The link between food procurement and sustainable forestry
Food consumption in the European Union is responsible for significant levels of deforestation, according to a recent report by the forestry organisation FERN. The link between food and forests is often overlooked but is of considerable importance, with more than 70 percent of deforestation in the tropics resulting from land being cleared for commercial agriculture. The EU consumes more than 30 percent of crops and livestock products grown on this land – twice that of Japan and China combined.
Drawing on the successful experiences of national governments in implementing sustainable timber policies, the report shows how government purchasing can have an important leveraging effect on the broader market. It puts forward five main commodities (palm oil, beef, cocoa, coffee and tea) to which sustainable procurement criteria could potentially be applied. These products are covered by certification schemes, have a clear link with deforestation and are imported in large quantities into the EU.
The report concludes, “Public procurement can have a significant impact on the overall direction of the market. Palm oil, beef, cocoa, coffee and tea are all commodities to which public procurement policy could potentially be applied.” It provides clear recommendations, both for the European Commission and Member States, to ensure that public procurement of food has a positive impact on sustainable forestry.