What is a deforestation risk assessment and why does it matter?

What is a deforestation risk assessment and why does it matter?

Published February 29, 2024

2 minute read

The causes of deforestation are multiple and varied. The complex factors that impact deforestation can also be challenging to predict as they can range from political, institutional, environmental, economic, and cultural.

This is where deforestation risk maps are vital. They provide a simple and flexible tool to identify areas at high risk of deforestation, crucial for organisations who need to monitor their supply chains.

forest due diligence software

What is a deforestation map?

A deforestation map is also known as deforestation risk mapping. It is based on identifying and mapping drivers of deforestation within an impact area by modelling deforestation factors.

Risk maps don’t attempt to predict the absolute quantity or location of deforestation, instead they map the location where forest loss is most or least likely to occur.

A deforestation map recognises that the risk of loss doesn’t occur equally across an area. They do this by indicating different risk classes which indicate the amount of forest expected to be lost.

These maps should be adapted locally whenever possible to ensure that all region-specific drivers are accounted for, preferably using expert knowledge and local datasets. 

What else are deforestation risk assessments used for?

It’s clear that deforestation maps are crucial for gaining deeper insights of risk, but they also have several other important uses.

  • Inform project design – ensure that interventions are targeted at high-risk areas and at the correct scale

  • Monitor and evaluate projects – access the expected and actual impact of forest protection interventions to identify successes and failures using methods such as the Hectares Indicator

impact of deforestation

  • Comply or operate deforestation free supply chains – highlight locations of high risk within supply chain areas or farms to target resources

  • Forecast expected deforestation – across given regions which have remained at high risk for long periods

  • Estimate future carbon emissions – link to carbon density values

How accurate are deforestation maps? 

A simple accuracy assessment method can be easily applied to any deforestation risk map and for any specific area.

This accuracy assessment demonstrates if a map has a satisfactory range of accuracy for its application.

This method can be used globally and is easily applicable and repeatable. It can also be used to assess how well the probabilities of deforestation associated to each risk level apply and inform future improvements and updates of the map. 

How EcoOnline can help

When your forest supply chain spans the globe, ensuring it doesn’t contain any links to deforestation can be a challenge. Identifying potential links to illegal forest-risk commodities can be complex and carries a significant compliance and reputation risk.

That’s where EcoOnline’s powerful Forest Due Diligence software steps up. Our solution provides you with quick insights into environmental risks within your global supply chain. Say goodbye to the stressful and time-consuming admin and embrace a tool that has everything you need to make compliance a breeze. 

forest due diligence software

Author Dan Ryder

Dan is an experienced copywriter with a master's degree from the Manchester Writing School. He joined EcoOnline in November 2022. 

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