Deforestation is the permanent conversion of forest land into other uses. The main drivers of worldwide deforestation are agricultural expansion, logging, expansion of urban areas, and natural or human-induced disasters (e.g. wildfire).
As part of its strategy to address climate change and global biodiversity loss, also responding to the request of the European Parliament, the European Commission (EC) launched a comprehensive study in 2011 to assess the impact of EU consumption on forest loss at a global scale. The study provides an in-depth assessment of the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and also provides general indications and options for possible policy responses.
The study has been carried out over a two year period by a consortium of institutes led by Vito, and including IIASA, Cicero, K.U. Leuven and IUCN-Netherlands. The findings are the outcome of the work of the consortium and they do not represent the position of the EC
Main results from the study
The study provides a quantification of the impact of overall EU consumption on global deforestation. It also provides a general screening of relevant policy areas where options for action could be pursued to address this impact and advance work towards EU sustainable consumption.
The study has developed a concept - ‘embodied deforestation’ - which refers to the deforestation associated with the production of a good or commodity. This good or commodity may be consumed in the country of origin or traded elsewhere. It allows to link deforestation in producer countries/regions with the associated consumption of goods in consumer countries/regions.
The key results, covering the period 1990-2008, show that:
The targeted actions of the European Commission's "Roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe" as part of the Europe 2020 strategy, already address some of the issues highlighted in the study, such as the impact of the food sector – and particularly of some commodities such as soy, meat and oil palm, on global deforestation.
Other areas where further analysis and work is on going or needed are: the energy sector - with the impact of biofuels production and EU imports – consumption habits, behavioural changes; improved information and awareness raising at consumers and industrial level.
Publication of study outputs
Three reports are available:
Contacts and/or questions have to be addressed to the functional mailbox ENV DEFORESTATION