What is the Forest Footprint?

The Forest Footprint is a tool developed since 2013 by Envol Vert which aims to reveal, at a country level (France, Columbia…), the impact of consumption on worldwide forests. The purpose is to raise awareness about human pressures on exceptional natural ecosystems, and in particular on forest ecosystems.
The Forest Footprint measures the forest area which is potentially destroyed due to the consumption of some commodities, focusing on eight primary commodities with a high risk of deforestation: palm oil, soybean, coffee, cocoa, rubber, timber, meat, paper, and cardboard.


The Forest Footprint indicates how many square meters of forest are destroyed due to the impact of consumption patterns. The calculation is based on several criteria and the calculation steps are explained below. Basically, the idea is to measure the quantity of deforestation-risk commodities in a finished product, calculate the surface area needed to produce this quantity based on the average production output and then weight by a deforestation risk ratio. This gives us the Forest Footprint indicator.

Reminder: the Forest Footprint is expressed in square meters (m²) and is not cumulative. It simply allows to show the impact of consumption at a given t-time.

Calculation steps:

1) Quantity of commodities

The first step consists in measuring the amount of high-risk commodities in a finished product. The result is obtained by converting the quantity of finished product into a quantity of primary commodity using processing factors or allocation factors.

For Example:

The amount of cocoa in a chocolate bar is obtained by multiplying the amount of cocoa butter by the processing factor calculated as the ratio between cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

In the calculation of the average Forest Footprint in France, the consumption frequency of finished products is also taken into account. For example, the chocolate consumption in France is on average 8.1 kg per year and per household.

2) Surface area required

Once the quantity of risk commodities is calculated for every finished product, the result must be multiplied by the average production output in order to get the surface area required for production.

The average production output of every commodity depends on country of origin and may vary from one year to another (climate, pests, etc.). To take into account these variations, whenever it’s possible, we consider the average data on the last three years, and we focus on the average country-of-origin.

For example, for cocoa used in France, the country of production can be identified (Ivory Coast, Ghana, …) and linked to the average production output of this specific country. Data are gathered from various sources of international trade institutions or from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

3) Risk of deforestation

Once the surface area required to produce the commodity used in finished products is calculated, the result must be weighted by a deforestation ratio. The deforestation ratio is a percentage related to the deforestation risk; the higher the score, the higher the risk of deforestation.

Its calculation is based on several criteria including forest degradation and deforestation facts in the main countries of production, role of the commodity in commodity-driven deforestation, standards and regulations implemented on production or consumption, existing certifications, and other options.

Name of the criteria Weighting (total of 100 points)
Deforestation in producer countries  30
Increase of the production area  10
Deforestation vector 15
Degradation vector 10
Illegality in production 5
Standards in place in the consumer country  5
Sector commitments: social and environmental responsibility, zero deforestation policies 5
Certifications 15
Alternatives 5

4) Final results

Finally, the Forest Footprint obtained is a qualitative and quantitative information whose main purpose is to raise awareness of fellow citizens.

In addition, it has to be said that the forest footprint can also be calculated at different levels (at individual, territory or national level) and at different levels of accuracy. As a matter of fact, the information used for those calculations may differ for each product depending on the available data such as environmental protections, specific countries of origin or even specifications provided by companies.