The European Union is the world’s second-largest importer of products derived from deforestation, according to a new report from WWF, the former Worldwide Fund for Nature.
China comes in first place, ahead of the EU. However, within the EU, Belgium is one of the eight main countries involved, together accounting for 80% of imports of deforestation products.
Deforestation in areas such as the Amazon rainforest has negative consequences for ecosystems worldwide, but the economic interests of the forest are also important to those on the ground, and many of the materials produced as a result of deforestation end up on the market in Belgium.
Last year, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Commission to tackle the problem, and the Commission is shortly to bring forward its proposal on new legislation to combat the problem of deforestation.
In the meantime, the WWF report lays bare the extent of the problem and what the EU is currently doing to contribute to it.
The report states that between 2005 and 2017, the EU was directly responsible, via products it imported, for 3.5 million hectares of deforestation. The rate dropped during the period, but still accounted for 16% of all deforestation, behind only China on 24%.
The main products associated with deforestation are soy, palm oil, beef, wood products, cocoa and coffee.
During the period in question, eight EU countries – Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Belgium – were responsible for 80% of the deforestation involved.