Environmentalists warn of flaws in EU deforestation regulation

Ljubljana – The proposal for a regulation on deforestation-free products put forward by the European Commission is an important step towards protecting the world’s forests but contains many gaps and flaws that raise doubts about its potential effectiveness, warned Focus, a Slovenian environmental NGO.

“When importing goods from countries where mass deforestation is taking place, companies operating on the EU market will have to prove that the production of those goods has not led to the destruction of forests,” Focus said about the legislative proposal in a statement on Thursday.

“This is the first piece of legislation that really puts the onus on businesses, but its many loopholes cast doubt on whether it could really have an effective impact on global deforestation,” they stressed.

The EU is one of the biggest importers of products burdened by tropical deforestation and related emissions, added the Focus Association for Sustainable Development.

“Imported deforestation is the destruction of forests outside the EU’s borders, caused by the production of raw materials for products we consume in the EU,” Focus explained.

According to their data, the EU was responsible for 16% of imported deforestation and global forest destruction linked to international trade in 2017.

“For decades, companies in the EU have been able to import goods regardless of the damage caused by the producing country, so we certainly welcome regulation in this area,” commented Živa Kavka Gobbo, the president of Focus.

“But as it stands, the proposed regulation is not potent enough to protect the world’s forests and the people who live there. Therefore, its real effects in the fight against deforestation are questionable,” she added.

According to Focus, the regulation contains very few elements that would address the root causes of deforestation, poor forest management and grabbing land from indigenous peoples in producing countries.

“Prohibiting certain goods from being exported to the EU will only cause them to be exported to other markets. The EU should use this legislation to make radical changes on the ground,” according to Nina Tome, a member of Focus who deals with consumption-related deforestation.

“In addition, the European Commission’s proposal has not gone far enough towards protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, who are the best guardians of their forests,” Focus said.