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Deforestation targets likely to be missed

There is no chance of hitting targets to tackle deforestation by 2020 at the current rate of progress, according to this year’s Forest 500 analysis.

Forest 500 identifies the most influential players in the supply chains of the four key forest risk commodities: palm oil, timber, cattle and soy. The companies, financial institutions and governments are ranked annually on their commitments to tackle deforestation.

This year marks the halfway point from when Forest 500 began to track progress towards the 2020 deadlines of the New York Declaration on Forests and the Consumer Goods Forum goals, which many of the companies assessed have signed up to.

There are clearly businesses leading the way, including Marks and Spencer, Mars, Unilever and Danone – all of which received top marks for zero-deforestation policies linked to specific commodities.

However in general efforts need to improve dramatically in the next three years, especially in relation to cattle production, said the report’s author Sarah Rogerson.

“Our 2017 analysis of company commitments shows that at current rates of policy uptake, the 2020 goals to eliminate commodity driven deforestation will not be met. At current rates, the 250 most influential companies will not have introduced, let alone implemented, policies covering the key forest risk commodities by 2020.”

Only 16% of the Forest 500 companies have an overarching deforestation policy. Nearly 40% of the companies assessed have a forest policy for one, but not all, of the commodities in their supply chains.

Cattle supply chains still have the fewest forest policies – just 15 of the 86 companies assessed have a deforestation policy for production or procurement.

There has been “almost no improvement” at all in the last four years, said Rogerson, with some companies “going backwards”. Nike Inc., Burger King, VF Corp’s subsidiary Timberland and Eagle Ottowa have removed deforestation policies for beef or leather procurement from their website over the last three years, she said.