Did you know the EU causes 10% of global forest destruction via commodities it imports? The EU is also the second biggest importer of forest-risk products in the world - urgent action is needed! The #Together4Forests campaign petition feeds directly into an EU public consultation on a new law to tackle the EU's forest and ecosystem destruction footprint. By taking part you are making the call for a new law even louder. The European Commission is listening - ACT NOW!
Forests are mysterious and beautiful worlds vital to our well-being. They provide oxygen, food, shelter, life and livelihoods. They shield us from climate change, drought and even pandemics. From the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who live in forests, to people in cities, we all depend on forests to provide us with clean air and water, and resources like wood and medicines.
Forests are home to 80% of the world’s land-based species including birds, insects, amphibians and plant life. From tigers and jaguars to orangutans, rhinos and elephants - some of the world’s most iconic species also rely on forest habitats.
Since 1990, the world has lost 178 million hectares of forest. Annually, we lose an area of forest around the size of Greece. Moreover, recent data from Global Forest Watch shows a nearly 3% increase in the loss of primary forest – forest that has never been logged – in 2019 compared to 2018.
According to the FAO, “deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity.” Most of this forest loss is driven by the expansion of commercial cropland, pastures, and tree plantations.
We are also losing savannahs, grasslands, peatlands and wetlands. Just like forests, these natural habitats are rich in plant, bird, amphibian and animal life. They can also store large amounts of carbon and help us fight climate change. But they too are being destroyed. For example, the Brazilian Cerrado, the most biodiverse savannah in the world, is being destroyed at twice the rate of the Amazon. This has disastrous consequences for biodiversity, climate and our survival. It is vital for an EU law to protect these areas too - a law on forests alone could simply shift the problem of ecosystem destruction in forests to these areas.
Agriculture is the main driver of deforestation, accounting for 80% of deforestation around the world. The EU’s demand for imported agricultural products has been a major contributor to tropical deforestation. In particular through imports of palm oil from South East Asia and soy, sugar and beef from Latin America. Coffee, cacao and rubber imports are also contributors to deforestation. Overall, the EU is responsible for around 10% of the global share of deforestation, and the EU is the world’s second-largest market for these forest-risk commodities after China.
The EU is also home to major financial institutions that invest in the harmful agribusinesses who turn a blind eye to ecosystem destruction. According to Global Witness’ investigations, from 2013-2019, EU-based financial institutions were among the main sources of funds to some of the world’s most harmful agribusinesses, directly or indirectly involved in deforestation in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Papua New Guinea.
We need a law that stops the destruction of nature due to EU consumption of commodities like palm oil, soy, cocoa, beef, coffee and rubber. Such a law should also apply to financial institutions that operate in the EU and that are enabling forest and ecosystem destruction, including human rights violations.
The ecosystems that are affected by destructive agricultural practices to serve the EU market include forests, savannahs, grasslands and wetlands. Around the world, some of the most severely affected areas are the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Atlantic forest in Brazil; the Gran Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay; the rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia and forests in West and Central Africa including Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
A strong law also means that there are no human rights abuses connected to the commodities and financing – for example the eviction of local communities from their land.
Shrinking forests are threatening our health because we are losing a natural barrier to the spread of diseases. Deforestation means wildlife relocates closer to humans, increasing disease transfer risk. Cutting down tropical forests also expands the habitats for mosquitoes which can carry diseases like malaria and dengue. In fact, land-use change, including deforestation and the modification of natural habitats, is held responsible for nearly half of newly emerging zoonoses – diseases that jump from animals to humans.
Around 1.6 billion people globally rely on forest resources for livelihoods and shelter, of those, around 300 million are Indigenous Peoples and local communities. But many people are losing their homes and their lives because of deforestation. These people have the knowledge to manage their forests wisely – they can be guardians of the forest, savannahs and grasslands.
A new EU law is vital to reducing the EU’s nature destruction footprint. But, the EU must also strengthen its cooperation with the countries that produce the goods the EU imports to tackle ecosystem destruction and the related human rights violations. Active engagement with Indigenous Peoples, local communities, governments and businesses to address the underlying challenges will help protect the last remaining pristine areas of nature – and the people that depend on them.
Now is the time to voice support for a strong law: the European Commission is running a public consultation on EU action needed to protect the world’s forests and we have an opportunity to make a difference by taking part.
For the first time ever, the European Commission and EU Member States are open to discuss addressing deforestation through a new binding law. The public consultation opened on 3 September 2020 and will close on 10 December 2020. Its official name is “Deforestation and forest degradation – reducing the impact of products placed on the EU market”. We urge the EU to adopt the law which would enter into force by the end of 2021.
We now have a real chance to stop products that are linked to deforestation, forest degradation and ecosystem conversion or degradation from entering the EU market, as well as stopping the human rights violations linked to it. This way, we’ll protect not only the world's last remaining forests but also savannahs, peatlands and other unique places that are being destroyed for EU consumption. We will show that citizens care about this.
The #Together4Forests petition makes it easy for you to directly contribute to the public consultation. It makes the in-depth European Commission questionnaire look like a simple petition, and it allows participants to send recommended, pre-filled responses to the public consultation - and straight to the Commission.