Why is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU fostering Deforestation or why is the EU fighting illegal logging but not deforestation*?
The EU communicates illegal logging as the main source and force for global deforestation. The EU program to fight illegal logging (FLEGT - forest law enforcement, governance and trade) is therefore called to be one of the most important actions against deforestation. What is fundamentally wrong. More than ¾ of global deforestation is not due to selling of illegal timber (or illegal logging) but on the establishment of agriculture land.
The EU is a strong advocate of agricultural subsidies. EU farmers and their products must be supported because of the cutthroat dumping prices of the global agriculture market. This is how the EU is to explain itself.
Agriculture prices are stable since 1990
But agriculture prices are almost stable since 1990 and they are not expected to decline any further. Efficiency increases in yield per hectare stagnate (breeding potentials in conventional genetic improvements and fertilizer gains are mainly exhausted) while food demand is still increasing, the EU is deliberately silent. But that was only mentioned in passing.
However, the impact of the EU agriculture policy is much more fatal. The EU agricultural subsidies are increasingly decoupled from the volumes of production what causes a substantial decrease of the total amount of the EU agrarian production (e.g. organic farming has lower productivity than conventional farming or agriculture land is mothballed).
This in turn means that the EU needs to import more and more agricultural products from abroad and thus shifted its agricultural production abroad (mainly to developing countries).
Shift of agriculture production to developing countries
EU agriculture subsidies are supporting less productive organic farming; they are paid for landscape conservation services of EU farmers and they are used to protect freshwater reserves – in short they are used to make EU environment healthy and worth living.
This happens, however, all at the expense of lower productivity of EU agriculture which leads to the developing countries need to produce EU food.Those developing countries that are currently employed with the massive problem of deforestation.
Why does that sound so familiar? You are thinking about biodiesel production based on Malaysian or Indonesian palm oil? You might be right. The “green revolution” in the matter of biofuels which was put into force by the EU ten years ago, took the same line as recent EU agriculture policy: after all both will be proofed to be fiasco as both will just accelerate the deforestation rate of rainforests.
An inconvenient truth
To get the point of this story: Why is the EU concealing the fact that the main force and source of deforestation the creation of agriculture land? Why is the EU communicating illegal logging as the main source of deforestation?
The answer is obvious: a serious commitment of the EU in the fight against the deforestation of rainforests their entire agricultural policy would run counter - it is much more comfortable to keep the whole agricultural area outside and to blame the economically less important area of the illegal timber logging for deforestation (for completeness must be mentioned at this point that we are of course against any illegal logging).
Of course, the inconvenient truth of EU agriculture policy being responsible for deforestation of rainforests doesn’t fit to the current agriculture strategy. This is why the EU is communication illegal logging as the main deforestation evildoer – FLEGT is thanks!
* There is an international program to fight deforestation on its way: it is called REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) - which forms part of global climate change mitigation efforts.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU, FLEGT and REDD+