Did you know that EU consumption is responsible for 10% of global forest destruction? The EU is also the second biggest importer of products and commodities that are fueling nature destruction around the world - the EU cannot ignore its responsibility!
Through the #Together4Forests campaign, 1.2 million people and 160 NGOs demanded a strong, new EU law to protect the world’s forests and other ecosystems, and fed straight into the European Commission’s public consultation on deforestation in December 2020.
On 17 November 2021, the European Commission presented a proposal for an EU deforestation law. The proposal is not perfect, it has some flaws that need to be ironed out, but it is a good start. Now the ball is in the court of the EU’s national governments.
As they gear up to discuss this law, the #Together4Forests campaign is launching a big email action asking citizens to write to their ministers urging them to increase the level of ambition and not to water down this law!
By joining this campaign, you are making the call for a strong law even louder. EU governments must listen - TAKE ACTION 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.
We must voice our support for a strong law once again! In the coming weeks, national ministers will meet to discuss the European Commission’s proposal for a EU deforestation law. With this email action, we have the opportunity to send them a strong message - and encourage them to strike a decisive blow against nature destruction.
This email action will kick off on 2 February 2022 and will close on 15 March 2022. Your email will be delivered to your national minister(s) a few days before they meet their European peers to discuss the law.
We now have a real chance to stop products that are linked to deforestation, forest degradation,ecosystem conversion and human rights violations from entering the EU market. This way, we’ll protect not only the world's last remaining forests and the people who inhabit them, but also savannahs, peatlands and other unique places that are being destroyed for EU consumption and by the financing of destructive activities. We will show that we - consumers, voters, citizens - care.
The new #Together4Forests email tool makes it easy for you to send a letter to your minister(s), including some key elements for this law to be really effective. We have prepared a form for you to fill in in just 30 seconds to send this letter,and you can even add your own message and adapt the text as you see fit.
We will make sure your email is delivered to your minister(s) ahead of the crucial talks - your voice will be heard!