The EU is aiming to limit the consumption of products that are contributing to deforestation or forest degradation.

The European Council, this week, agreed to set “mandatory due diligence rules” for all operators and traders who place, make available, or export palm oil, beef, timber, coffee, cocoa and soy.

The main driver of global deforestation and forest degradation is the expansion of agricultural land, which is linked to the production of such products.

The rules also apply to a number of derived products such as leather, chocolate, and furniture.

A benchmarking system will assign a level of risk to deforestation – low, standard, or high.

In the 30 years between 1990 and 2020, 420 million hectares of forestry – larger than the combined area of all EU member states – were cut down, globally.

The risk category will determine the level of obligation on operators and member states’ authorities to carry out inspections and controls.

This will lead to enhanced monitoring for high-risk countries, according to the EU.

French minister for energy transition, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, said we must ensure that the products we consume at home do not contribute to depleting the planet’s forest reserves.

The Council’s new rules will make it possible to combat deforestation, within the European Union but also outside of it.

“This is a major step forward, which also illustrates our ambition for the climate and for biodiversity,” the French minister said.