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Deforestation & forest degradation
Deforestation, forest degradation and the conversion of ecosystems, such as savannahs, are key drivers of habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and the climate emergency.
This destruction is a lot closer to home than we think. It’s in our homes. 

Forest land is frequently cleared or degraded to make way for crops like palm oil and soy, which are exported to the EU and found in many products on our supermarket shelves: beef, palm oil, wood products, rubber, maize, cocoa and coffee. The most recent data indicates that the EU is responsible for at least 10% of forest destruction worldwide.

Without strict rules to make sure such products are sustainable, the EU is contributing to the loss of the world’s rainforests, savannahs and wetlands. 

What is WWF doing?


In order to put a stop to this destruction, two years ago we launched the #Together4Forests campaign. After 1.2 million citizens asked for a law that would keep deforestation off EU tables, the European Commission proposed a new EU deforestation law which would require all products placed on the EU market to be genuinely sustainable (i.e. free from deforestation and forest degradation) in addition to being legal by the producing country’s standards. These should also be traceable to their place of origin, and when it comes to enforcing the law across the EU, fines must be proportional to the environmental damage caused and its value. However, the proposed law contains loopholes which lower the EU’s big chance to keep nature destruction off the market. 

 

To further support citizens' demands, in March 2022 we launched a new research which shows that the average European consumes 60.6 kg of soy per year, contributing unknowingly to the destruction of precious natural ecosystems in South America. Because soy is the main animal feed used to produce our food: in the case of chicken and salmon, the amount of soy animal feed used is almost equal to that of the food produced. These examples and more are showcased in WWF’s virtual ‘hidden soy’ fridge.

Later on, as environment ministers prepared to discuss their position on the new  EU deforestation law on 17 March, 53,000+ people across Europe sent them letters and, to amplify their voices,  we unveiled the “Together for Forests” mural. The 24 meter tall piece of street art brings iconic wildlife closer to the European quarter in Brussels, while EU Member States and the European Parliament now decide how ambitious the law will be when it is adopted. Meanwhile, we also asked scientists and experts from across the EU to answer the Internet’s most searched questions on deforestation, in a series of short videos.  

As you are reading this, people across Europe are asking MEPs to support a strong EU Deforestation law in upcoming discussions in the Council and European Parliament. Join them so that only nature destruction-free products enter the EU market!
Latest report

© WWF

An area the size of Morocco lost to deforestation in a decade


The Deforestation fronts: Drivers and responses in a changing world report, published in January 2021, analysed 24 “deforestation fronts”, or hotspots, across 29 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa and found that more than 43 million hectares of forest were lost in these areas over a 13-year period. 

Rampant deforestation in the tropics and subtropics may seem a world away, but Europe’s rising demand for products like beef, soy, cocoa and palm oil is adding fuel to the fire. The EU's new deforestation law must be strong, ambitious, and ensure the EU plays its part in protecting the world’s forests and other natural habitats, such as grasslands and wetlands.