Breaking the link between agriculture and forest loss

Science and advocacy for zero-deforestation commitments.


National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

This project will focus on leveraging international and key domestic supply chains and financial institutions to persuade agricultural producers across the tropics to adopt and implement zero deforestation policies, assess the impacts of these on deforestation, and support government reforms to deliver enduring reductions in deforestation, improve governance systems, and uphold the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.


Commodity agriculture is the leading driver of tropical forest loss. Over the past several years, new efforts have aimed at reducing deforestation driven by the expansion of commercial agriculture in the tropics. Despite progress toward this goal, significant challenges remain to fully realise an agricultural revolution that permanently breaks the link between palm oil, cattle, and soy expansion and the loss of tropical forests.

One of the most significant concerns is that while many of the world’s largest traders, retailers and brands have adopted zero deforestation policies, implementation has been slow and the lack of transparency about implementation makes it difficult to independently assess impacts.

In addition, successful efforts to address deforestation, such as the soy and cattle moratoria in the Brazilian Amazon, are limited in geographic scope, while clearance of highly biodiverse ecosystems, such as the Brazilian Cerrado and the Amazon outside of Brazil, continues largely unabated.


Science and advocacy to secure and implement lasting zero deforestation commitments. Building on recent achievements, nd a consortium of expert partners will strengthen, expand geographically, and accelerate implementation of zero deforestation commitments by companies and producers.

The goal of this project is to break the link between the production of agricultural commodities (soy, palm oil, and cattle) and tropical deforestation in Brazil, Indonesia, Colombia and Peru.

They will utilise the best available science and latest technologies in satellite land-use monitoring to support advocacy and outreach activities that: leverage key companies, public-facing brands, and other important supply chain actors to develop robust commitments; implement effective practices that support zero deforestation soy, palm oil, and cattle production in these target geographies; and foster alignment with government efforts to protect forests.

This theory of change is built on years of experience and research, which has clearly demonstrated the success of targeted and coordinated public-private initiatives to eliminate deforestation driven by the expansion of commercial agriculture.

Expected results

Implementation of zero deforestation commitments breaks the link between commodity agriculture and forest loss, setting agribusiness on a sustainable path of development. NWF and its partners expect this project to produce several significant results, including a substantial increase in the number of companies that have adopted and implemented zero deforestation commitments.

These commitments would include provisions on human rights and respect for indigenous territories, considerable reductions in the rates of deforestation in the target geographies, advancements in supply chain monitoring, traceability and transparency, as well as charting a new course for commercial agriculture – one that emphasizes forest conservation, sustainable development and yield enhancement.

Full implementation of reductions in deforestation will result in lasting emissions reductions that will continue beyond the length of this project, once zero deforestation policies have been implemented.


Amigos da Terra-Amazônia Brasileira, Climate Advisers, Proyección Eco Social Foundation, Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo, Union of Concerned Scientists, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Waxman Strategies.


About the project descriptions

The project descriptions give insight in the NICFI portfolio for civil society organisations supported by Norad. 

The descriptions presented are written by the project partners. Only minor edits have been undertaken by Norad. Their presentations and conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of Norad.

Published 12.06.2016
Last updated 13.06.2016