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Stepping up EU action against deforestation

The scale of deforestation and forest degradation, in particular tropical and rain-forests, has drawn considerable attention and legitimate concerns regarding the future of the planet. The drivers of deforestation and forest degradation include illegal logging and mining, urban sprawl, land speculation, agricultural expansion, inadequate land and forest management rules, wildfires and natural diseases. Tropical oils, such as palm, but also soybeans and their derived products, have come under the spotlight of deforestation allegations.

The fight against climate change has intensified over the last years. In 2014, world leaders from numerous governments, big companies and civil society endorsed a global timeline to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strove to end it by 2030 under the New York Declaration on Forests. The signature of the Paris Agreement on climate has raised hopes that signatories will deliver specific actions to protect forests, reduce emissions and preserve biodiversity and wildlife habitats.

In 2011, the European Commission (EC) launched a study to assess the impact of EU consumption on forest loss at a global scale based on figures covering the period 1990 to 2008. The study was finalised and released in 2013 and quantified the impact of overall EU consumption on global deforestation. The Commission resumed work on this in 2017 by commissioning a "Feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation" which was finally resleased in March 2018 assessed a number of identified interventions against a set of criteria: feasibility, effectiveness, political acceptability, technical complexity, and administrative costs ahead of a potential decision by the Commission to consider a set of interventions in the form of an action plan.

FEDIOL welcomed the publication of the "Study on the feasibility of options to step up EU action to combat deforestation and forest degradation", as it acknowledged the complexity of the problem of global deforestation, its multiple underlying causes and drivers and recognised the need for an overarching approach to the issue. Should the EU decide to push for a set of actions, FEDIOL believes it should build on and reinforce existing initiatives as well as governments' and private sector's actions at origin.