The Zero-Deforestation Hub provides timely information, news and resources on commodity-driven deforestation and international climate policy

Cattle (beef & leather)

Cattle ranching plays a major role in the economic, social, and environmental development of countries around the world. Beef production is an important part of sustainable food systems and can contribute to the effective management native ecosystems. At the same time, unsustainable cattle production practices have taken hold in several parts of the world.
In South America, unsustainable ranching practices have led to deforestation and land-use change. Growing demand for beef, leather, and other products is expected to continue to exert significant pressure on ecologically important regions in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia. Fortunately, there are opportunities for cattle ranching to be done in a more responsible and sustainable way.
NWF aims to promote incentives such as sustainability intensification, recovering degraded areas, and improving rural livelihoods. These, combined with robust public policies, strong market-based solutions, and effective transparency within supply chains, can minimize deforestation linked to cattle production in South America.



Soy is nutrient-dense, rich in protein and fast-growing, which has made it a key component in global food production and one of the most widely traded agricultural commodities in the world. Soy can be found in a wide range of food and non-food products, including tofu, margarine, salad dressing and edible oils as well as cosmetics, soaps, and transport fuels. While there are many different uses, the majority of the world’s soy is used as livestock feed for poultry, swine, and cattle.
Over the past several decades, soy production has expanded rapidly across South America. This expansion has driven large scale deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado biomes as well as the Gran Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay. Demand for soy and soy-based products is expected to continue to grow, especially as rising incomes in developing countries leads to increased consumption. This will likely further increase pressures on forests in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and elsewhere. NWF is working with partners across South America to incorporate multisectoral approaches for achieving sustainable and deforestation-free soy supply chains, and have developed a set of recommendations for key actors in the soy sector, including producer country governments, soy farmers/producers, financial institutions, investors, and consumers.


Palm oil – the vegetable oil pressed from the fruit and seeds of the oil palm – is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil. It is used as cooking oil throughout the tropics, but also commonly found in packaged foods, cosmetics, and detergents. About 85% of global production occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia, where oil palm plantations have largely come at the expense of forests and peatlands, but production is also increasing in Africa and Latin America.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the leading sustainability certification for palm oil, covering almost 19% of global palm oil production. However, prior to the 2018 adoption of the revised Principles and Criteria, it was heavily criticized for failing to prevent deforestation and human rights/labor abuses. In late 2017, NWF, NASA and academic partners published the first peer-reviewed assessment of RSPO certification’s impact on deforestation and fire, and in 2018, the RSPO adopted the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) methodology – a major success in transforming the RSPO into a true no-deforestation standard and bringing it into alignment with private sector market demands and REDD+ goals. NWF is a proud member of both the RSPO and the HCSA Steering Group, sitting on the No Deforestation Joint Steering Group and serving as Co-Chair of the HCSA’s High Forest Cover Landscapes working group. NWF also works with civil society partners in Peru and Colombia to support public-private partnerships for national zero-deforestation palm oil supply chains.


Cocoa, derived from the fruit of the tropical cacao tree, is widely known as the key ingredient in chocolate-making. Cocoa beans undergo various processes like fermentation and drying, and are typically sold to consumers in the form of cocoa powder, chocolate and cocoa butter.  Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the top cocoa-producing countries in the world (accounting for 60% of global production) followed by Indonesia, Colombia, and Brazil. Efforts to promote sustainability within the sector have been hampered by illicit farms within protected areas, and insufficient actions from major brands and retailers to exclude non-compliant producers from their supply chains.
The Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) has emerged as the leading international platform for deforestation-free cocoa supply chains. The initiative was launched in 2017 by the governments of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Colombia, as well as 35 cocoa and chocolate companies. Facilitated by the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, the initiative was established to set guidelines to stop further conversion of forest for cocoa production, and to restore previously deforested areas. NWF is working to align the due diligence requirements of chocolate companies, including on traceability and monitoring, to help facilitate CFI’s goals. In 2019, NWF was selected to advise the CFI and the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana on potential service providers for mapping and monitoring. Several demand countries – Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands – have established national platforms to transition their cocoa supply chains toward sustainable procurement, but still require additional guidance to ensure alignment between their objectives, policies, and requirements. NWF works to help these initiatives most effectively make use of existing ethical supply chain guidance from initiatives such as the Accountability Framework initiative and the High Carbon Stock Approach to transform the sustainability of cocoa value chains.

Natural Climate Solutions

Natural climate solutions (NCS) are strategies that support or enhance the ability of natural systems – like forests, wetlands, and grasslands – to both mitigate climate change (enhancing the removal or storage of carbon) and strategies that increase the resilience of human communities and wildlife populations to the impacts of climate-related natural hazards. The important role of natural ecosystems is enshrined both within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement – particularly activities that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The National Wildlife Federation and our partners have published a Guide to Including Nature in Nationally Determined Contributions, which provides guidance to countries on how they can enhance NDC ambition using Natural Climate Solutions in a manner that is consistent with guidance previously developed through the UNFCCC.

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