The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched a consultation on Tuesday seeking input on whether the government should introduce a new law that would require businesses to ensure that the “forest risk” commodities they use have been produced legally.
Almost half of all recent tropical deforestation is due to the illegal conversion of land for commercial agriculture and timber plantations. With the exception of timber, there are currently no legal requirements in the UK for businesses to ensure the commodities that they use were produced legally. In the country, the expansion and significant consumption of beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, timber, rubber, and soya are associated with deforestation.
In recognition of the importance of deforestation in supply chains, the UK government established the Global Resource Initiative in 2019 as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan. The independent task force consulted more than 200 organizations and businesses and submitted a final recommendations report in March. One of the organization’s key recommendations was for a mandatory due diligence requirement.
Acting on this recommendation, the UK government asked for public input as to whether it should propose a new law to require businesses to ensure commodities have been produced legally. The new law is designed “to prevent forests and other important natural areas from being converted illegally into agricultural land.” Any businesses that do not comply and undertake due diligence to show that they took “proportionate action” would be fined.
This consultation closes on October 5, after which the government will publish a report with a summary of the feedback.