Soil Association welcomes EU game-changer
The European Parliament have adopted a ground-breaking new law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation.
Under the new laws, EU companies will be required to ensure that the wood, palm oil, soy, rubber, coffee, cocoa and cattle they import are not only legal – including compliance with human rights legislation and the rights of indigenous peoples – but also have not been produced on land that was deforested after December 31, 2020.
At the Soil Association we applaud the European Parliament on this landmark vote. Our vision is regeneration: a world with good health, in balance with nature and a safe climate. Our planet is in crisis; but together with nature we have the answers. We can restore our Earth – from the ground up. The way we work the land, and ultimately the food we all eat, has a huge impact on our health, our climate, and our wildlife.
Tackling deforestation and forest degradation
Deforestation is a main driver of climate change and biodiversity loss; with the production of agricultural commodities the main driver of deforestation. Agricultural expansion drives nearly 90 percent of deforestation.
It is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest — an area larger than the EU — were converted from forests to agricultural use between 1990 and 2020, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). EU consumption represents around 10% of this global deforestation. Palm oil and soya account for more than two-thirds of this.
About the new EU law
The new EU law obliges companies to ensure products sold in the EU have not led to deforestation and forest degradation.
While no country or commodity will be banned, companies will only be allowed to sell products in the EU if the supplier of the product has issued a so-called ‘due diligence’ statement confirming that the product does not come from deforested land or has led to forest degradation, including of irreplaceable primary forests, after 31 December 2020.
As requested by Parliament, companies will also have to verify that these products comply with relevant legislation of the country of production, including on human rights, and that the rights of affected indigenous people have been respected.
Parliament also secured a wider definition of forest degradation that includes the conversion of primary forests or naturally regenerating forests into plantation forests or into other wooded land.
Possibly one of the most challenging aspects for businesses will be the demand to demonstrate traceability to source of origin.
The text now has to be formally endorsed by Council. It will then be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.
Can Government legislation end deforestation? Read the blog post by Soil Association policy advisor Cathy Cliff
Soil Association Certification recently worked with environmental NGOs, WWF, Fairtrade Foundation and The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) to explore sustainable solutions to fixing our broken food system. Find out more in the Sustainability Report.