The European Union (EU) is the largest importer in terms of value, not quantity, of products such as palm oil, meat or soy produced on illegally deforested land, according to a study published today by the NGO Fern.
The study "Stolen goods: the complicity of the EU in illegal tropical deforestation" indicates that in 2012 the European Union imported amounts equivalent to some 6,000 million euros (6,300 million dollars) of soy, meat, leather and palm oil originating on land cleared illegally from forests located in tropical forests.
This, according to the NGO's calculations, represents about a quarter of the total world trade in these products.
"Demand for goods produced in threatened forests is driven by a number of EU policies, such as agriculture, trade and energy," said Saskia Ozinga, a member of Fern, in a statement.
"We urgently need an action plan to make these policies coherent, so that their consumption in the EU is reduced and to ensure that only legally and sustainably produced goods are imported," he added.
Illegally deforested hectares:
The NGO also estimates that some 2.4 million hectares were illegally deforested between 2000 and 2012 to produce these products that ended up in the European Union, which is equivalent to an area equivalent to one football field every two minutes.
Among all the partners of the Union, the countries that lead in terms of importing these products are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France, which the NGO considers “collectively responsible for three-quarters in regarding destroyed forest areas ”.
The products sent to each country vary remarkably, indicates the document, which indicates that the Netherlands is, "by far, the most important destination in Europe for these exports", receives a third of the Community imports of palm oil produced in deforested areas of illegally, a product that is also widely consumed in Germany.
Italy, for its part, receives mainly leather, France imports soybeans that are commonly used to feed livestock, according to the NGO, and the United Kingdom leads imports of beef.
Countries affected by deforestation:
The countries most affected by this process of illegal deforestation to produce the goods that are imported into the EU are Brazil and Indonesia.
The South American giant especially suffers from livestock activities, while the Southeast Asian country is particularly affected by logging and palm oil operations, says the NGO in its document, in which it also states that "at least 80% of these activities are illegal ”.
Other affected countries are Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon and Papua New Guinea, according to the NGO, which also points out that these illegal activities could grow in Laos and Cambodia.
The NGO Ferm has been dedicated since 1995 to activities related to forests and deforestation and to the EU.