Forests play a vital role not only in their own ecosystems but in the well-being of the entire planet largely through the process of photosynthesis whereby plants and trees in a forest take in a great deal of carbon dioxide during the process, thus reducing atmospheric CO2 levels and releasing oxygen in return. Even though we are well aware of the importance of plants and trees to our existence, that hasn’t stopped deforestation from occurring and being a major contributor to climate change.
Norway is looking to help address that problem, reports Forbes, by effectively “banning” deforestation. Obviously, they aren’t trying to prosecute culprits outside of their jurisdiction. Instead, they are putting in place regulations to ensure that goods coming into their country are not products of deforestation-related activities. Norway’s Standing Committee on Energy and Environment proposed the initiative.
Crops and products that will be most impacted by the decision include soy, timber, palm oil, and, beef, as they are some of the most common crops associated with widespread deforestation. It is estimated that such crops and products from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea, accounted for 40% of tropical deforestation and 44% of CO2 emissions during the period of 2000 to 2011. However, under Norway’s new regulations, none of these crops will be able to be imported, unless the provider can produce evidence of sustainable sourcing methods.
This new commitment is a result of the 2014 UN Climate Change Summit. There, the governments of Norway, Germany, and the UK jointly agreed to take actionable steps to encourage the sustainable production of “commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and timber”. Two years later, Norway has become the first country to introduce legislation designed to put their words into action.
Norway’s efforts may soon have some global financial implications. Biodiversity is expected to become a factor in investment decisions for Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
These efforts are not new in Norway as this Scandinavian country has promoted biodiversity in the past and it even went so far as giving the Brazilian government $1 billion to aid in the cessation of deforestation. The results were admirable— Brazil has saved over 30,000 square miles of rainforest and reduced deforestation rates by 75%.