News story

Forests: Britain and businesses to tackle deforestation

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron announced new measures to tackle illegal deforestation around the world today

Prime Minister David Cameron announced new measures to tackle illegal deforestation around the world today, in partnership with the Government of Indonesia and the international business community.

The UK will work with businesses to source and produce sustainable timber and palm oil and tackle the wasteful practices that are driving deforestation.

Leading companies like Unilever and Kingfisher - which owns B&Q - are already transforming their business practices to help save tropical rainforests, protect the livelihoods of the poorest and safeguard precious habitats.

The UK will also work with British trade associations and companies to set out a roadmap to achieve 100% use of sustainable palm oil nationwide.

The UK Government will work with Indonesia and African countries that are at risk - such as Liberia and Ghana - to set up projects to protect them from deforestation. Our shared expertise and knowledge will help tens of millions of poor people protect their livelihoods and protect up to 39 million hectares of forest across Africa and Asia over the next 25 years.

Illegal logging, unsustainable forestry and agriculture is destroying 13 million hectares a year, an area seven times the size of Wales and affects nine out of ten of the poorest people in the world (1.2 billion people) who rely on forests for their livelihoods.

It also contributes to 17% of greenhouse gas emissions - more than global transport emissions. Action by governments and business is urgently needed to tackle this threat.

Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell said:

Deforestation deprives some of the world’s very poorest people of their livelihoods as well as having a major impact on the environment. This will have a clear effect on Britain.

The Coalition Government wants to pursue an ambitious approach to tackling both global poverty and illegal logging and today we’re setting out how we will work with the private sector and other governments to make a real difference.

I am delighted leading companies such as Kingfisher and Unilever are transforming their practices. More companies need to follow their example, and take urgent action to address the impacts of their operations on forests and livelihoods.

Ian Cheshire, Group CEO Kingfisher plc, said:

UK plc can and should play a role in helping to protect the world’s forests. At Kingfisher, we have a long heritage in responsible procurement that supports sustainable forestry. B&Q was a founder member of the Forest Stewardship Council and last year reached a long standing goal of sourcing 100% of our timber from proven, well managed sources - it is the only retailer in the UK which can make this claim.

But this still isn’t enough. The only long term solution includes reforestation.  That’s why we are exploring projects in the UK, Europe and in countries like Indonesia which would see us actively involved in reforestation. Our ambition is that we will create more forest than we use in our products.

The news comes during the Prime Minister’s visit to South East Asia this week. The scheme aims to draw on the UK’s existing International Climate Fund to work with the private sector, governments and international partners to drive investment from business to tackle issues surrounding deforestation.

The UK Government will work directly with up to ten countries to combat illegal logging and deforestation, and has announced:

  • £60m of funding for the next four years will increase our support to up to ten countries in Africa and Asia, drawing on achievements to date in countries like Indonesia.
  • £10m of the funding will be channelled to facilitate legal trade in timber in Indonesia, helping small Indonesian enterprises access international markets for timber products, worth over US$1 billion annually.

Read the full press release