidence of deforestation. By June 11th the company will also have to fully disclose their corporate structure and any other violations of the standards.
A report by WRI shows ongoing deforestation in an oil palm concession in Papua, Indonesia, operated by a subsidiary of South Korea’s POSCO Daewoo. The company has responded by saying its operations in Papua are legal and fully permitted.
Concerns over deforestation by POSCO Daewoo have prompted other companies to say they will not allow its palm oil into their supply chains. These include big-name brands such as Clorox, Colgate Palmolive, IKEA, L’Oreal, Mars and Unilever. POSCO Daewoo has issued a temporary moratorium on land clearing in its Papua concession and hired a consultant to advise it on how to proceed with its operations there.
Study shows that 92.2 percent of tree cover loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 48.2 percent in the Republic of Congo (ROC) is linked to small-scale shifting cultivation. Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) and World Resources Institute’s Congo team mapped the rural complex of DRC and ROC, with forest fragmentation to differentiate between the rural complex, fragmented forest and undisturbed forest. The DRC and ROC rural complex maps together enable better understanding which loss is caused by shifting cultivation cycling back to previously farmed areas, and which shows new deforestation, degradation or fragmentation.
Motion 7 passed at the FSC General Assembly meeting in Vancouver on 13 October, indicating that the organization will pursue a change to its rules allowing companies that have converted forests to plantations since 1994 to go for certification, which is not allowed under current rule. Proponents of a rule change say it would allow more companies to be held to FSC standards and could result in the restoration or conservation of ‘millions of hectares’ in compensation for recent deforestation. Opponents argue that FSC is bending to industry demands and that a rule change will increase the pressure for land conversion on communities and biodiversity.
British fast food restaurants and grocery chains, including Tesco, Morrisons and McDonald’s, buy their chicken from Cargill, which feeds its poultry with imported soy, much of it apparently coming from the Bolivian Amazon and Brazilian Cerrado — areas rapidly being deforested for new soy plantations. Retailers have so far not used their leverage over Cargill to compel it to support a soy moratorium expansion.
Global Forest Watch, in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute and Vizzuality, launched Forest Watcher in September. This is a mobile app that allows users to monitor and report on forest change with real-time forest change data of GFW straight from a mobile device. It directs users to the latest deforestation and fire alerts in their area, and provides the ability to prioritize and collect evidence about what they discover. The app is open source and free to download and use.
Canada harvests an astonishing 1.8 million acres of forested lands per year—an area half the size of Connecticut—and almost all of it is clearcut. But as long as there’s a plan on paper to regenerate that forest, many seem to assume that it is happening, despite limited study of what is actually growing back and how well that regrowth meets the ecological values that were lost following harvest, especially its vast boreal forest. The Government of Canada’s annual "State of Canada’s Forests” report focuses on Canada’s low deforestation rate but didn’t mention at all about “forest degradation”.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report. The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic metres (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia. Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in payments from Vietnamese timber traders. Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 had very little effect.
Many tropical forests around the world have been severely fragmented as human disturbance split once-contiguous forests into pieces. Previous research indicates trees on the edges of these fragments have higher mortality rates than trees growing in the interiors of forests. Researchers used satellite data and analysis software they developed to figure out how many forest fragments there are, and the extent of their edges. They discovered that there are around 50 million tropical forest fragments in the world today. When they calculated how much carbon is being released from tree death at these edges, they found a 31% increase from current tropical deforestation estimates.
China has completely banned the felling of natural forests for commercial purposes, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). China had previously made a three-step plan to phase out deforestation, starting with the worst deforested areas and setting the end of 2017 as the deadline for a complete national halt on deforestation. China will step up efforts to plan and establish 20 national forest reserves in seven key areas, in hopes of reducing the country's dependence on timber imports to less than 30 percent by 2030.
Hivos and Greenpeace Netherlands, together with indigenous groups from the Amazon rainforest, are launching a new campaign against deforestation called ‘All eyes on the Amazon’. Studies show that indigenous communities living in rainforests are crucial to the sustainable protection of these areas. This programme will aim to give indigenous communities the tools, knowledge and contacts to combat deforestation. It will also use satellite technology and drone photography to give indigenous groups evidence of the deforestation that is occurring.
A report by World Economic Forum and Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 states that the transfer to deforestation-free supply chains could represent an investment opportunity of approximately US$ 200 billion annually. However, although companies are making commitments to deforestation-free pulp and paper in their supply chain, due to the underestimation of the risk, they may have issues meeting their time bound commitments.
Norway has donated $100 million to start a fund to halt deforestation, with Unilever being the first corporate investor to the fund pledging $25 million over five years. This was announced at the World Economic Forum and the fund’s aim is to ‘safeguard more than 5 million hectares of peatlands and forests’. This fund was created under the ‘Tropical Forest Alliance 2020’ umbrella which brings together leaders of public institutions and private companies to eliminate deforestation from supply chains.
A new CDP study released that a substantive portion, 24% on average, of the revenue of 187 international companies depend upon commodities linked with deforestation, which are cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. Moreover, only about 40% of the studied companies have evaluated how the availability or quality of these commodities can impact their business growth strategy over the next five or more years. However, on the positive side, more and more companies become to recognize the benefits in scaling up their forest-protection efforts.