World Resource Institute

Forest Footprint for Cities

Deforestation is a major threat to sustainable cities, now and in the future.

The Forest Footprint will help cities clearly understand and reduce the tropical deforestation for which they are responsible. Deforestation driven by the consumption of everyday commodities like soy, beef, rubber and palm oil is a major contributor to climate change. Tropical deforestation is leading to a biodiversity crisis, shifting rain patterns and socioeconomic breakdowns, which severely impact cities even when these forests are far away.

Now that cities are increasing their focus on climate emissions, climate planning and carbon accounting must incorporate the footprint of forest-risk commodities consumed by cities. The Forest Footprint is designed to help cities get ahead of this problem while there’s still time to act. The Forest Footprint will provide cities with:

  • Their total deforestation impact and resulting carbon emissions.
  • The most significant drivers of commodity-driven deforestation from their city.
  • Guidance for mitigating or reversing of these impacts through policy change and resident engagement (coming soon).

Click to Explore the Dashboard

Using the Forest Footprint

Which has a greater forest footprint for Jakarta: beef or soy? 

What carbon savings could Detroit find if it shifted its rubber consumption to deforestation-free sourcing? 

What is the cost to biodiversity of Brussels’ coffee consumption? 

The Forest Footprint will aggregate and synthesize data on a city’s consumption of forest-risk commodities and multiply this data by the deforestation impact of these commodities, informed by the latest peer-reviewed research in the field. These results are presented in an accessible dashboard so that city representatives can see their total footprint for a given year, a resident profile that shows what an average city resident consumes on a yearly basis and the commodity breakdown of the city’s Forest Footprint. The dashboard control panel allows city representatives to adjust the quantity and the impact factor for each commodity to explore how new policies might reduce their footprint in the future. Real-time climate and biodiversity indices will give these forecasts tangible impact for policy-makers.

We will be footprinting 10 Cities4Forests cities in 2020-2021.


Contact Scott Francisco from Pilot Projects to involve your city!

Co-development with Global Leaders in Quito & Mexico City

In January 2020, the Forest Footprint prototype was tested with capital cities Quito and Mexico City. Both cities contributed to rigorous Forest Footprint analyses which helped further refine the tool. We are continuing to work with Cities4Forests member cities to create ways that this tool can reduce — and eventually reverse — the devastating impacts on remaining tropical forests, climate and biodiversity. Following the positive receptions of these two leading cities, Cities4Forests is looking to expand our network of cities footprinted in the coming years.