Green Deal: measures to step up the fight against global deforestation

  • Binding targets to protect forests, in particular primary forests  
  • Robust implementation and enforcement of existing instruments  
  • Future trade and investment agreements should contain binding provisions against deforestation  

MEPs outline how the EU can contribute to tackling worldwide deforestation and call for domestic policies to be revised to protect European forests.

In the non-binding resolution adopted on Tuesday with 543 votes to 47 and 109 abstentions, in response to a Commission communication, MEPs call for more support to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests, protect biodiversity and carbon sinks, as well as to recognise forests’ productivity and ecosystem services.

Binding targets and effective rules

The Plenary wants binding targets to protect and restore forest ecosystems, especially primary forests, consistent with the EU 2030 biodiversity strategy’s proposals. MEPs call on the Commission to propose due diligence rules for financial institutions that would prevent EU financial entities or banks from being linked directly or indirectly to deforestation, forest degradation or degradation of natural ecosystems, which often causes indigenous residents to be subjected to human rights violations.

Supply chains and trade agreements free from deforestation

The Commission should propose measures to ensure sustainable and deforestation-free supply chains for products and commodities placed on the EU market, with a particular focus on tackling imported deforestation, says the text. Moreover, future trade and investment agreements must contain binding provisions to prevent deforestation, says the draft resolution. Finally, MEPs want the European Green Deal’s external dimension to be strengthened through alliances and partnerships with third countries, to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Protection of primary forests

Between 1990 and 2016, an area of 1.3 million square kilometres of the world’s forests was lost, with a destructive effect on biodiversity, climate, people, and the economy.

Afforestation, where trees are planted in an area not previously forested, could under certain conditions, help the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the MEPs said. However, newly planted forests cannot replace primary forests, which provide more carbon dioxide storage and more essential habitats than younger and newly planted ones.