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The Uncovered will be released across a series of bulletins. It provides a snapshot of how effectively exposed companies in Australia are addressing the risk of deforestation in their supply chains. 

You can read the Deforestation Benchmark Overview for details of the purpose of the assessment, the impact the production of these commodities is having on forests in Australia, and the benchmarking methodology.

Some common questions are listed below.

What is the Uncovered Corporate Deforestation Benchmark?

The Uncovered reveals how a selected set of exposed companies are addressing deforestation risk in their supply chains in Australia. The focus of The Uncovered is on the Australian supply chains for the following commodities that are connected to deforestation risk: timber, pulp and paper, beef and leather, as well as bauxite for aluminium. The results are a snapshot of the way influential companies operating in these key supply chains in Australia are currently addressing their deforestation risk, based on publicly available information known and available at the date stated in each publication and based on the opinion of The Wilderness Society, and how they compare against international best practice.

Why should companies help end deforestation?

Australia is a global deforestation and extinction hotspot. Australian laws and regulations have so far failed to prevent deforestation. Therefore, The Wilderness Society believes that companies operating in the sectors which drive deforestation have a responsibility to help prevent it. There is great potential for companies operating in Australia to meet the challenge of protecting forests. While eliminating deforestation from supply chains comes with complexity, for many sectors, the solutions are within reach. The world is moving away from deforestation and these companies need to demonstrate that they are not implicated in deforestation in Australia.

Why does the Corporate Deforestation Benchmark focus on supply chains in Australia only?

Australia is the only ‘developed’ country on the list of global deforestation hotspots. Yet there has been, so far, limited scrutiny over the quantity and quality of corporate commitments on deforestation. Global initiatives and scorecards often focus on tropical forests, leaving Australia aside. That’s what makes The Uncovered a world first: for the first time, international best practice indicators from initiatives like Forest 500 and the Climate Disclosure Project have been adapted to the Australian context to reveal how well influential companies operating in key supply chains in Australia are addressing deforestation risk.

Why are some companies assessed in the Corporate Deforestation Benchmark even though they are not doing anything illegal?

In Australia, due to poor laws and a lack of enforcement, legality is currently not a sufficient assurance of the absence of deforestation risk. Therefore, The Wilderness Society believes that companies operating in Australia (and especially within the most exposed sectors) have a responsibility to set best practice commitments, and implement them through ongoing verification of their supply chains, while maintaining transparency on their progress towards deforestation-free supply chains.

How were the companies selected? Are the companies assessed directly linked to deforestation?

The Corporate Deforestation Benchmark assesses a set of companies that are publishes as being involved in the production, processing, distribution and retailing of key commodities that drive deforestation in Australia: beef and leather, pulp and paper, timber and bauxite. The companies included in the assessment either have significant market shares within supply chains of one or more of these commodities, or are known or suspected to be associated with deforestation in Australia. Wilderness Society assessed companies that are known to source the above commodities within Australia, and therefore that have exposure to deforestation risk. The Wilderness Society believes that these companies need to ensure and demonstrate that they are not implicated in deforestation in Australia through best practice, transparent commitments and policies. The results of the benchmark reflect companies’ publicly available commitments and policies on deforestation as at the date stated in the relevant publication, and how that compares to international best practice.

What if companies have commitments and policies but these are not public?

The Corporate Deforestation Benchmark has been developed using only publicly available information: this means published on the companies’ websites at the time of the assessment (between April and August 2023), as well as reliable sources like Carbon Disclosure Project submissions and certification schemes websites. Using publicly available information is key because transparency is essential in deforestation-free corporate action. Transparency is key to help avoid greenwashing, and to help ensure accountability for stakeholders in supply chains, and externally, who are concerned about an entity’s efforts on deforestation. This may include consumers, business partners, regulators and broader civil society. The Wilderness invited each company to produce further information, if any, that was not publicly available. If any was received, it would have been included in the publication.

How was the methodology developed?

Based on a review of publicly available information, companies were scored against a series of indicators that underpin best practice for mitigating deforestation risk. The international best practice indicators draw on the work of Global Canopy; the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP); and the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi), and have been adapted to the Australian context in a world first. All assessed companies have been invited to add to the information used and received a score out of 100 points based on the best practice criteria. The results of the assessment shows what public commitments and plans influential companies have in place to remove Australian deforestation from their supply chains.

For more information about the methodology and definitions used, read the Deforestation Benchmark Overview.

Wilderness Society welcomes dialogue with companies about their deforestation policies in the context of its ongoing work on corporations' responsibility to address deforestation in Australia. Any queries  can be directed to [email protected].