NGOs join forces to urge Ministers to stop forest destruction

NGOs join forces to urge Ministers to stop forest destruction

2 February 2022
Press Release

Activists across Europe held protests today highlighting the alarming rate at which the world is losing forests, and demanding that Ministers improve the upcoming EU anti-deforestation law.

Brussels, 2 February 2022

Organised under the umbrella of the #Together4Forests campaign, environmental and animal protection organisations behind the protest are calling on national governments to curb the EU’s contribution to forest and ecosystem destruction, as well as human rights violations around the world, ahead of a meeting of environment ministers in Brussels to discuss the new law next month.

From Swedish forests to Romanian mountains, activists took aerial photos to illustrate how quickly the world's forests and ecosystems are disappearing – an area the size of a football pitch every two seconds – partly due to European consumption of products from the cleared areas. Activists are calling for products that can put ecosystems at risk (such as meat, soy, maize, rubber, wood and paper) to be proven free from natural destruction before they are sold on the EU market. [1]

The European Commission published a draft anti-deforestation law on 17 November 2021, after over one million people and over 160 NGOs in the #Together4Forests coalition called on them to protect human rights, forests and other ecosystems from the impacts of European consumption and investments by banks operating in the EU. The Commission’s proposal would for the first time require companies selling certain products in the EU to show that their supply chains did not lead back to destroyed forests. 

However, according to NGOs, at the moment the Commission’s plans fall short, as it only covers a small number of products, does not protect other natural ecosystems (such as wetlands and savannahs), fails to  adequately protect human rights, and does not cover the financial sector.

Eurogroup for Animals welcomes the Commission’s proposal as producers intending to export to the EU would be incentivised to switch to more sustainable food production systems. However, the upcoming legislation must avoid loopholes that would defeat its purpose. It is key that the scope of products is extended to all livestock as these animals are most often fed with soy that would be banned in the EU and that the geographical scope includes other ecosystems, such as wetlands, savannahs, and grasslands.

Next steps

The Environment Council will examine the European Commission’s proposed anti-deforestation law and will debate amendments to it. The French government in charge of the ministerial meetings has already indicated they will make this law a priority during their term. The anti-deforestation law is expected to be on the agenda of the next meeting of EU environment ministers in Brussels on 17 March.

The European Parliament has also appointed the key MEPs leading debates on the law and will carry out negotiations through the spring.

[1] Protests took place in Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Romania, Sweden, Italy and Estonia.

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