Extracted forests – study on mining and deforestation

European Business & Biodiversity Campaign - News

Extracted forests – study on mining and deforestation

The new study "Extracted Forests" by WWF, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Satelligence and adelphi explored the extent to which mining activities affect global deforestation and what can be done to stop this development.

28 April 2023: Between 2011 and 2021, the global forest area decreased by 11%. The main drivers are agriculture, infrastructure, urban expansion and mining. At the same time, demand for minerals for consumer goods, infrastructure and technologies has doubled between 2000 and today. Internationally, China (18%), the EU (14%, with Germany as the largest importer of mining-related forest destruction) and the USA (12%) are among the biggest drivers of forest destruction. Among these, the construction industry sector has the highest share of mineral demand.

The study showed that almost 84% of direct mining-related deforestation worldwide occurs in just 10 countries (including Indonesia, Brazil and Russia), and that coal and gold mining is responsible for 71% of this deforestation. Furthermore, the indirect impacts of mining (new roads, settlements, energy infrastructure, ...) on deforestation can often be larger and more far-reaching than the direct impacts, but they are often overlooked in policy decisions.

Biodiversity is also at enormous risk from mining activities. Around 77% of all mines are located within 50 kilometres of areas with high biodiversity. Toxic substances and habitat displacement affect not only flora, but also terrestrial and aquatic organisms and humans.

Discrepancies at national, regional and local levels are significant, and the impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining are often difficult to assess and monitor. Demand for minerals in other countries and sectors is an important driving force behind mining-induced deforestation, and policy makers and the private sector can play an important role in avoiding and minimising deforestation.

Recommendations include investing in wide-ranging assessments and forest restoration, engaging affected populations as key stakeholders for forest protection, and promoting circular economy practices and a clean energy transition.
Read the study: https://www.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/Publikationen-PDF/Wald/WWF-Studie-Extracted-Forests.pdf

Author: GNF