How you can help to protect forests
Our forests are incredible, but now, more than ever, they need our help.
From the wood products we buy, to the farmers we choose to support, our positive actions can all add up to make a real difference for forests around the world, helping to ensure that forests are managed in sustainable ways and that more of the right trees are being planted in the right places.
Read on to learn how you can support our work protecting forests, and those around the world who are doing the same.
1. Show support for organic:
Moving away from intensively reared pork, poultry and beef and switching to organic is a great way to reduce the impact of your diet on our forests.
Non-organic animals are often fed on imported non-organic soy - one of the primary drivers of deforestation abroad. Organic livestock feed varies from animal to animal, however British organic cows and sheep are almost entirely pasture-fed (fed on grass from the farm where they are raised).
The diets of organic pigs and poultry must contain roughage, fresh or dried fodder, or silage as part of their daily ration, and at least 20% of their diet must be sourced from the farm itself. Because of this, organic breeds tend to be those which thrive on grass-based diets, lowering demand for imported feed (and its associated environmental risks) in the organic sector.
What about soy that I want to eat or drink myself?
The soy production in Latin America which has been linked to deforestation largely ends up in non-organic animal feed, and is typically genetically modified (GM). GM soy is prohibited under organic standards. The majority of organic soy is produced in China, India and the USA - areas where soy production has not been linked to deforestation on the scale that is occurring in Latin America. At the Soil Association we continue to monitor this.
2. Choose less ultra-processed foods:
Half of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture; and around half of this illegal destruction is for commodities like palm oil, beef, soy, and wood, which are exported to places like the UK. A lot of the food produced from these commodities is fuelling the high consumption of ultra-processed foods, in turn increasing the rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity.
The loss of natural forests globally for food production is an irreversible disaster for our climate, biodiversity and forest communities; and that the products grown following forest clearance are contributing to ill health - a transition away from ultra-processed foods is one of the most important changes we can make to address these issues.
What about organic, or sustainable palm oil?
Palm oil is a highly productive and versatile ingredient which can be produced sustainably whilst supporting smallholder livelihoods in tropical countries. There are many examples of pioneering organic companies who are showcasing best practice in sustainable palm oil production and working to change the wider industry. The problem is not with the ‘oil palm’ trees themselves, but with our over-reliance on cheap vegetable oils.
The Soil Association we support a ‘less and better’ approach to palm oil. We know it is being over-used in unnecessary and sometimes harmful ways (e.g. in ultra-processed foods), so we need to improve its sustainability whilst also reducing our dependency on it. Through our Deforestation and Palm Oil Task and Finish Group we are working with independent experts to advise our approach to palm oil in Soil Association standards.
3. Visit one of our certified woodlands:
There’s forests all over Great Britain that are certified by Soil Association’s Forestry team. Enjoying and supporting one of these forests means casting a vote for sustainable forests in your local area!
4. Look out for local opportunities to get involved with tree planting:
Ask your local authority if they have any current projects. Organisations like the Woodland Trust often offer the chance to help planting trees and give advice on how to plant your own too.
5. Look for the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification):
From garden furniture to greeting cards and even toilet paper, looking for the FSC and PEFC logos offers assurance that these items have been made with resources harvested from sustainably managed forests.
6. Learn more about agroforestry:
There's so many more places for trees than just forests - read about our work planting trees on farms, or watch our Agroforestry film below to learn more about the amazing benefits tof agroforestry.
7. Become a Soil Association member:
We’re big advocates of trees, both on farms and in forests, but we can’t raise awareness about our these amazing organisms and how to protect them without your help.
By joining as a member of the Soil Association, you’ll be helping to achieve our goal of over half of UK farms having agroforestry systems in place by 2030. We are also working hard to research alternative protein sources for livestock in Europe; we contributed to the recently published EU Protein Plan, and have been overseeing farmer-led research exploring the viability of beans, peas and lupins for livestock through our Innovative Farmers ‘field labs’ programme.
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