The rate of forest disappearance around the world is alarming. 420 million hectares of forest were lost to deforestation between 1990 and 2020 According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, an area the size of the European Union.
Deforestation means cutting down forests so that the land can be used for other purposes, while forest degradation is a gradual process in which the ability of forests to produce benefits in the form of timber and biodiversity is lost.
These processes take place mainly in one of the three large forest plateaus of the Amazon in South America, and in the Congo in Central Africa and Southeast Asia. The opposite evolution is happening in the European Union where forests by 10% between 1990 and 2020.
But deforestation is a global problem that the EU wants to tackle in order to combat environmental damage and climate change.
What are the main causes of deforestation and forest degradation?
Deforestation and forest degradation can be linked primarily to human activity.
Agriculture is the main driver of deforestation in all regions except Europe. Converting forests to agricultural land is the main reason for clearing. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, it causes at least 50 percent of the world’s deforestationmainly for the production of palm oil and soybeans.
Pastures for livestock account for nearly 40 percent of the world’s deforestation.
In Europe, switching to agricultural land accounts for about 15 percent of deforestation and 20 percent due to pastures.
Urban and infrastructure development, including the construction and expansion of road networks, is the third largest cause of deforestation in the world, accounting for just over 6 percent of the total. But it is the main cause of deforestation in Europe.
Overexploitation of timber resources
Other harmful activities associated with human activities include the excessive exploitation of wood for fuel, for example, or illegal or unsustainable forest industries.
Climate change is both a cause and a consequence of deforestation and forest degradation. The extreme events they cause, such as wildfires, droughts, and floods, affect forests. In addition, deforestation is detrimental to the climate, as forests play an important role in clean air, regulating water cycles, sequestering carbon dioxide, and preventing biodiversity loss and soil erosion.
EU consumption of goods produced on deforested lands
Much of the tropical forest that is being converted into farmland goes to produce globally traded goods. EU consumption accounts for nearly 10 percent of the world’s deforestationespecially palm and soybean oil, which account for nearly two-thirds.
according to EU Commission Impact Assessment These are the main products the EU imports from deforested lands:
- palm oil 34%
- Soybean 32.8%
- Work 8.6 percent
- Cocoa 7.5 percent
- 7 percent coffee
- Rubber 3.4%
- corn 1.6%
Towards the EU Regulation for Deforestation Free Products
Deforestation and forest degradation affect EU environmental targets such as combating climate change And the The lost biodiversity, but also human rights, peace and security. That’s why the European Union wants to fight forest loss.
In September 2022, Parliament approved its position on FANR regulation on deforestation-free productsThis will force companies to verify that products sold within the European Union have not been produced on deforested land. Parliament wants to include more products on the list and ensure respect for human rights and protection of indigenous peoples.
In July 2021, the European Commission presented its new Forest Strategy for the EU to 2030, the aim of which is to increase the quantity and quality of EU forests and to enhance their role as carbon dioxide sinks.
Read more about what MEPs are doing to combat deforestation
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