EU action is needed to safeguard the world’s forests

Photo: Dag Hallén, Värmskog / Björn Leijon

Products bought and consumed in the EU should not contribute to deforestation. On 17 November the European Commission has proposed legislation that aims to ensure only deforestation-free products will be allowed on the EU market.

"It is a needed and timely step, which follows a recent COP26 pledge by more than 100 countries to halt global deforestation," says Emma Berglund, Forest Director at the Swedish Forest Industries.   

Halting global deforestation is positive in many aspects, not least for the climate and for preserving biodiversity. To make a real difference, the new legislation needs to be impactful and targeted.

Drivers of deforestation

Around 90 percent of all EU driven deforestation is caused by agriculture. The main driver of deforestation is the demand for agricultural commodities such as soya and palm oil, meaning that the forest is converted to agricultural land. Deforestation is mainly a problem in countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. In the EU, the area of forest increased by almost 10 percent in the past three decades. 

"In Sweden the volume of forest has doubled in the last one hundred years. For the Swedish forest industry, ensuring biodiverse, healthy and resilient forests is a central goal and strategic interest," says Emma Berglund.

What is the impact on the European forest-based industry?

Swedish Forest Industries (SFIF) supports regulation that ensures that EU consumption does not cause deforestation. However, SFIF raises concern over the extra burden put on wood products and calls for a careful assessment of the impact on the EU forest-based industry. Emma Berglund explains:

"It is important to focus on the main drivers of deforestation. In its current form, the proposal puts an unproportionate burden on European actors that are not a part of the problem. There needs to be more discussion about the extra burden put on wood products."