Goal 3: Significantly reduce deforestation derived from other economic sectors by 2020
- After agriculture, timber extraction, mining, infrastructure development, and human settlements are the most important activities driving forest loss.
- There are still no comprehensive and continuous efforts to measure the impacts of these sectors on forests. However, a number of studies look at the deforestation of other economic activities and several industry initiatives are under development. We expect that these developments will start filling the data gaps in coming years.
OVERVIEW OF GOAL
Other sectors not covered in Goal 2, including timber logging, mining and infrastructure are major causes of deforestation, driving more than one third of global forest loss.(16) Due to the lack of data that link aggregate forest loss to specific sectors we remain unable to define criteria and indicators that measure relevant impacts or progress in addressing these drivers. Our assessment therefore relies on case studies and policy review. The assessment of progress towards eliminating deforestation from wood products is covered in the Report: Progress on the New York Declaration on Forests: Eliminating Deforestation from the Production of Agricultural Commodities – Goal 2 Assessment Report.
Public initiatives that address deforestation driven by other economic sectors
Governments play a key role in addressing deforestation that occurs in relation to mining and infrastructure development. Policies, regulation and law enforcement can help avoid, reduce, mitigate or compensate forest loss. Mitigation strategies range from project-specific interventions, due diligence and approval processes (e.g. environmental impact assessments) to incentives that reward better practices or fines for illegal ones. Other strategies include higher-level and integrated policy measures, such as land-use planning and restricting mining in designated areas. In addition, governments play an important role in supporting private sector efforts to reduce deforestation impacts by promoting better practices (e.g. in public-private partnerships).
Accountable management of natural resources
Several governments have recognized the deforestation risk associated with mining. Efforts to reduce the impact of mining concessions on forests include sustainable or green mining plans in Guyana and the Republic of Congo, and a restriction on mining in protected areas in Indonesia. Furthermore, 49 countries (Cameroon, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Liberia, Peru, among others) are members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to gather and share information along the mining value chain from the point of extraction. As of 2015, 31 out of the 49 signatory countries have obtained the EITI global standard for the promotion of transparent and accountable management of natural resources.(17) Additional efforts are however necessary, including to address environmental risks related to illegal mining activities.
Private initiatives that address deforestation driven by other economic sectors
Private sector actors can engage in voluntary sustainability efforts through company policies and standards or by participating in coordinated sustainability initiatives.
Private standards on responsible mining
Private-sector efforts to reduce mining-related deforestation impacts are still in their infancy. The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is in the process of developing a Standard for Responsible Mining. The Standard aims to promote four overarching principles, one of which is Environmental Responsibility – a general principle without direct reference to deforestation. IRMA is planning to pilot certification for responsible mining operations in 2017. Similarly, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) has developed the “Fairmined Standard for Gold and Associated Precious Metals” to support the sustainable development of artisanal and small-scale mining communities.(18) However, ARM only certifies small-scale mining organizations. The standard includes requirements for the legality of mining operations, environmental protection, labor conditions, traceability and socio-economic development.(19)
DATA DEVELOPMENTS AND GAPS
Data on impact and progress on mining and infrastructure are still unavailable but monitoring initiatives by several think tanks are expected to release new tools and information to provide quantitative and global mapped data. We are also discussing with partners whether risks associated with mining could be integrated into existing sustainability initiatives, e.g. CDP’s efforts to measure and disclose environmental information from companies and jurisdictions could be expanded to mining and infrastructure.
Data Development #1. Trase
In 2016, the Stockholm Environmental Institute and the Global Canopy Programme established the Trase initiative, which links commodity trade data to deforestation and other environmental impacts. The initiative could also shed further light on the link between economic activities and deforestation.(14)
Data Development #2. New estimates of deforestation impact from mining and large dams
Several initiatives have recently quantified the impact of mining and hydropower, providing valuable insight to stakeholders.
- A study from the University of Puerto Rico released in 2015 highlights the link between gold mining and extensive deforestation, especially in the most biodiverse parts of tropical rainforests in South America.(20) The authors’ results suggest that between 2001 and 2013, nearly 168,000 hectares of tropical forests were lost due to gold mining. Moreover, 89% of this forest loss occurred in just four eco-regions,ix where mining activities increased substantially before and after the global economic downturn, often in close proximity to conservation
- An initiative by the NGO Fern, www.coalforest.org, provides updated information that links geo-spatial data on mining concessions and deforestation threat for several hotspot countries.(21) The initiative estimates that in Indonesia, India, Colombia and DRC, coal mining alone is threatening a combined forest area of close to 8.9 million hectares. It will be expanded to other countries as new information becomes available.
- Greenpeace recently published a report that quantifies the massive deforestation risks associated to plans of the Brazilian government to expand hydropower and industrial waterways for soy transportation.(22)