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Combatting deforestation

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Combatting deforestation

Forests are under threat from deforestation and degradation. Protecting these forests is an effective measure against global warming and the loss of precious ecosystem services.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss (COM(2008) 645 final of 17.10.2008)



In this paper, the European Commission sets out lines of action for the European Union response to deforestation, invites contributions from stakeholders, and aims to kick-start initial actions that create the foundations of a global response to deforestation.


  • The EU calls for a halt to global forest cover loss (i.e. a change from a forest to a non-forest state) by 2030 at the latest and for tropical deforestation to be reduced by at least 50 % by 2020 as compared to current levels.
  • It considers that the fight against deforestation must take place on several levels. These range from strengthening national and local forest governance and improving monitoring mechanisms, to taking into account consumer demand and creating financial incentives to preserve forests. This action must take place within the framework of international agreements, such as the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity and Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • It shows that policies already in place in the EU can help tackle deforestation, such as the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT); green public procurement; eco-labelling; and work carried out in the framework of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA).
  • It indicates how proceeds from the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) could be used to help fund the fight against deforestation.
  • It proposes the setting up of a global mechanism for incentivising the preservation of tropical forests, which has become REDD+ (i.e. Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, including through afforestation, conservation and sustainable management of forests).


Covering roughly 30 % of the world’s land (and 40 % of the EU’s land mass), forests are integral to environmental health. They provide important habitats for biodiversity, crucial services such as erosion prevention, water purification and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage and sustain the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people globally.

Meanwhile, forests are under threat from deforestation, which destroys 13 million hectares every year according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The main causes of this are conversion to agriculture and poorly controlled infrastructure development.

For more information, see the European Commission’s websites on:


Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 of 20 December 2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community (OJ L 347, 30.12.2005, pp. 1-6)

Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market (OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, pp. 23-34)

Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’ (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, pp. 171-200)

Communication from the Commission - A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector (COM(2013) 659 final of 20.9.2013)

last update 14.09.2015