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

The Land Sector in INDCs: What We Have and What We Need as Paris Climate Talks Begin

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

As the world’s political leaders come to Paris for the international climate negotiations (COP21), how do things look with respect to the land sector (agriculture and forests), which is responsible for nearly ¼ of global greenhouse gas emissions? Over the past year, the Union of Concerned Scientists has been analyzing how countries included the land sector in their “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs). What are their plans and how could they be made better?

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In the Cloud of Haze, a Silver Lining?

, analyst, Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative

The haze in Southeast Asia these past couple of months has been truly unimaginable. Burning vegetation and peatlands has been devastating for the health of millions of people, for the global climate, for regional economies, and for education. The scale of this crisis became impossible to ignore. And recently, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo (Jokowi), has issued strong instructions which if implemented, would help to avoid future disasters of this kind. Read more >

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Who’s Responsible for Palm Oil Deforestation—Small Farmers or Big Companies?

, scientific adviser, Climate and Energy

In recent days, with massive fires in Southeast Asia again creating the dangerous haze that endangers the health and lives of millions, we’ve seen the recurrence of the claim that fires and deforestation are caused by small farmers, not big companies and their plantations. Read more >

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There Would Be No Smoke If There Were No Fires

Sarah Henderson, PhD
, , UCS

Right now Indonesian farmers are burning hundreds of thousands of hectares of the oldest rainforests on earth to clear land for plantation crops. The resulting smoke has covered Southeast Asia in a thick haze, affecting the health of hundreds of millions of people. This happens every year, which is incredibly frustrating because the Indonesian government made slash-and-burn agriculture largely illegal in 2001, following the severe regional haze it generated 1997-1998. On paper those laws were strengthened in 2009 and again 2014, but in actuality the 2015-2016 season is likely to be the worst on record.

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Indonesia on Track to Have the Worst Fire Season Since 1997

Miriam Marlier, Columbia University and University of California, Los Angeles; Guido van der Werf, VU University Amsterdam; David Gaveau, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); Robert Field, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Allan Spessa, The Open University
, , UCS

Much of western Indonesia is currently undergoing massive fires, producing enormous amounts of smoke-haze, and disrupting large parts of society in the region. This is unlikely to be ‘normal’ seasonal burning; it could rank among the worst fire seasons on record in Indonesia, with frequent and larger fires this year than in previous years. The burning will likely last for at least another month.

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