What is the Forest 500?

Why is Forest 500 important?  – Governments and companies endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014, calling for an end to commodity-driven deforestation by 2020. But the 2020 target date was missed, and deforestation continues to be driven by commodity production. We need to end tropical deforestation to tackle the climate, nature and biodiversity crises, and meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement, the Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and the Global Biodiversity Framework. But many of the companies and financial institutions with the greatest influence on deforestation are still not doing enough to eliminate deforestation, conversion of natural ecosystems and the associated human rights abuses. Forest 500 holds them accountable through annual assessments of the strength and implementation of their commitments on deforestation, conversion, and associated human rights abuses.

Why do you only include six commodities in your assessments?  – While palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber and pulp & paper are not the only commodities that cause deforestation and land conversion, they have been the key drivers in recent years, representing up to two-thirds of tropical deforestation. We may consider adding other commodities in the future years.

How do you define deforestation and conversion?  – Forest 500 uses the definitions of deforestation (including zero-net and zero-gross deforestation) and conversion (including zero-net and zero-gross conversion) as defined by the Accountability Framework Initiative. While deforestation specifically refers to the loss of natural forests, conversion extends to any change from a natural ecosystem to any other land use. The full definitions used can be found on the  Accountability Framework Initiative website.

What is a Forest 500 ‘powerbroker’? – The 350 companies included in the Forest 500 are described as ‘powerbrokers’ because they have been identified as the companies with the greatest influence on tropical deforestation through their production or use of at least one of the key forest risk commodities (beef, leather, palm oil, pulp and paper, soy, and timber). Companies are selected as powerbrokers based on their exposure to those commodities, which is identified using a variety of metrics. You can read more about our selection process below.

Companies that are powerbrokers for one commodity can also produce or use other forest-risk commodities. If their exposure is not sufficient to be a powerbroker they are still assessed for the additional commodity under the Forest 500 methodology, but the scores are weighted lower for the ‘non-powerbroker’ commodity to reflect their reduced influence in that supply chain. The 150 financial institution ‘powerbrokers’ are the key lenders, investors and other financial institutions which provide the most finance, through shareholdings, loans and underwritings, and bondholdings to the 350 powerbroker companies.

Who funds the Forest 500? – The Forest 500 has been funded by UK aid from the UK government; however the views expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

The assessment no longer includes jurisdictions. Why not?  – Previous Forest 500 assessments (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) have ranked key jurisdictions on their deforestation policies. Since 2018, assessments have focused on company and financial institution performance, rather than jurisdictions. Jurisdictions are still included in the selection process; key producing and trading jurisdictions are identified in order to guide the company and therefore financial institution selection.

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How is the Forest 500 selected?

How is the Forest 500 selected? -How is the Forest 500 selected? – The 350 companies selected are the largest companies throughout palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber or paper supply chains. Forest 500 selection covers the whole supply chains for these commodities, from producers to retailers. The 150 financial institutions are those that provided the most finance through shares, loans or bonds to those 350 companies. Our full selection methodology is available to download.

Have the companies identified been directly linked to causing deforestation? – The companies and investors included in the Forest 500 have significant influence over the production and processing of the commodities that drive deforestation through their supply chains and financing activities. Through those activities they are at significant risk of driving deforestation, conversion of natural ecosystems and the associated human rights abuses, and need to set and implement policies to prevent this from happening.

Will the financial institutions and companies included in the Forest 500 change over time? – The Forest 500 have been identified using a methodology that takes into consideration issues such as company size, their links to commodity supply chains, and market shares within each industry sector. The selection is reviewed every two years in order to ensure the most relevant actors continue to be assessed, with some small changes made annually due to companies merging or going bankrupt. The latest selection of companies and financial institutions was completed in 2022.

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How is the Forest 500 assessed?

What is assessed? – The Forest 500 assessment looks at whether the most influential companies and financial institutions in forest-risk supply chains (palm oil, soy, beef, leather, timber, pulp and paper) are addressing deforestation, conversion of natural ecosystems and associated human rights abuses risks through their policy commitments, and what they say they are doing to implement these commitments. This means the companies and financial institutions can be held to account against their commitments, and can benchmark their own performance against competitors. The Forest 500 assessment only considers publicly available information published by the companies or financial institutions on their websites.

What if the companies and financial institutions have commitments but don’t publish them on their websites? – We believe that it is crucial that commitments and policies are made available online so that all stakeholders can assess their robustness and hold powerbrokers accountable for their commitments and influence.

Are companies in different supply chain segments assessed differently? – In 2020, the Forest 500 company assessment methodology was fully aligned with the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi). As part of this alignment, several indicators within the ‘Reporting and Implementation’ section of the assessment methodology apply specifically to either upstream or downstream companies. Upstream companies are defined as producers and processors, while downstream companies are defined as traders, manufacturers, and retailers. Companies which are classed as both upstream and downstream for the same commodity are assessed on all nine indicators, which are weighted equally between upstream and downstream.

Have you assessed the companies and financial institutions in the languages they operate in? – Yes, wherever possible powerbrokers have been assessed in the key languages they communicate in, as well as in English. In particular languages included Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malay, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

How objective is the selection methodology? – The methodology that was used to identify the Forest 500 can be downloaded. We believe that this represents the current best efforts to identify the key powerbrokers. Nevertheless, given the lack of reporting in some sectors and the significant lack of data available, it is not possible to guarantee the accuracy of all information contained on this site.

Will the assessment methodologies be reviewed to reflect policy developments? – The Forest 500 assessment methodologies for companies and financial institutions are reviewed and updated annually to ensure they continue to align with best practice for the sector. In 2020 the company assessment methodology was tightened and fully aligned with the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi).This sets out a common framework for companies seeking to address deforestation, conversion, and associated human rights in their supply chains, and outlines the best practice for companies operating in forest-risk supply chains. In 2022, the Forest 500 financial institution methodology was aligned with the Finance Sector Roadmap published in 2021, and thus in alignment with the Accountability Framework Initiative’s Common Methodology.

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What Forest 500 data is available?

Do you release the detailed scoring?  – The full assessment methodologies are available online, and all scores (out of 100) are available to view on each company or financial institution profile or via the rankings page. You can also download the full datasets.

Is the data available to download? – The entire Forest 500 dataset can be downloaded from our website. You can download our company and financial institution assessment data here, along with our country selection data.

How can the Forest 500 data be used? – The Forest 500 data can be used in a variety of different ways, from conducting analyses and identifying trends, to informing risk assessments and engagement processes with clients/suppliers. A list of potential uses of Forest 500 data can be found on our site.

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How can I get in touch with Forest 500?

How can I get in touch if I have questions on an assessment of a company or financial institution? -If you have any questions on specific assessments or our methodologies in general please email the Forest 500 team at: [email protected]

How can I get in touch with a press enquiry? -If you have a press enquiry, please reach out to our Communications team:

Tel: +44 (0)1865 724333

Email: [email protected]

How can I get in touch with feedback? -If you have any feedback or for any other information please reach out to us via our contact form which you can access here.

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