Little Book of Big Deforestation Drivers provides 24 catalysts to address deforestation

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This hypothetical supply chain of a burger illustrates the complexity of global supply chains and the numerous actors and stages involved in the production and trade of a product from the forest to the end consumer.

A new book published today (Monday 18th November) by the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) outlines the global context to the drivers of deforestation. It provides a detailed overview of the most critical forest risk commodity supply chains and presents 24 regulatory, financial and supply chain catalysts to address the massive deforestation and forest degradation caused by the production and trade of the key forest risk commodities - palm oil, beef, soya, and timber.

The launch comes as the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convenes in Warsaw to discuss, amongst other items on the agenda, efforts to reduce deforestation and the UNFCCC mechanism for funding, accounting for, and paying for greenhouse gas emission reductions from forests – ‘REDD+’.

“While REDD+ is a hugely useful and viable mechanism, we need to stop thinking that it alone is going to solve the problem of deforestation in tropical countries,” says Matt Leggett, one of the lead authors.

“We need to look beyond the UNFCCC to address the fundamental problem, which is the unsustainable production and trade of commodities that are driving the conversion of forest land into agricultural land and which are responsible for over 50% of deforestation in tropical countries.”

Andrew Mitchell, Executive Director, The Global Canopy Programme, explains further, “Driving the process of deforestation is a tsunami of money fuelling global supply chains from small holders and ranchers to food processors, and to consumers in the aisles of supermarkets worldwide. Commodities such as beef, soya and palm oil are traded within seconds on spot markets, in a global business worth US$92 billion a year.”

“To stop this, we need to formulate a response which takes into consideration the complexity of global supply chains and which incorporates both the public and private sectors,” continues Mr Leggett.

“We need to prioritise strategies that enable long-term mitigation rather than short-term adaptation, particularly in light of the latest, leaked IPCC findings that predict falling agricultural yields compounded by rising demand. And it is here that private sector involvement is crucial; the private sector are well set-up to make long-term decisions that are needed to ensure sustainable returns on investment.”

Many of the catalysts described in the book are already being used by the public and private sectors in some form, to address deforestation; the critical question then, is why are we not already seeing significant reductions in global deforestation from forest risk commodity supply chains?

The problem explains Mr Leggett, is that efforts so far have largely been small scale, fragmented attempts. One important reason for this is the huge complexity of global supply chains.

The book provides a unique “single place to understand the complexity of commodity drivers and their impact on tropical forests and the range of options currently being explored to address them.”

More info
The Little Book of Big Deforestation Drivers can be read and downloaded from the GCP website at

It was written by Mario Rautner, Matt Leggett, and Frances Davis, all of the the Global Canopy Programme. The book was funded by the Australian Government and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) is a tropical forest think tank working to demonstrate the scientific, political and business case for safeguarding forest ecosystems as natural capital that underpins water, food, energy, health and climate security for all.

REDD is a global mechanism designed to offer positive incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and to promote the conservation, management and enhancement of forest stocks in developing countries (REDD+).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is at

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