As more companies commit to reducing deforestation in their supply chains, a lack of integrated data monitoring can be a hurdle. The Global Forest Watch (GFW) Pro online geospatial management system helps businesses of all sizes eliminate deforestation by agricultural commodity suppliers in more than 90 countries by leveraging the power of satellites and big data.

The Challenge

About 40% of the annual loss of primary rainforest is associated with commodity production such as clearing forest to raise cattle and cultivate crops like soy and palm oil. In addition to affecting the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on forests, deforestation is among the largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions. Recognizing this problem, the Consumer Goods Forum, a group of 400 companies that drive demand for these commodities, committed to achieve zero net deforestation in their supply chains by 2020. Even as more companies recognize this imperative, progress has been slow because the labyrinth of intermediaries between farms, mills and consumer products makes measuring deforestation in supply chains difficult.

WRI’s Role

Global Forest Watch, led by WRI, has used near-real-time geospatial data to help users around the world to better manage forests since 2014. Building on this platform, WRI and more than 60 partners developed GFW Pro, a free online app that allows commodity producers and buyers to upload the location of their production and supply areas such as soy farms and palm oil concessions. Consumer goods companies, for example, can then receive such data from suppliers for any commodity anywhere to monitor for signs of forest clearing or fires. GFW Pro also enhances accountability by allowing companies to easily report and share progress on curbing deforestation and by empowering civil society and local enforcement agencies – about a third of the app’s users – to monitor for themselves.

The Outcome

Over 100 companies from more than 30 countries, including commodity and consumer goods giants like Cargill, Mondelēz, Olam, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, now use GFW Pro to better understand and reduce their impact on forest clearing. Actors at all levels of the supply chain – including those who buy from or finance farms, mills and processing facilities – are using consistent data and a common approach to help prioritize engagement with high-risk locations, adjust their sourcing, quantify progress toward zero-deforestation commitments, and show compliance with these commitments. WRI and partners will continue to enhance GFW Pro and promote its use, including by small- and medium-sized companies whose involvement is critical for success in reducing deforestation.