Impact of European Union
Consumption on Deforestation

The project studied the impact of EU European trade and consumption patterns on deforestation in distant exporting countries.

2012 iStockphoto LP

2012 iStockphoto LP


The project analyzed the impacts of EU consumption of both primary and manufactured goods on deforestation in third countries, and proposed policies for reducing those impacts.

The growing competition for resources between developed and emerging economies, influences access to and distribution of natural resources. As the EU is a major importer of food and non-food commodities from third countries, including those with significant deforestation rates, its consumption patterns may influence global environments by contributing to the increasing trade in commodities from the land-intensive agricultural and forestry sectors. 

IIASA Research

IIASA’s LANDFLOW model, a powerful tool for estimating how many hectares of land are directly or indirectly associated with different consumption patterns, was extended to analyze the impact of EU consumption of imported food and non-food commodities on global deforestation. The estimates of deforestation in each country included in the model were attributed to human activities, including:

  • Agricultural expansion into previously forested areas (separate for crop and livestock sector)
  • Industrial roundwood extraction prior to agricultural expansion
  • Expansion of urban areas and infrastructure

In addition natural hazards as causes of deforestation (such as wild fires) were estimated. Where none of these factors were able to explain deforestation, data were tagged as ”unexplained.” 

LANDFLOW tracked “total land” and “deforested land” embodied in agricultural and forestry products from primary production in the country of origin to final utilization based on the large harmonized time series databases of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The model accounted for intermediate and joint products along the agricultural and forestry processing chain and recorded cross-country flows of primary and secondary commodities.

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Last edited: 24 July 2012


Günther Fischer

Senior Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 292

Eva Tothne Hizsnyik

Guest Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 447

Sylvia Tramberend

Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 401


01.12.2010 - 31.08.2012



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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