Forest footprint is a methodology developed by Envol Vert in 2013 that measures the impact of consumption on deforestation at consumer, country, company, or community level (or whatever level).
The forest footprint is measured in terms of the area of forest needed to support our lifestyles and consumption patterns.
The Forest Footprint measures for each commodity the forest area potentially degraded and the risk of deforestation. Deforestation can be either direct, through commodities produced inside the country, or indirect, through imports of forest-risk commodities causing deforestation elsewhere (also called imported deforestation). For example, imports of shoes manufactured in Italy, whose leather comes from Brazilian cattle and was tanned in China. Another example of imported deforestation is the consumption of chicken fed with soy coming from Brazil.
Forest Footprint is measured at a given time and considers only primary commodities (minerals and tropical fruits are not included for instance). The forest footprint is not additional: the same area is used this year to produce your cocoa and will also be used again next year to produce your cocoa. However, the Forest Footprint may vary depending on consumption choices.
The methodology for calculating the Forest Footprint is based on the average consumption of key products (such as tyres, leather shoes, eggs, paper, etc.) deriving from forest-risk commodities (rubber trees, cattle farming, soy, timber, etc.). The forest area needed to produce these products is then calculated and weighted according to the risk of deforestation.
Why calculate Forest Footprints?
Agriculture causes 80 percent of deforestation.
Almost 50 percent of tropical deforestation can be explained by the illegal conversion of forests to croplands. About 25 percent of illegal tropical deforestation is driven by an export-oriented agricultural production of crops. Several primary commodities are directly associated with this deforestation.
Envol Vert has identified those with a high risk of deforestation: beef, soybean, coffee, cocoa, rubber, timber, and palm oil.
It is possible and urgent to act for reducing our forest footprint by making changes in our lifestyles and consumption habits.
Starting a vegetarian diet, reducing our consumption of eggs and dairy products by half, eating local products or green products, can reduce up to 88 percent of our forest footprint.
As a matter of fact, soy is primarily used as feed for factory-farmed livestock (especially poultry, dairy cows, and pork) and is the main driver for deforestation due to our consumption of animal products. Between 2000 and 2015, EU consumption of soy has caused the deforestation of a surface area equivalent to the size of Portugal.