Why forests matter: the business case for sustainable land use

March 19, 2018

 

With the International Day of Forests set to take place on the 21st March, we have dedicated this blog to the Lungs of the Earth; drawing upon our 2017 research to explore:

  1. Why forest matter to business, and

  2. How business can measure their impact on deforestation and land use change.

 

Corporate Action Towards Sustainable Forests and Land Use Change

 

Our research examined the metrics and targets publicly disclosed by the top 209 global companies against the Planetary Boundaries and Social Thresholds framework (Raworth, 2012; Rockstrom, 2009). Relevant findings include:

 

50 (24% of) companies report measures relating to Land Use

 

37 (18% of) companies have set targets relating to Land Use

 

Metrics include:

  • Total land disturbed & not yet rehabilitated

  • % of our top 10 ingredients sustainably sourced

  • Size of estate / Hectares of total land

  • % responsibly sourced forest commodities

  • Zero net deforestation

 

Why Forests Matter to Business

 

Land is central to the livelihoods of billions of people and for industries such as energy, extractives, forestry and agriculture. Up to US$941 billion of turnover in publicly listed companies is dependent on commodities linked to deforestation, including soy, palm oil, cattle and timber. Access to available land has become a key challenge for businesses, with reports of large corporations agreeing long-term leases to fertile land, particularly in Africa. Products like furniture, musical instruments, flooring or textbooks may be made from timber grown all over the world. Many businesses have taken significant action to ensure that the forests they depend on for wood and other products will be there in the long-term.

 

Concluding Thoughts…

 

Forests are central to the livelihoods of millions of people around the world and to industries reliant on its resources, such as palm oil and timber. Couple that with a changing climate and worsened biodiversity of which deforestation has been a major cause, it becomes clear that urgent action is needed to restore our forests for a sustainable future. Though there is corporate action on forests (e.g. FSC, RSPO, Net Zero), there is a long way to go to fill the gap to create meaningful improvement on forest sustainability.

 

References

 

Raworth, K., 2012. A safe and just space for humanity: can we live within the doughnut. Oxfam Policy and Practice: Climate Change and Resilience, 8(1), pp.1-26.

 

Rockström, J., Steffen, W., Noone, K., Persson, Å., Chapin III, F.S., Lambin, E., Lenton, T.M., Scheffer, M., Folke, C., Schellnhuber, H.J. and Nykvist, B., 2009. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and society, 14(2).

 

[1] fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space. It is a measure of the reflectivity of the earth's surface.

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