The European Parliament has adopted a law to combat deforestation and degradation of forests. Companies must now document that goods imported to the European market cannot be linked to the clearing or degradation of forests.

It is a well-known fact that our consumption in the West contributes to forests being cut down – also in Borneo. But in the future, selling goods such as chocolate, furniture, beef or shoes will be done with a clear conscience. At least if it is up to the European Parliament.

Wide range of raw materials

A newly approved law will prohibit the sale of raw materials and products in the EU that originate from deforested or degraded forest areas since 2021. The law specifically targets palm oil, soya, cattle, coffee, cocoa, timber and rubber as well as products containing these raw materials.

Companies must now document that the products they import or export have not contributed to forest destruction. If they do not meet the requirements, they will be fined.

Pros and cons

“It is positive that the EU is focusing on curbing deforestation and that companies in Europe will now have to take responsibility. Hopefully, the law can help prevent large companies from clearing huge areas of rainforest,” says Save the Orangutan’s director Hanne Gürtler.

However, she is also concerned about the impact the law may have on local farmers, who only cultivate small areas.

“The law will have consequences for small local producers in Indonesia, among others, who may find it difficult to meet heavy documentation requirements.”

Threatens the orangutan

Clearing and degradation of forests – including the rainforests of Borneo – has huge consequences for the climate, local populations and biodiversity. It is one of the biggest threats to the already critically endangered orangutan.

The EU Parliament estimates that Europe is responsible for about ten percent of global deforestation. Before for the law can enter into force it must be approved by the member states.

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