Remove Commodity-Driven Deforestation From Supply Chains

Photo of man on a boat on a riverNature has beaten us to the punch – she’s already developed the perfect mechanism for capturing and storing carbon -- they’re called forests. Unfortunately, we humans are cutting these climate-protecting, life-preserving forests down at a tremendous rate. We destroy between 46,000-58,000 square miles of forest each year – that’s the equivalent of cutting down 48 football fields worth every minute! The Amazon has lost about 17% of its rainforest over the last 50 years[1], primarily to make way for cattle ranches that provide beef and leather. The other three big commodity culprits are soybeans, palm oil and timber (for pulp and paper). Clearing land to grow and harvest just these four commodities – soy, cattle (beef and leather), palm oil and timber (paper and pulp) accounts for more than half of global deforestation[2].

Photo of a man climbing a tree

The negative impacts of deforestation are two-fold – not only does the burning of forests release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but replacing a diverse, well-established forest with a monocrop like grass, palm, or soy also strips the soil of much of its ability to serve as a crucial carbon sink. So it should come as no surprise that deforestation results in roughly 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions[3].

Right now the world is racing to develop carbon capture technology, but nature has already beaten us to it…Forests are nature’s ready-made solution to capturing and storing carbon.” - Katie McCoy, Head of Forests, CDP

Businesses who commit to reversing deforestation can help slow climate change, protect communities and indigenous peoples, restore watersheds and support biodiversity. In addition, companies who commit to removing deforestation from their supply chains may also enjoy lower operating costs and greater stability in their supply chain as well as avoiding potentially damaging negative publicity[4].

What is expected of companies that commit to removing commodity-driven deforestation from all supply chains?

Companies will set targets and begin to work towards assuring that the key commodities in their supply chain like palm, soy, beef, paper and pulp are from deforestation-free sources.

Ideally, your company would set targets consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goal 15)[5] which call for a halt to deforestation by 2020.

Restoring our forest’s ability to store carbon on a global scale is a critical and cost-effective climate mitigation solution.

Here are some specific steps your company can take to move forward:

  • Establish company policies, a timeline and targets for conversion to 100% deforestation-free commodities by 2020 (or sooner if possible).
  • Establish a disclosure and reporting plan for removing commodity-driven deforestation from your supply chain within one year.
  • Engage with your supply chain to provide support through collaborative efforts, training, or financial assistance, if needed.
  • Report your company and supply chain’s approach for verification, transparency and compliance.

Companies committing to removing deforestation from their supply chains will be expected to complete an annual online questionnaire updating the Climate Collaborative on progress made toward the commitment. The questionnaire will be short and should not be burdensome to complete.

Watch this short video to see how Alter Eco fulfills their commitment to reducing deforestation.


How can the Climate Collaborative Help?

The Climate Collaborative is here to help you overcome any challenges you run into in the process of removing commodity-driven deforestation from your supply chain by providing critical information, tools and processes. As a collaborative we can address barriers together more effectively, restore forests and transition to a low-carbon economy.

Here are some specific ways we can help:

  • We are developing a white paper on issues surrounding removing deforestation from your supply chain. It will include activities and organizations that can help companies remove deforestation from their supply chain. The paper will also identify a comprehensive list of resources, tools, guidelines and service providers to assist businesses in making and fulfilling this commitment. Stay tuned!
  • In the future, we plan to develop criteria, guidelines, and checklists of best practices for companies to assess suppliers, provide training and encourage progress. Please share your best practices with us so that we can include your knowledge in our compilation.
  • We will facilitate networking, collaborative efforts, and working groups as interest demands. Please let us know your needs and interests. 


Make a Commitment



Our Forests Resources page highlights case studies, videos, tools, and other resources from our partners to help organizations overcome challenges in the process of removing commodity-driven deforestation from their supply chain.

For those needing more tailored support, Sustainable Food Trade Association is available to help.