Commodity-driven deforestation is a major driver of forest loss worldwide, and globalisation has increased the disconnect between producer and consumer countries. Due-diligence legislation aims to improve supply chain sustainability and already covers major forest-risk commodities. However, the evidence base for specific commodities needs assessing to ensure effective reduction of embedded deforestation.

This paper focuses on UK imports and aims to assess the evidence base for commodities included in the UK due diligence legislation. The authors conducted a rapid evidence synthesis to assess the literature and identify commodities with the highest deforestation risk linked to UK imports. Literature from three databases, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus, was assessed. They developed a review protocol to minimize bias and conducted critical appraisal of underlying data and methods in studies in order to assess the uncertainties around results.

From a total of 318 results, 17 studies were included in the final synthesis. These studies used various methodologies and input data, yet there is broad alignment on commodities, confirming that those included in due diligence legislation have a high deforestation risk. Soy, palm oil, and beef were identified as critical, with their production being concentrated in just a few global locations. However, there are also emerging commodities, such as coffee, sugar and other spices, that have a high deforestation risk but are not included in legislation.

This suggests that UK due diligence legislation needs to be strengthened. Other policy recommendations include incentives for the uptake of policies and wider stakeholder engagement. The authors also recommend continual review of commodities included in the due diligence legislation, to ensure a reduction in the UK’s overseas deforestation footprint.

Note: this paper is currently inversion 1; peer review: awaiting peer review.