Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Global trade is key driver of deforestation

Destroyed tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin, Brazil Destroyed tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin, Brazil Shutterstock
18 Nov
2014
The ever-growing international trade in beef, soy, palm oil and wood products has been found as one of the key drivers of worldwide deforestation

The think-tank Center for Global Development (CGD) has commissioned a report to study deforestation in seven countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea – and to analyse how much of that could be attributed to global trade and consumption of key products.

‘From having been caused mainly by smallholders and production for local markets, an increasing share of deforestation today is driven by large-scale agricultural production for international markets,’ says Martin Persson, assistant professor at Physical Resource Theory, Chalmers University of Technology, one of the authors behind the report.

‘More than a third of global deforestation can be tied to rising production of beef, soy, palm oil and wood products,’ he continues. ‘If we exclude Brazilian beef production, which is mainly destined for domestic markets, more than half of deforestation in our case countries is driven by international demand.’

The findings include the 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions transferred overseas by the globalised markets of these key products. As a result, some campaigners are now starting to look away from the countries where deforestation is taking place, instead concentrating on the developed countries – and the multinational corporations stemming from them – to address the demand side of the supply-and-demand processes keeping deforestation as a profitable enterprise.

‘Today, both public and private consumers – be it individuals or corporations – have the possibility to contribute to the protection of tropical forests by holding suppliers accountable for the environmental impacts of their production,’ adds Persson.

deforestation-mapGlobal trades of key products driving deforestation. Image courtesy of the Centre for Global Development

The report comes as Brazilian NGO Imazon, which works to support sustainable development in the Amazon rainforest, has revealed that deforestation in Brazil escalated by over 450 per cent in October 2014, compared to the previous year.

The group’s Deforestation Alert System found that clearcutting in Brazil’s nine Amazon basin states hit 244 sq km (94 sq miles) over the month, compared to just 43 sq km (17 sq miles) in October 2013. About 60 per cent of deforestation took place on privately owned land or on land that is occupied by squatter-farmers, the group said.

Geographical will be taking an in-depth look at the state of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in our January 2015 issue. Click here to subscribe to our print and digital editions.

Related items

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe to Geographical!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    Hung out to dry
    Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for mill...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    Mexico City: boom town
    Twenty years ago, Mexico City was considered the ultimate urban disaster. But, recent political and economic reforms have transformed it into a hub of...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Deserts

An evening discussing Oman’s hidden conservation heritage. Fifty Geographical readers…

Deserts

Biosphere 2 was one of the most ambitious experiments in…

Forests

High-quality, affordable drones can revolutionise the way that landscape and…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig charts the impact of volcanoes on nearby human…

Mapping

A volunteer-led digital mapping project is at the heart of…

Cities

As the planet urbanises, attention is turning towards the most…

Forests

Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many…

Cities

A rising number of cruise ships and their ‘overlooked’ diesel…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig charts the growth and impact of the world’s…

Deserts

Long-term studies reveal the Sahara desert has expanded substantially over…

Water

South America’s wealthiest economy is at a crossroads between environmental…

Forests

The European Court of Justice finds the logging of a…

Mountains

In this extract from his new book, Tides, mountain climber…

Cities

New data from the World Health Organization reveals that nine…

Water

In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan,…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps out the global production and distribution levels…

Water

Millions of Americans are living in areas at high-risk of…

Mapping

New interactive maps combine precipitation and temperature to show climate…

Cities

Public transport in India could be on the verge of…

Water

To retrace the route of the fur voyageurs on the waterways…