Land area the size of Europe deforested in 10 years
Nearly one-third of the world’s deforested land is a consequence of international trade, underscoring the importance of addressing imported deforestation in the context of global political and economic concerns.
The International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) is a distinguished organization with a rich history in biodiversity conservation.
Its primary mission is to combat deforestation by advocating for the protection and restoration of tropical forests, which are crucial for mitigating CO2 emissions.
Since December 6, 2022, the European Union has implemented the European Union Deforestation Regulation, a measure designed to ban the import of products linked to deforestation.
As a key contributor to the development of this regulation, ATIBT celebrates Earth Day – April 22 – by emphasizing the strides made in curtailing deforestation. This progress allows consumers to make purchases without negatively impacting tropical forests around the world.
Promoting sustainable forest management
Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change by absorbing and storing vast quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. They also serve as a habitat for remarkable biodiversity, housing 75 percent of all living species and fostering a variety of diverse indigenous communities.
Additionally, forests provide income for over 1.6 billion people globally. However, deforestation remains a pressing issue, accounting for 11 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (according to Our World in Data), with 29 percent of these emissions linked to the production of goods for international trade and the remainder stemming from domestic demand.
To address this, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) is collaborating with its partners to promote “Zero Deforestation” consumption, striking a balance between environmental preservation and economic growth.
The association aims to introduce “positive impact certificates” that support sustainable, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious forest management, contributing to biodiversity conservation.
These certificates will complement existing certification systems like the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC, or PAFC in the Congo Basin) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
ATIBT’s involvement also aligns with the One Forest Summit and initiatives announced in March 2023, such as the “10by30” strategy, which aims to create 10 million jobs by 2030 in sustainable tropical forest exploitation-related activities.
Another initiative is the development of a mechanism to reward exemplary countries with “biodiversity certificates”.
France, a leading country in combating deforestation, acknowledges the FSC and PEFC-PAFC certification systems as essential tools in this fight.
ATIBT’s backing of certification and sustainable forest management is fully consistent with the European strategy, as these certifications are recognized by the European Union as valuable tools for risk analysis and reduction.
Fighting against imported deforestation
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that between 1990 and 2020, a staggering 420 million hectares of forests, equivalent to 10 percent of the world’s total forest area, vanished – an area larger than the European Union (EU).
In response to this crisis, France became the pioneer in implementing a national strategy against imported deforestation (SNDI).
Inspired by this effort, the European Commission introduced its “zero deforestation” regulatory initiative in 2021, aiming to halt global deforestation attributable to the EU.
The initiative, known as EUDR (EU Regulation on deforestation-free products), offers stakeholders in the sector a chance to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable forest management certification.
This groundbreaking step led to the landmark agreement at the end of 2022 on the regulation against imported deforestation, which aligns with advancements in climate, environmental protection, and biodiversity regulations.
Setting a global precedent, companies looking to market their products within the European Union must now provide evidence that their products have not contributed to deforestation.
In concrete terms, this new regulation requires EU companies to:
- Minimize the risk that products from supply chains associated with deforestation or forest degradation are placed on or exported from the EU market
- Increase demand and trade in the EU for legal and ‘deforestation-free’ commodities and products
Benoît Jobbé-Duval, ATIBT’s managing director, says: “In light of the current situation, this regulation represents a significant advancement.
“It mandates companies to implement a Due Diligence system, ensuring that products sold within the EU are not sourced from deforested or degraded forests.
“The ATIBT, operating within the Congo Basin’s tropical forest – recognized as the planet’s second green lung – asserts that sustainable forest management is a vital strategy for combating deforestation.
“As overseers of the certified tropical forestry sector, we have established the Fair&Precious program to enhance awareness and promote the visibility of ‘sustainable management’ certifications for tropical forests.
“Launched five years ago, this program outlines ten sustainability objectives for forest managers, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (including biodiversity preservation, erosion control, anti-poaching efforts, and educating wood industry stakeholders).”
Although the regulation is set to take effect in 2023, there may be further technical adjustments to the text.