Government sets out plans to clean up the UK’s supply chains to help protect forests

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Businesses, producers and governments from around the world are asked to help shape new measures in a new consultation, helping to tackle illegal deforestation associated with UK supply chains.

Demonstrating the UK’s commitment to go further than ever before to clamp down on illegal deforestation, the consultation will help shape plans requiring due diligence from businesses to ensure they are using commodities produced in line with relevant local laws.

The measures will make it illegal for larger businesses in the UK to use commodities whose production is associated with large-scale forest loss such as cocoa, beef, soy, coffee, maize and palm oil, where they have not been produced in line with relevant local laws.

Businesses will be also required to undertake due diligence to show that they have taken action to ensure this is the case, and report on this annually.

Launching the consultation, International Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith, commented: “Our forests not only have a vital role in cooling the planet, they are a source of clean air and water, home to indigenous communities and some of the most precious biodiversity on Earth – protecting them is essential to our survival.

“Now the Environment Act has passed into law, we have the opportunity to shape these due diligence measures so we are effectively tackling key drivers of deforestation.

“Alongside introducing these world-leading measures, we intend to ensure the global coalition that we brought together last month under the UK presidency at COP26 to commit to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030 becomes reality.”

Forests absorb up to one-third of the global CO2 released from burning fossil fuels every year, but we are losing them at an alarming rate.

Between 2015-20 an area of forest the size of 27 football pitches was lost every minute – with almost three quarters of deforestation linked to the expansion of agriculture, with land being cleared to make way for grazing animals and to grow crops.

Globally, nearly half of all recent tropical deforestation was the result of illegal clearance for commercial agriculture and timber plantations, and this figure is closer to 90% in some key forests.

The consultation will seek views on:

  • Which forest risk commodities should be brought under initial regulations
  • Which businesses should be in scope of the regulations
  • How businesses should conduct due diligence exercises to identify, assess and mitigate risk; and what information should be included in their annual reports:
  • What elements of business reports should be made public
  • How the enforcement authority will monitor and ensure compliance with regulations.

This announcement forms part of a package of measures to ensure that ‘greater resilience, traceability and sustainability’ are built into the UK’s supply chains and contribute to global efforts to protect forests and other ecosystems.

Secondary legislation is needed to implement the Environment Act regulations, which will then make it illegal for larger UK companies to use designated key forest risk commodities if they have not been produced in line with relevant local laws, and require due diligence on company supply chains to ensure this.

Businesses that do not comply with these requirements may be subject to fines and other civil sanctions.

The consultation will gather evidence on how government can implement due diligence regulations effectively.

This consultation closes at

More information about this consultation and how to take part is available on the UK Government website.