Western Pallet Magazine February 2021 | Page 24


How Commodities Contribute to Deforestation

New analysis reported by the World Economic Forum shows that just seven agricultural commodities — cattle, oil palm, soy, cocoa, rubber, coffee and plantation wood fiber — accounted for 26% of global tree cover loss from 2001 to 2015. These agricultural commodities replaced 71.9 million hectares of forest during that period, an area of land more than twice the size of Germany.

As demand for food and other resources  continues to grow, forests are often cleared to make way for new fields and plantations. Scientists  estimate that over a quarter of tropical forests and just under half of temperate forests have been converted to production in human history.

Today, the majority of tree cover loss associated with the expansion of farms and plantations happens in the tropics, a troubling trend considering the vast carbon stocks and biodiversity held in rainforests. While we have a general understanding of where agribusiness has replaced forests, until now the world lacked information about the impact of specific products.

Of the seven agricultural commodities, cattle pasture replaced the most forest by far — 45.1 million hectares, or an area of land the size of Sweden. Cattle are responsible for 16% of total tree cover loss.

Oil palm is a distant second, replacing 10.5 million hectares from 2001 to 2015, while soy accounted for 7.9 million hectares.

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