Could your Italian leather shoes be to blame for deforestation in the Amazon? The answer is yes.

A new report by Fern, a Brussels-based NGO focused on forest policy, found that Europe is a leading importer of products stemming from illegal deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil. The report, “Stolen Goods: the EU’s Complicity in Illegal Tropical Deforestation,” found that stretches of forest the size of a football (soccer) field were illegally cleared every 120 seconds between 2000 and 2012 to supply consumers in Europe with palm oil, beef, soy and leather.

It found that five countries in particular—the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy—were responsible for much of this clearing, and that each one of these countries had impacts through particular commodities.

·         Italy imported EUR 1 billion in illegal deforestation commodities, including leather, making it the largest EU consumer of illegal deforestation goods.
·         The Netherlands and Germany are the largest importers of palm oil, which goes into cosmetics and food products lining grocery stores shelves.
·         The UK is a particularly important destination for beef from illegal deforestation.
·         France is the highest importer of soy, most of which is used to feed chickens and pigs bred for meat.

As a whole, the study found, the European Union imports 25 percent of all soy, 18 percent of all palm oil, 15 percent of all beef and 31 percent of all leather in international trade stemming from illegal tropical forest destruction.

The research will be the topic of discussion at an event hosted by Fern on March 30 in Brussels.

To read more, check out the following articles:

The EU’s ‘stolen goods’ – Devex

Ue ‘complice’ della deforestazione illegale – ANSA (Italy)