The global trend of deforestation is slowing downBY PIETRO PAGANINI

Thursday, March 21st marked the International Day of Forests! On this occasion, Pietro Paganini wrote an article on the global trend of deforestation, published in HuffPost Italia. Read the full article on their website or the English translation below. 

On the occasion of the International Day of Forests, as designated by the United Nations and celebrated today for the twelfth consecutive year, there emerges encouraging news. Contrary to the often-repeated narrative in the media, the global trend of deforestation is showing signs of deceleration. The latest UN “Forest Resources Assessment” reveals a reduction in the net loss of forests, dropping from 51 million hectares in the previous decade to 47 million in the last decade. While these figures remain significant, they prompt critical reflection on forest management policies, which are essential for the health of our planet.

Progress in combating deforestation, though slower than hoped by many, is supported by two key elements: the adoption of effective policies by governments of producing countries and the implementation of sustainable practices by companies. Both demonstrate an increasing sensitivity to forest protection and biodiversity conservation, significantly contributing to the improvement of the situation.

The World Resources Institute’s Outlook 2022 highlights how Indonesia, Malaysia, Colombia, and Guatemala have initiated positive changes. This outcome is mainly due to stringent anti-deforestation policies and the adoption of sustainable practices, especially among palm oil producers. Companies involved in palm oil processing and transformation have promoted the adoption of standards for sustainability, forest and biodiversity protection, and respect for workers’ rights along the entire production chain, emphasizing the importance of these practices in producing countries.

The adoption of sustainable practices has been significantly incentivized by the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), aimed at blocking the importation of agricultural raw materials linked to deforestation into the European Union. As of January 2025, seven categories of products, including livestock, cocoa, coffee, rubber, timber, palm oil, and soy, will only be able to be marketed in the European market if they meet strict European criteria. The EUDR requires producers to certify through detailed due diligence the non-deforested origin of imported or exported goods and the absence of contribution to forest degradation after December 31, 2020. This entails a commitment from European processing companies to monitor the entire supply chain to ensure that no phase of the production process has contributed to deforestation. Companies are also required to verify that products comply with local laws regarding human rights and respect the rights of indigenous populations.

In the context of palm oil, action preceded the theory that inspired the EUDR regulation. In recent years, the entire palm oil supply chain has obtained sustainability certifications, now also recognized by the FAO. These standards have allowed producing countries and the processing industry to be pioneers in adopting a code of conduct that now serves as an example for other sectors affected by the EUDR. This case study highlights exceptional respect for the environment, biodiversity, workers’ rights, and business practices, contradicting the previous negative media narrative associated with this agricultural product, which is crucial both nutritionally and economically. In this regard, it is significant to cite the World Economic Forum, which has praised Indonesia and Malaysia for significantly reducing internal deforestation, with drops of 67% and 57%, respectively, between the periods 2015-2017 and 2020-2022, demonstrating the positive impact of the adopted policies.

Palm oil represents the most consumed type of vegetable oil globally, playing a crucial role in food security due to its contribution of saturated fats. This makes it a fundamental element to ensure a balanced diet globally, as well as being a key commodity for the economic progress of significant regions of the world. In Indonesia, for example, over 6 million smallholders depend on palm oil production for their livelihoods. Similarly, in the Central African Republic, about 500 former militants have been reintegrated into society as oil palm growers, while in Colombia, a gradual process of transforming former coca plantations into oil palm crops is underway.

After a past marked by deforestation practices and subsequent demonization, we have now transitioned to a resilient and sustainable production model. Even before the introduction of the EUDR regulation, 90% of palm oil imported into the European Union for food use was already certified as sustainable, with Italy leading the way at 95%.


Read the press release “Competere celebrates International Day of Forests” 

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