More and more companies are pledging to reduce their impacts on forests.
Photos: Jörg Böthling


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Hundreds of the world’s largest companies have publicly committed to remove deforestation from their commodity production and supply chains, but until recently, they only disclosed progress on one out of three pledges. New findings from Supply Change, a Forest Trends initiative, shows a dramatic increase in disclosure and clear recognition on their part for the need to work with small farmers.

Food giants, like Danone and Mars, buy raw materials from tens of thousands of farmers around the world, and those two are also among a dozen companies investing 160 million US dollars in a programme called the Livelihoods Fund, which is designed to help 200,000 small farms across Africa, Asia, and Latin America develop sustainable land-use practices. They’re hardly alone, according to NGO Forest Trends’ Supply Change initiative, which has identified at least 100 companies that have committed to helping small farmers improve their practices in an effort to slow deforestation – a clear recognition of the linkages among big businesses, small farms, and deforestation.

Until recently, those linkages were hidden in traditionally complex and opaque supply chains that were only in the past handful of years exposed piecemeal by a growing trove of studies, such as the 2014 Forest Trends paper “Consumer Goods and Deforestation”. This study in particular found that commercial agriculture accounted for 71 per cent of all tropical deforestation, and that the production of four commodities – palm, soy, cattle, and timber & pulp – caused most of the destruction.

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