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Agriculture Climate Forests

Illicit Harvest, Complicit Goods

The State of Illegal Deforestation for Agriculture

By Cassie Dummett, Arthur Blundell, Kerstin Canby, Michael Wolosin, and Eszter Bodnar
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While subsistence agriculture and logging still contribute to deforestation, commercial-scale agricultural expansion is now recognized as by far the single largest driver of deforestation worldwide and thus also of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change.

Several initiatives have quantified how much and where deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture, and even how much of this deforestation was driven by international trade. However, fewer analyses have been able to determine the extent to which agricultural commodities are being grown on lands that have been illegally cleared of forests. This study therefore focuses on illegal deforestation driven by agricultural expansion, and places it within the scope and scale of all tropical deforestation.

This report revisits Forest Trends’ 2014 report, by reassessing the extent of illegal agro-conversion across the tropics from 2013 to 2019, and finds a similar story: more forest land is being illegally cleared to make way for agricultural crops and pastures than ever before.

RELEASE  | New Report: Tropical Forests the Size of Denmark Illegally Cleared Every Year for Commercial Crops Consumed Worldwide


Supplemental Materials

Figure 1 | Commercial Agriculture as a Driver of Illegal Tropical Forest Loss, 2013-2019

Figure 2 | Extent and proportion of agro-conversion in violation of national laws and regulations (minimum estimate), 2013-2019

Related Resources

Consumer Goods and Deforestation (Forest Trends, 2014)

Getting the “Bads” Out of Goods: Evolution from voluntary to regulated approaches in reducing the undesirable impacts of global trade (Forest Trends, 2018)

Economic impacts of illegal agro-conversion in tropical forested countries (Forest Trends, 2018)

Tackling Deforestation and Trade in Forest-Risk Commodities: Consumer country measures and the “legality approach” (Forest Trends, 2019)

Dependent Documents

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Illicit Harvest, Complicit Goods: Executive Summary

The State of Illegal Deforestation for Agriculture

By Cassie Dummett, Arthur Blundell, Kerstin Canby, Michael Wolosin, and Eszter Bodnar
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Illicit Harvest, Complicit Goods: Case Studies Annex

The State of Illegal Deforestation for Agriculture

By Cassie Dummett, Arthur Blundell, Kerstin Canby, Michael Wolosin, and Eszter Bodnar