Forests play a crucial role in climate control while supporting biodiversity, agriculture and sustaining local communities
The amount of land needed to grow crops for an increasing population will put even greater pressure on already threatened habitats. Forests are especially critical, but every year 46-58 thousand square miles are destroyed around the world to clear land for all types of agriculture and infrastructure. That's around 48 football pitches every minute1.
Why are forests so critical to our environment? Forests capture and store greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. When they are cut down, this carbon absorption ceases and, when they are burnt or left to decompose, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Estimates from the International Panel on Climate Change suggest that around 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions result from tropical deforestation2.
At the same time, forests play a key role in preserving biodiversity. They support four-fifths of terrestrial plant and animal life and help to regulate local rainfall patterns, which in turn helps to sustain agriculture.
According to the UN Environment Programme, forests also provide livelihoods for over 1 billion people across the world. And they provide food, water, fuel and medicine for billions more.
Forests and farming
Cargill recognizes that both forests and farming are critical to creating a more sustainable, food-secure future. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eliminating deforestation, and we cannot tackle the issue alone. Through our relationships with growers, consumers and other partners such as NGOs, we can use our position to help protect forests in the countries where we do business.
In 2014, we were the only agricultural commodities company to endorse the New York Declaration on Forests when we pledged to eliminate deforestation across our agricultural supply chains by 2030, and to halve it by 2020. In 2017, we were also among 12 of the world’s largest cocoa and chocolate companies to commit to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative to end cocoa supply chain deforestation.
We have been working to develop a roadmap, supported by clear policies and practices, that will lead us to deliver our 2030 commitment. Our Global Policy on Forests is underpinned by a series of detailed action plans for higher-risk supply chains, including cocoa. Much of our approach and activity looks cross-commodity as we aim to draw upon the diverse knowledge and experience we have in different parts of the business. For cocoa, we have assessed over 2.3 million hectares across our five origin countries using GPS technology to evaluate habitat type and tree cover loss. These assessments will lead to a baseline against which we will measure progress towards our 2020 and 2030 no deforestation goals.
Supporting our goals
Our work to tackle deforestation supports our Cargill Cocoa Promise goals of supporting the environment, increasing farmer resilience and working in partnership with others.