Political ambition to tackle the loss of tropical forests may be stronger than ever before, but a disconnect remains in translating rhetoric into concrete action. Tropical forests are now widely recognised by governments for their important role in climate, food, water, energy, and livelihood security. Yet since 2000, the 25 forest countries included in the Forest 500 have lost 95 million hectares of tree cover and deforestation rates show little sign of slowing . While action at a global level is vital to tackle forest loss, a handful of governments have significant power to influence the issue. These ‘powerbrokers of deforestation’ could have large-scale impact if they were to adopt and enact relevant policies, alongside progress towards economic and social goals. The Forest 500 identifies and ranks the progress of 50 jurisdictions that have a central role to play in the race towards a deforestation-free global economy. The 25 national forest jurisdictions selected represent over 88% of tropical forest cover and around 87% of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2012. Agricultural commodity production is estimated to have driven 71% of all tropical deforestation between 2000 and 20123,4. Five forest risk commodities – paper, timber, beef, soya and palm oil – are responsible for a major proportion of this loss.
The forest jurisdictions account for a large proportion of the production of these commodities, producing 99% of soya, 96% of palm oil, and 62% of cattle originating in tropical regions5. Within these countries, 10 sub-national jurisdictions were selected and assessed as they are responsible for high volumes of forest risk commodity production, which is projected to lead or has already led to substantial forest loss.
However, responsibility for protecting tropical forests does not end with these forest jurisdictions. Trade partners also have a crucial role to play in driving integrated, global change. Accounting for over 72% of the total value of all forest risk commodity imports from the key tropical forest regions, 15 trading jurisdictions were identified and assessed for their national actions to remove deforestation from palm oil, soya, beef, paper, and timber supply chains.
This report tracks the progress of Forest 500 jurisdictions in reducing tropical deforestation during 2015.