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Deforestation-free supply chains

22 March 2024
Deforestation-free supply chains

There has been a growing trend in recent years of corporations introducing deforestation policies that in-turn affect the operations of supply chain participants, particularly in the agriculture, mining, and forestry sectors. Some corporations, including Australian companies, have pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains, acknowledging the role of sustainable forest and responsible land management practices in mitigating climate change.

But what does deforestation even mean? Across the world and in different states of Australia, there are material differences in what constitutes a forest, and therefore what constitutes deforestation. These differences are due to many different vegetative characteristics across different regions. 

AMPC has recently completed a major research project to understand these terms and their use from both a compliance perspective and an Australian context. The research report recommends the next steps include working with global partners to agree on how these differences can be addressed from an Australian context. 

“We started this research because various corporates are using different terminology and definitions, or in some cases, no specifically aligned definitions at all,” says AMPC’s General Manager Strategic Industry Development Veneta Chapple.

“Our research has been designed to help our industry address ambiguity and assist Australia’s red meat processors to better understand issues arising in relation to defining deforestation-free supply chains.” 

“Australia’s national definition of ‘forest’ is different from the definition applied by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has been adopted by the European Union (EU), the U.S. and Brazil, for example,” Veneta says. 

“The Australian red meat industry will need to be able to respond clearly to a range of domestic and export market requirements and engage with stakeholders to assist their understanding of reasonable expectations which do not unduly burden relatively low risk producers and processors,” Veneta says.

The research report makes five recommendations for government and industry:

  • Recognise there is a broad range of ‘deforestation free’ commitments being made by corporate interests and regional trade interests – some representing a formative position at this stage.
  • Recognise the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) represents the first set of regulations to emerge in key markets.
  • Seek further clarification of the extent to which the land use criterion in international definitions of ‘forest’ (notably in the EUDR) excludes specific agricultural land uses.
  • Support ABARES and other government agencies in Australia to review the recently released EU Observatory ‘Global Forest Cover’ map (released December 2023).
  • Consider further the most cost-effective approach for industry members to work with government agencies to establish credible datasets that delineate land use areas with forest cover that align with ‘agricultural use’ definitions and EUDR specific requirements.

Read the full report on the AMPC website