About

Illegal Deforestation Monitor (IDM) monitors illegalities relating to conversion of forests for export-oriented agribusiness, the largest driver of global deforestation. It brings together news on illegal deforestation from around the world, from the Amazon to Southeast Asia, and combines it with new in-depth analysis of individual cases and expert commentary on the problem and the response of companies and governments.

The rapid destruction of the world’s tropical forests is a major contributor to climate change, and is having devastating impacts on the environment, wildlife and forest-dependent people. This global orgy of destruction is being driven by ‘big ag’ – the clearance of forests to make way for large-scale agriculture and tree plantations. This clearance is in turn being driven by rapidly increasing international demand for products like palm oil, soy, beef, cocoa, rubber, furniture and paper, especially in Europe, North America and East Asia.

While the role of ‘big ag’ and consumer demand in driving deforestation is now widely appreciated, what is less well known is that most of this deforestation is actually illegal. This is not just ‘big ag’, it is ‘bad ag’. In 2014, a major report by Forest Trends brought together evidence from around the world and demonstrated the rampant illegality at the heart of the agro-conversion disaster. The report estimated that at least half of all recent tropical deforestation was due to commercial agricultural expansion which was illegal in some way. There are usually licenses obtained for this deforestation, but these are issued illegally, and companies violate the terms. In most cases, the majority of the products produced on the land cleared illegally were destined for export. The international trade in such commodities was estimated at over $60 billion per year.

These under-appreciated illegalities have important implications for global efforts to tackle deforestation, including for companies and policymakers in producer and consumer countries.

By acting as a continuously updated, single source of aggregated news and analysis, Illegal Deforestation Monitor’s goal is to increase awareness and understanding, and thus help drive and influence global action to tackle the problem.

Illegal Deforestation Monitor is managed by Earthsight, in partnership with Fern. Some background content (including country profiles) is in part reproduced from the 2014 Forest Trends report, with their permission. Any views expressed on IDM are those of Earthsight, not Fern or Forest Trends.

This website has been produced with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The contents of this website can in no way be taken to reflect the views of DFID, however.

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