Forests are rapidly disappearing around the world. Deforestation and forest degradation are the biggest threats to forests.
Around 10% of the world’s forests, an area larger than the European Union, have been lost worldwide through deforestation over the past 30 years, and about 10% of forests globally are severely fragmented with little or no connectivity. While this is not a new phenomenon, the current scale and pace of destruction is alarming. This magnitude of destruction has significant social, economic and environmental impacts, locally and globally.
Deforestation is a main driver of climate change and biodiversity loss, and the EU contributes to it by consuming a significant share of products associated with deforestation. The EU, therefore, has the responsibility to contribute to ending it.
In line with the 2019 Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, the EU aims to improve the health of existing forests, and significantly increase sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide. The EU has five main priorities
- reduce the footprint of EU consumption on land and encourage EU consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains
- work in partnership with producer countries to reduce pressures on forests
- strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation and encourage forest restoration
- redirect finance to support more sustainable land-use practices
- support the availability and quality of information on forests and commodity supply chains, the access to that information, and support research and innovation
Cooperation with partners
- December 2022European Union agrees Regulation on deforestation-free products
This Regulation aims to guarantee that the products EU citizens consume do not contribute to deforestation or forest degradation worldwide. It will repeal the EU Timber Regulation. Once the Regulation is in force, operators and traders as well as competent authorities will have a deadline to prepare for the new rules.
- November 2021European Commission adopts proposal for a Regulation on deforestation-free products
Alongside the proposal, the Commission published an evaluation of the existing EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation.
- May 2003European Union adopted Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan
The Action Plan tackles illegal logging and associated trade but it does not address deforestation as such. The two main components of the FLEGT Action Plan are the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) between the EU and timber producing countries.