Causes of deforestation

Tackling causes of deforestation

Deforestation and forest degradation is largely driven by global demand for commodities including timber, soya, palm oil, and beef.  ClientEarth is working to help governments reduce and regulate demand for these commodities in consuming countries.

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Unsustainable timber

Many European countries have adopted procurement policies to ensure that the timber they purchase are sourced from sustainably-managed forests using an agreed set of sustainability criteria. These sustainability criteria should relate to social as well as economic and environmental aspects of sustainable forest management.  Social criteria address issues including the right to land, user rights, labour rights and human rights.
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Biomass, which can include timber, wood chip, and plant material, has always been an important energy source and is expected to play an increasing role in Europe under the premise that it is renewable energy. But burning biomass for energy is hardly carbon-neutral, due to its significant impacts on forests. It can lead to deforestation, land conversion, and ecosystems destruction and also produces black carbon, which further compounds its global warming effects.

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Illegal timber

It has been estimated that over 15 per cent of
timber that enters the EU comes from illegal or
suspicious sources. This illegal trade
contributes to deforestation and environmental
degradation, promotes corruption and
increases the poverty of people who depend on


Unsustainable biofuels
Biofuels were once hailed the green alternative to fossil fuels. However evidence reveals the negative impacts biofuels can have on the environment: displacing crop-lands, driving deforestation and, in many instances, actually increasing green house gas emissions.  Unless current policies increasing biofuel production are changed to include meaningful sustainability standards, biofuels will cause more harm than good.

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