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Article United Kingdom: Government Takes Measures to Prevent Deforestation of World's Forests

The government of the United Kingdom (U.K.) announced on December 9, 2023, that it was going to introduce regulations to help reduce deforestation in the world’s forests that is caused by the use of consumer goods in the U.K. The Forest Risk Commodities Scheme (the plan), made under schedule 17 of the Environment Act 2021, aims to help protect the habitats of endangered species and provide assurance to British shoppers that products they are purchasing do not contribute to illegal deforestation.

The Environment Act provides the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs with the power to specify “forest risk commodities” in regulations. Schedule 17 of the act defines “forest risk commodity” as a commodity produced from a plant, animal, or living organism in a forest that is being converted, or may be converted, to agricultural use. Once a commodity has been designated as a forest risk commodity, it or products derived from it may not be used by a business in their U.K. commercial activities unless the laws of the country where the commodity was produced have been complied with.

The plan will introduce a requirement that businesses with a global turnover of 50 million pounds sterling (approximately US$63 million) that use nondairy cattle products, such as beef and leather, cocoa, palm, and soy commodities in their commercial activities in the U.K., establish and implement a system of due diligence to ensure that any regulated commodity and products derived from these commodities were not produced on land that was illegally occupied or used. A due diligence system in relation to a forest risk commodity, as defined in schedule 17 of the Environment Act, means:

(a) identifying, and obtaining information about, that commodity,
(b) assessing the risk that relevant local laws were not complied with in relation to that commodity, and
(c) mitigating that risk.

The due diligence system to ensure that these commodities are not produced on illegally occupied or used land must be undertaken annually, and reported and published publicly online. An exemption may be sought for organizations whose use of the regulated commodities does not exceed an annual volume threshold of 500 tonnes (metric tons, equal to 500,000 kilograms or 1,102,300 pounds).

The regulations may provide for civil sanctions, such as a fixed monetary penalty, stop notices, or enforcement undertakings provided for under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008, along with criminal offenses that may be punishable with a fine if the business fails to comply with any civil sanctions, or if it obstructs or fails to assist an enforcement authority about the offenses.

Regulations will be introduced to place this plan on a statutory basis when parliamentary time allows.

Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
February 16, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. United Kingdom: Government Takes Measures to Prevent Deforestation of World's Forests. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-15/united-kingdom-government-takes-measures-to-prevent-deforestation-of-worlds-forests/.

APA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, C. (2024) United Kingdom: Government Takes Measures to Prevent Deforestation of World's Forests. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-15/united-kingdom-government-takes-measures-to-prevent-deforestation-of-worlds-forests/.

MLA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. United Kingdom: Government Takes Measures to Prevent Deforestation of World's Forests. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-15/united-kingdom-government-takes-measures-to-prevent-deforestation-of-worlds-forests/>.