Report: Deforestation Crisis on Their Watch


Australia is a global deforestation hotspot, driven primarily by the beef industry. About every two minutes, a large football field-sized area of forest and bushland is bulldozed, putting Australia alongside places like the Amazon, Congo and Borneo on the scale of destruction. This is killing tens of millions of native animals each year, including koalas, while harming the land, polluting rivers, making climate change worse and damaging the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia’s largest beef buyers – the retailing and processing companies – have the ability to fix this problem by ensuring their supply chains are conversion and deforestation-free (meaning no destruction of all natural ecosystems) by 2025. Doing so would demonstrate strong environmental leadership and align with major international corporate sustainability target-setting initiatives such as the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and Science-Based Targets for Nature (SBTN). With the European Union implementing a tough new deforestation-free export and import law this year, this would also align with key international markets.

In this report we assess how the commitments and implementation efforts of ten of Australia’s largest beef buyers stack up against a conversion and deforestation-free target by 2025. All of the companies assessed failed, with none scoring above 50%. While a small handful of companies had some form of deforestation-free commitment, none clearly articulated that their policy covers important regenerated forest. In addition, no companies were able to provide clear evidence of implementing their commitments. Crucially, this is due to a lack of full tracking of supply chains down to the property level where deforestation is occurring. Given deforestation has been a persistent issue in Australian beef supply chains for decades, this reflects very poorly on the environmental credentials of these companies.

The beef industry must address the destruction of forests and natural ecosystems happening on their watch. There must be no hiding behind greenwashing, minimalist targets and watered-down definitions. Instead the industry could and should be a leader in positive environmental change. This centres on setting a target and a clear implementation plan of conversion and deforestation-free by 2025, using global best-practice definitions set out by the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI).

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