The Norwegian government announced on May 26 that the country is now committing to zero deforestation.

The Scandinavian country pledged that it will no longer use and procure products that encourage loss of forestry. The decision is part of the recommendation of Action Plan on Nature Diversity by the country's Standing Committee on Energy and Environment. The committee asked the government to consider biodiversity protection with the funds provided by the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG). They also called on the creation of a separate biodiversity policy.

GPFG, the world's sovereign wealth fund, has climate change policies with deforestation as its main thrust. However, the fund does not have any specific policy for biodiversity protection.

The commitment is a victory for Rainforest Foundation Norway, which lobbied for the said pledge for several years.

"Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest ... It is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements," said Nils Hermann Ranum, who heads the Rainforest Foundation Norway policy and campaign.

Ranum is now calling on other countries, particularly Germany and the UK, to commit to zero deforestation as they have previously entered into a joint declaration at the UN Climate Summit in New York last September 2014. During the summit, the nations promised to support zero deforestation on a national level. The countries also committed to creating solid policies referring to sustainable procurement of soy, beef, palm oil and timber.

An earlier study has shown that from 2000 to 2011, about 40 percent of total tropical deforestation was due to wood, palm oil, soy and beef products from seven countries alone. These countries — Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea — have the worst deforestation rates and are also major sources of carbon emissions at 44 percent.

Support For Zero Deforestation

Norway has made history in being the first country to make such pledge, but the government is not new to protecting forests worldwide. Norway's support for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Tanzania and Brazil has reached as much as $214 million.

The country has earlier committed $250 million for the preservation of Guyana's forests. The Norwegian government is also paying $150 million to Liberia to prohibit deforestation.

India, in an attempt to preserve much of its forests, is planning to spend about $6.2 billion to create more forests.

Photo: Stiller Beobachter | Flickr

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