Posts Tagged ‘rain forest’

Photo: Kate Evans, CIFOR, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Note the contrast between forest and agricultural landscapes near Rio Branco in Brazil. Learn how you can have the products you love without damaging the environment.

We all love chocolate, but it’s important to be mindful in our interconnected world to think about the potential consequences of producing the foods we love. I have written before about how you can avoid buying chocolate that relies on child labor (click here). Today we turn to the environmental radio show Living on Earth to learn about saving the rain forest and other critical ecosystems from the wrong kind of cultivation.

Host Steve Curwood talks to Anke Schulmeister of the World Wildlife Fund about the European Union’s decision to stop importing a half-dozen agricultural products from newly deforested areas.

“STEVE CURWOOD: When someone takes a bite of a hamburger or tofu or has a cup of coffee or chocolate bar, it’s hard to know if those foods added to the destruction of tropical forests that are so key for biodiversity and climate stability. …

The EU is moving to ban the importation of certain agricultural products from any newly deforested areas. And they are starting with soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee.

“The EU laws would compel purveyors to prove their products didn’t come from any newly deforested land. The proposed laws are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some 32 million tons a year and help the EU meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. It requires final approval by the European Parliament as well as each of the 27 EU member states. … How will people be able to understand that the cocoa that was used to make [chocolate] came, in fact, from a place that’s not being deforested, at least in contravention of this proposed set of regulations? …

“ANKE SCHULMEISTER: What this law is trying to do is that there is no choice for a consumer on whether the product is made with deforestation or not; it’s just simply you’re making sure that no matter which chocolate you buy, it is going to be free from deforestation. And to achieve that, there are measures in this legislation proposed that will ask a company to check down the whole supply chain. [No] environmental impact … neither human rights violation taking place. …

“For example, in Brazil, deforestation is still legal in certain aspects. … What the EU at the moment is proposing is to say, even if the Brazilian law allows that, we in the EU do not want to buy this. …

“CURWOOD: So beef is part of this, which of course, at the end of the day means leather. So let’s say an American shoemaker, who has a contract with somebody in China is now selling that label in the European Union, once this rule goes into effect, what kind of challenge would they would they face?

“SCHULMEISTER: This is a very good question, because that goes really much into the depth of it. So normally, what the commission has proposed is that you would need to know where it was produced no matter whether it came by China, or else. So if this American shoemaker would like to actually sell in Europe, he would need to get from his Chinese supplier information that tells him where he actually bought the leather. And then in the end where the cow was fed that produced that leather.

“CURWOOD: Sounds very complicated.

“SCHULMEISTER: Yes and no. Because let’s put it like this: we’re asking something rather simple in stating, is there still land where there’s forest or has this forest been converted to something else? And for this, there’s a lot of satellite data these days available. So you know, it’s very clear, very regularly updated. What is making it a bit more complicated is that there is a need for more transparency about your supply chains. …

“CURWOOD: What are the numbers? What kind of reductions in emissions, carbon emissions, do you think these rules, this legislation, will create? …

“SCHULMEISTER: If there’s no law, there will still be about 248,000 hectares a year of deforestation, and about 110 million tons of C02 emitted until 2030 per year. … We think that European Commission is on the right track. But you know, what our plea would be now to the European member states and the parliament is that, you know, to close some of the gaps which we see. One is that for example, other ecosystems — savannas or grasslands — are not included from the beginning.

“We [call] savannas ‘the inverted forests,’ meaning that their roots store nearly as much carbon as actually forests do, you know. On the landscape that they are they have such a dense root system, you know, that they really store a lot of carbon in there and that is then if it’s converted to agricultural land lost. [Also] it is not very strong on human rights violations or actually ensuring that there are no human rights violations. [Further] it is not addressing the finance sector. …

“And what for us is important is that this law applies the same to all companies so that we do not make a differentiation between sourcing from a high-risk region–so where there’s a high risk of deforestation–or a so-called low risk region. … And even if a company is sourcing from a high-risk region, there can be companies who have a good traceability and a good transparency.”

More at Living on Earth, here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: