Agribusiness & Deforestation

Agribusiness—in which huge areas of forest are burned or cleared to make space for crops and livestock—is the number one driver of deforestation worldwide.

Deforestation in Sumatra

A tree stump is visible in an area which has recently been deforested to expand the Duta Palma palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia.

© Greenpeace / Natalie Behring

Deforestation for things like cattle grazing and palm oil plantations is turning some of the most biodiverse areas in the world into monocultures.

Palm Oil

From the fruit and seeds of the oil palm tree, straight into our soap, detergents, makeup, biscuits, and biofuels—palm oil is everywhere. It’s cheaper to grow than many of its alternatives, takes up less land area, and has a long shelf life. It’s no wonder many global brands are using it on an ever-growing scale. But while palm oil has many uses and benefits, its production can also have unjustifiable costs.

Palm oil is particular threat to Indonesia’s tropical forests. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of crude palm oil, with about 15 million hectares of land licensed for palm oil development.

In the last few years many of the world’s largest buyers of palm oil have adopted ‘No Deforestation’ policies, promising to buy palm oil that was not produced from deforested land or peat, and is free of human rights and labor abuses associated with the palm oil sector. But many companies are not living up to their commitments.

Cattle Ranching

Cattle ranching—and soy farming to feed the cattle—is the biggest cause of deforestation ins virtually every Amazon country.

Worldwide, deforestation due to cattle ranching releases 340 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, or 3.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this comes from the Amazon region.

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