Palm oil, along with other soft commodities such as soy, timber, and beef, is a key driver of tropical forest degradation and loss. Deforestation of carbon-rich peatlands releases large quantities of greenhouse gases and is a significant contributor to the climate crisis. The loss and fragmentation of tropical forest habitats, one of the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems, threatens the myriad species they contain.

Companies have increasingly been adopting zero-deforestation commitments over the last decade, through both their own sustainability policies and wider initiatives such as the Consumer Goods Forum and the New York Declaration on Forests. But despite an upsurge in zero-deforestation commitments, they are still far from being realised.

This new Thematic Guide from ZSL, the first in a new series, provides an overview of the importance of zero-deforestation policies for palm oil companies and buyers of products containing palm oil derivatives.

It also provides recommendations for creating a robust and credible policy, including time-bound commitments, defining the criteria or types of forest that are not to be deforested, and a commitment to restore any degraded ecosystems to their prior condition.

Future Thematic Guides will cover traceability and supplier engagement.