Norway has become the first country in the world to ban deforestation. The Norwegian Parliament pledged that the government’s public procurement policy will be deforestation-free.

Any product that contributes to deforestation will not be used in the Scandinavian country. The pledge was recommended by Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Energy and Environment as part of the Action Plan on Nature Diversity.

Rain Forest Foundation Norway was the main lobbying power behind this recommendation and has worked for years to bring the pledge to existence.

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. Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments.

Norway’s action plan also includes a request from parliament that the government exercise due care for the protection of biodiversity in its investments through Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global.

Germany and the UK joined Norway in pledging at the 2014 UN Climate Summit to “promote national commitments that encourage deforestation-free supply chains,” through public procurement policies and to sustainably source products like palm oil, soy, beef and timber.

Beef, palm oil, soy and wood products in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea were responsible for 40% of deforestation between 2000 and 2011.

Those seven countries were also responsible for 44% of carbon emissions. The Norwegian government announced a $250 million commitment to protect Guyana’s forest.

Norway’s recent pledge is yet another step the country has taken to combat deforestation. The Scandinavian country funds several projects worldwide. The South American country, which has its forests zoned for logging, received the money over a four-year period from 2011 to 2015.

In 2015, Norway paid $1 billion to Brazil, home to 60% of the Amazon forest, for completing a 2008 agreement between the two countries to prevent deforestation. The Amazon has lost around 17% of its trees in the last 50 years.

National Geographic reported, Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon decreased more than 75% over the last decade, representing the single biggest emissions cut in that time period. The deal helped save more than 33,000 square miles of rain forest from clear-cutting.

Liberia, with the help of Norway, became the first nation in Africa to stop cutting down trees in return for aid, the BBC reported. The deal involves Norway paying the West African country $150 million through 2020 to stop deforestation.

Liberia is home to 43% of the Upper Guinean forest and the last populations of western chimpanzees, forest elephants and leopards. The country agreed to place 30% or more of its forests under protection by 2020.

Forests cover 31% of the land on Earth. They are the planet’s figurative lungs, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Forests also provide homes to people and much of the world’s wildlife.

Around 46,000 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost each year—a rate equal to 48 football fields every minute. Deforestation is estimated to contribute around 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only does deforestation contribute to climate change, it can also disrupt livelihoods and natural cycles, the World Wildlife Fund said. Removal of trees can disrupt the water cycle of the region, resulting in changes in precipitation and river flow, and contribute to erosion.

Eco Watch / Crickey Conservation Society 2018.

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