Despite increasing and high-level attention to the importance of protecting rainforests, deforestation continues at alarming rates. Rainforest Foundation Norway’s report is released as 500 people gather at the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum. Norway, which has taken a lead role in rainforest protection by contributing 3 billion USD over the last ten years, organizes the event to celebrate results and identify challenges. Few other countries have followed Norway’s example and forest protection is severely underfinanced.
- As long as deforestation and forest degradation is happening at alarming rates, it is obvious that we’re doing some things wrong. The world needs new ideas, better policies and more efficient use of financial resources if we’re going to win this battle, says Øyvind Eggen, executive director at Rainforest Foundation Norway.
The report covers key topics that must be addressed to stop deforestation and forest degradation and presents recommendations for how the efforts for rainforest protection can achieve better results.
One major problem is increasing demand for products leading to deforestation, and the lack of effective regulations in place to curb this. Increasing demand for soy and meat is destroying the tropical forests of South America, while increasing demand for palm oil, especially for biofuels, leads to continued deforestation in Southeast Asia. The EU is currently discussing whether to adopt an action plan against deforestation, but no decision is yet to be taken. A range of private sector companies have committed to zero deforestation, but faces competition from other companies without the same self-imposed restrictions.
Rainforest Foundation Norway proposes that governments introduce measures against products that contribute to forest destruction, including through deforestation-free public procurement.
- Increased demand for soy and palm oil for meat production and biofuels are destroying the world’s rainforests. We call on countries to stop importing products that destroy the rainforest, for example by restricting biofuels from palm oil and soy, says Øyvind Eggen, executive director at Rainforest Foundation Norway.
The report also documents how large finance flows go to activities that are likely to increase deforestation, while securing funding for forest protection has been an uphill battle. While significant attention has been paid to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, there has been far too little focus on the impact and scale of domestic subsidies that drive deforestation in developing countries.
- We need an international initiative to redirect subsidies from activities that drive deforestation, to forest protection, says Eggen.
Protecting the remaining primary and intact forests is another suggested priority in the report, due to the importance of these areas for maintaining the ecosystem services of forests – including carbon storage. To achieve this, rainforest countries should develop land use plans that protect the remaining primary and intact forests, and not allocate such forests to industrial scale logging.
- Industrial scale logging is not a way to protect forests, says Eggen.
The report can be downloaded here.