Tropical Forests

Deforestation is a major cause of global warming and habitat loss, and many common consumer products contribute to it. Our experts explain how UCS is fighting deforestation—and how you can help.


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Latest Tropical Forests Posts

Restoring America’s Wetland Forest Legacy

Sam Davis, , UCS

Like many white, middle-class, suburban kids, I grew up with one foot in the forest. To me, that small woodlot, a green buffer along a half-polluted tributary, was a paradise unmatched by any other forest in the world. Unfortunately, like many other tracts of land across the United States, my childhood forest is gone—cleared for a housing development. Read more >

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Photo: Angelo Cavalli/Corbis

Are Business’ Zero-Deforestation Palm Oil Pledges Being Kept? Here’s How We’ll Know

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

One important development of the past decade is the large number of corporate commitments to eliminate deforestation and exploitation from their supply chains. In response to the demands of civil society, and recognizing the critical value of their brands’ images to their bottom lines, dozen of companies have pledged to become deforestation- and exploitation-free by specific dates—often 2020 or sooner. But how can we—the consumers who buy their products and insisted that they act—know whether they’re actually doing what they promised?

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Photo: Paulo Brando

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon in 2016: the Lazy Dragon Woke Up

Paulo Moutinho, Ph.D., and Raissa Guerra, Ph.D., , UCS

In Brazil, deforestation in the Amazon has been compared to a starved dragon. However, this dragon has been under control in the past. Deforestation in the region declined 70% from 2005 (19,014 km2) to 2014 (5,012 km2) in response to different strategies described in the literature. But the monster was not killed, it was just taking a nap. Read more >

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Ending Tropical Deforestation: Have We Got Our Priorities Backwards?

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

In working to change the world, there’s always a need to keep asking ourselves whether we’re focusing on what’s most important. This certainly applies to the effort to end tropical deforestation, which is why I and my UCS colleagues have put a lot of emphasis on figuring out what causes—and in particular, which businesses—are the main drivers of deforestation. Unfortunately, a recent study indicates that that global corporations that have committed to ending the deforestation they cause, have got their priorities backwards. And it suggests that the NGO community—and that definitely includes me—may have had our priorities wrong too.

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Restoring U.S. Forests by Mid-Century

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

As both scientists (in many published papers) and political leaders (in the Paris Agreement) have now recognized, to stop global warming—to keep the global temperature from increasing indefinitely—we need to peak and then reduce emissions rapidly. We need to get our release of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, down to a level below the amount that carbon sequestration by the biosphere takes out of the atmosphere. This means that we have to work incredibly hard on two parallel tracks, simultaneously. On the one hand, cut pollution drastically. And on the other hand, regrow the biosphere. Read more >

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