Deforested hillside in Indonesia

Poll shows EU citizens overwhelmingly want new laws to halt deforestation

Healthy, intact forests and other biodiverse ecosystems are essential for combating climate change, maintaining services such as clean water and supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people – yet deforestation and forest degradation remain rampant.

A new YouGov poll commissioned by ourselves and partner NGOs FERN, Greenpeace and WWF has been released today and it sends a clear message back to Brussels to take action.

The survey revealed that 87 per cent of those polled across 25 EU countries agreed that new laws are needed to ensure the products sold in EU countries do not contribute to global deforestation.

Children of West Papua

Children of the Knasaimos, West Papua (c) EIAimage

Ahead of the EU elections on Thursday, Forests Campaigner Vanessa Richardson said: “EIA is working hard in coalition with other groups to ensure forests are firmly at the heart of all solutions to combat climate change and to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals.

“We expect these findings to spur both the European Commission and prospective MEPs to commit to bold plans on how to combat deforestation, forest degradation and to protect human rights.”

The EU has made an international pledge to halt global deforestation by 2020 yet remains one of the largest markets for agricultural commodities, such as beef, palm oil, soy and cocoa, which have a major impact on the world’s forests. Agriculture in general is one of the main causes of the destruction of primary forests, according to recent data.

The European Parliament, governments, European citizens and NGOs have all called for regulatory measures to ensure that products placed on the EU market do not cause deforestation or violate human rights.

Similarly, new laws should stop the EU financial sector from facilitating global deforestation and environmental degradation –with existing voluntary industry standards and tools demonstrably insufficient to curb deforestation rates, strong binding regulation is urgently needed.

In the poll, 91 per cent of Europeans also said they cared deeply about forests and agreed that deforestation is harmful for people and wildlife.

The majority of EU citizens think not enough is being done to combat deforestation at national (66 per cent) and European (61 per cent) levels.