Deforestation and forest degradation cause irreversible biodiversity loss, diminish the prospect of reducing greenhouse emissions quickly enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, and threaten the rights and livelihoods of communities living in and around forests. Land-use choices that fail to recognise forest values thus pose huge risks to business and society.
Companies should commit to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from their supply chains, and back this with clear operating procedures, third party verification and transparent reporting on progress. The recent groundswell of deforestation-free commitments is a welcome step but those pledges need to be implemented, with open and transparent reporting on progress. There is also much debate and ambiguity over what should qualify as deforestation-free and how it should be verified.
Likewise, investors can recognize deforestation as a risk and apply safeguards to ensure they are not funding activities that destroy or degrade forests. Consumers can look to eco-labels, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for assurance that the wood, palm oil or other ingredients in a product were sourced consistently with care for environmental and social standards.