Deforestation displaced: trade in forest-risk commodities and the prospects for a global forest transition
Journal article, 2019
While many developed countries are increasing their forest cover, deforestation is still rife in the tropics and subtropics. With international trade in forest-risk commodities on the rise, it is becoming increasingly important to consider between-country trade linkages in assessing the drivers of-and possible connections between-forest loss and gain across countries. Previous studies have shown that countries that have undergone a forest transition (and are now increasing their forest cover) tend to displace land use outside their borders. However, lack of comprehensive data on deforestation drivers imply that it has not been possible to ascertain whether this has accelerated forest loss in sourcing countries. To remedy this, we present a land-balance model that quantifies deforestation embodied in production of agricultural and forestry commodities at country level across the tropics and subtropics, subsequently tracing embodied deforestation to countries of apparent consumption using a physical, country-to-country trade model. We find that in the period 2005-2013,62% (5.5 Mha yr(-1)) of forest loss could be attributed to expanding commercial cropland, pastures and tree plantations. The commodity groups most commonly associated with deforestation were cattle meat, forestry products, oil palm, cereals and soybeans, though variation between countries and regions was large. Alarge (26%) and slightly increasing share of deforestation was attributed to international demand, the bulk of which (87%) was exported to countries that either exhibit decreasing deforestation rates or increasing forest cover (late-or post-forest transition countries), particularly in Europe and Asia (China, India, and Russia). About a third of the net forest gains in post-forest transition countries was in this way offset by imports of commodities causing deforestation elsewhere, suggesting that achieving a global forest transition will be substantially more challenging than achieving national or regional ones.
land use change
forest conservation policy