Mapping our way to zero deforestation

CC license by Okko Pyykkö/Flickr

In the three years since we pledged that our products would not be associated with deforestation, we have made good progress in developing guidelines and commitments to ensure we source raw materials responsibly.

Today, along with the non-governmental organization Conservation International, we are launching something new – the Deforestation Guides for Commodity Sourcing that use data from satellites to "track" and illustrate the areas at greatest risk of deforestation that we can use to help reduce that risk.

Working collectively

My job at Nestlé is to engage and work with external stakeholders on sustainability topics to ensure that we have the best knowledge and understanding to help our operational teams across the world.

One particular area where we need that help is to ensure we are able to meet our pledge of zero deforestation.

The new guides that Nestlé has developed in partnership with Conservation International will help us to measure and to demonstrate our progress towards that goal.

They will make it easier for us to see where deforestation is happening.

And for you to see too. Our aim, with our partner, is to be transparent. The maps are available for the public, for our competitors, for others in our supply chain to use.

Zero deforestation

We also have been working with our partners The Forest Trust and ProForest to help combat deforestation by mapping our supply chains on the ground since 2010.

We have learned a great deal on a wide range of countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia. We are working proactively with our suppliers such as plantation owners and farmers to build traceability along supply chains, and then using this knowledge to carry out field assessments.

While there is reasonably good data on countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, places like Ethiopia, Honduras and Papua New Guinea were off the beaten track and it was difficult to track accurate data.

The new guides can now help us to do this.

Preventing deforestation

We are using the guides alongside the mapping of our supply chains to highlight where our acquisition of raw materials runs the risk of contributing to deforestation.

If we find risk in an area, we will focus our auditing work together with our suppliers, and if necessary, take steps to stop the growing problem.


Globally, deforestation is increasing at a rate of nearly 13 million hectares per year – an area the size of Greece.

I believe the new maps can and should change the way companies, governments and civil society view the problem.

Our industry can do so much in our supply chains and by making a concerted effort to address the issue.

The guides support our commitment as a member of the Consumer Goods Forum to help eliminate deforestation.

The more that businesses, governments and other organizations use these maps, the better and more accurate the data will be, as greater volumes of information will be shared.

Farm to fork

This new approach to mapping deforestation should help us to better track our supply chain from farm to fork.

It not only demonstrates to our consumers that we are committed to improving the way we work, but also that we are making tools publicly available to others to encourage them to do the same.

Reprinted by permission from Nestlé Insight. Logs image by the goatman via Shutterstock.