Deforestation is the cause of around one fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and poses a major threat to biodiversity through habitat loss.
Speaking at the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in Paris, Filipe Sabara, business director at Beraca, stated how gas emissions have changed, significantly in the last few years.
“In the last couple of years it [gas emissions] has been at its worst and since the nineties the amount of emissions has tripled,” he said.
Need to show value in standing forests
Sabara went on to state that in order to tackle the causes of deforestation, which are often related to economic pressures, forests have to be worth more to local people when they are standing than when cut down.
One of the ways this can be done is by sourcing cosmetics and fragrance ingredients from the forest in sustainable ways, as well as improving the understanding of the economic value of services ecosystems provide, such as food and sustenance, storing carbon and regulating water and air.
Sabara explained the process of extracting Copaiba resin, which is used in perfumes, by collecting the substance from the tree without cutting it down, as an example of one of Beraca’s sustainable rainforest projects.
Shift from price to source
When asked whether customers would be willing to pay more for ingredients and products that have been sustainably sourced, Sabara stated, there had been a big change in attitude in the last few years.
“In the past, people preferred the cheapest products, but as time has gone by, customers are more willing to pay for an ingredient that has been sustainably sourced.”
Black market wood
Another factor that can challenge sustainable sourcing efforts is the growing black market for wood, Sabara claimed.
Most of the world’s endangered forests grow in developing tropical and sub-tropical countries with the three main rainforest regions being the Amazon in South America, the Congo Basin in Africa, and the forests of Indonesia and the rest of South East Asia.
Communities in these regions have to weigh the cost of good forest management against the pull of economic growth and these pressures have been compounded by a growing black market trade in wood, he said.
Whilst the government is aware of the problem, Sabara says that in some cases these activities are legalized, making the ethical sourcing activities for companies such as Beraca, even more difficult.