Deforestation is the purposeful clearing of forested land. Forests are cut down to make space for animal grazing, agriculture, and to obtain wood for fuel, manufacturing, and construction. Deforestation has greatly altered landscapes around the world and continues to do so today.
Deforestation is the second largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, trailing only fossil fuel use. Deforestation can lead to all sorts of problems, including biodiversity loss, soil erosion, desertification, and flooding. Deforestation also threatens peoples’ livelihoods and increases inequality and conflict.
As a result, many companies around the world have made pledges to remove deforestation from their supply chains. In fact, more than 94 companies had adopted zero-deforestation commitments by 2021. But while these companies are talking the talk, they don’t seem to be walking the walk.
According to a new study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, companies’ deforestation-free supply chain pledges have barely impacted forest clearance in the Amazon.
The research team from the University of Cambridge, Boston University, ETH Zurich, and New York University found corporate pledges to not purchase soybeans grown on land deforested after 2006 have only reduced tree clearance in the Brazilian Amazon by 1.6% between 2006 and 2015. The researchers found that if these pledges had been implemented, the current levels of deforestation in Brazil could be reduced by approximately 40%.
According to the research team, the findings of the study indicate that private sector efforts are not enough to stop deforestation. Political leadership will also be vital to forest conservation efforts.
Photo, posted November 18, 2020, courtesy of Ivan Radic via Flickr.