Products linked to deforestation, including beef, wood, palm oil, soy, coffee and cocoa, will be banned from entering the EU follow landmark legal proposals announced by the EU executive this week.

The EU executive outlined a draft law requiring companies to prove that agricultural commodities destined for the EU were not linked to deforestation. This comes two weeks after world leaders signed a plan to reverse deforestation at this year’s COP26 summit.

Green groups and environmentalists have welcomed the plans as an important step in tackling this prolific issue, although the fact that rubber is not covered by the proposals has been criticised.

In the last 60 years more than half of the world’s tropical forests have been destroyed – mainly as a result of agriculture which is responsible for almost 80% of all deforestation.

The EU rules are similar to rules included within the Environment Act 2021, which received Royal Assent in the UK last week. These are important rules for forest protection – and it’s nice to see the UK taking the lead. The demand for certain commodities encourages deforestation and COP26 made it clear that the world needs to cut emissions to hit zero, but also to protect nature.

The commodities which will be subject to laws in the UK will be set out in secondary legislations, yet to be published. Government consultations referred to beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, timber, rubber and soya, so it will be interesting to see if the UK takes a similar approach to the EU with respect to rubber or whether it keeps that commodity on the list.