Major Brands and Banks Failing to Stop Deforestation and Human Rights Abuses, New Scorecard Finds

methodology FAQ


This project assesses the financial services received by over 300 companies directly involved in the beef, soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber and tropical timber (“forest-risk sector”) supply chains, whose operations may impact natural tropical forests in Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa, and Brazil.

Financial Databases Bloomberg, Refinitiv (formerly known as Thomson EIKON), TradeFinanceAnalytics, and IJGlobal), company reports (annual, interim, quarterly) and other company publications, company register filings, as well as media and analyst reports were used to identify corporate loans and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies for the period 2013-2020 (April). Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Refinitiv, Thomson EMAXX and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in April 2020.

The BNDES Transparency portal and Brazil’s Central Bank portal were used to identify additional financial flows to forest-risk companies in Brazil.


This research provides a deal-level dataset of specific relationships between selected companies and any linked financial institution. Of the more than 300 companies researched, only 230 companies had identifiable financing where the financier, financing amount, and start date were known within the period of study.

Companies with business activities outside of the forest-risk sector had recorded amounts reduced to more accurately present the proportion of financing that can be reasonably attributed to the forest-risk sector operations of the selected company (see Adjusters). Where available financial information did not specify the purpose of investment or receiving division within the parent company group, reduction factors were individually calculated by comparing a company’s forest-risk sector activities relative to its parent group total activities. Further adjusters were calculated for companies operating in multiple geographies within the scope of this research.

The commercial banks identified in this study were evaluated to determine the strength of any publicly available policies relevant to tropical forest-risk sector investment decision-making, and subsequently scored against a range of criteria incorporating environmental, social and governance standards. Each of the major banks was allocated a score on the scope of its policies and its environmental and social standards. The Forests & Finance Bank Policy Assessment Methodology is based on the Fair Finance Guide (FFG) with a focus on the forest-risk sector. See the Bank Policy Matrix 2018 for more details of the scoring criteria and compiled scores.

The data and assessments presented in this website have not been provided by or authorized by any of the financial institutions or clients concerned. While every attempt has been made to research and present data and assessments accurately and objectively, it is difficult to guarantee complete accuracy. This is not least because of the lack of consistency and transparency in how financial institutions and forest-risk sector clients record key financial and company information. Where there has been ambiguity in source information of financial services, the authors of this website have acted cautiously, resulting in a likely underestimation of the true amounts of finance involved. The authors are committed to correcting any identified errors at the earliest opportunity.

Timeline of updates to the database and bank policy assessments:

Sept 2016: First version of bank policy assessments and database launched, assessing financial services provided to 50 companies for their forest-risk sector production and primary processing activities.

June 2017: Database expanded to cover over 180 companies. Methodology revised to cover entire forest-risk sector supply chains, including trading and manufacturing

December 2018: Database updated and expanded to cover over 190 companies. Bank policy assessments completed for over 30 banks with updated ESG assessment criteria.

November 2019: Dataset updated with financing information for over 100 companies up to August 2019.

September 2020: Dataset updated and expanded to cover not only Southeast Asia, but also Central &West Africa, and Brazil. The new dataset includes two additional sectors: beef and soy, and now covers over 300 of the largest forest-risk commodity companies. (see Methodology).


01. What is the geographical scope of the dataset?

The dataset provides information on the financiers of 300+ forest-risk commodity companies with operations in tropical forest countries, in the three main global rainforest basins: Southeast Asia, Central and West Africa and Brazil.

02. Which countries are included under Southeast Asia?

Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

03. Which countries are included under Central and West Africa?

Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria.

04. Why does the dataset cover Brazil and not the entire Amazon?

It is our aim to expand the dataset to cover the entire Amazon. However, we have chosen to prioritise Brazil, as this country contains the largest part of the Amazon (62%) and is responsible for over 80% of the Amazon forest loss between 2000 and 2017.

But the Amazon is not the only biome under threat. The expansion of soy actually occurs mostly in the Cerrado, and pulp and paper companies have a strong impact on the Mata Atlântica. To address these impacts, and to address leakage of activities from one biome to the other, a holistic approach is required. This is why we have also mapped the finance to forest-risk companies in other biomes in Brazil.

05. What is the basis of the financial information included in the website?

Financial databases Refinitiv (formerly known as Thomson EIKON), Bloomberg IJGlobal, TradeFinanceAnalytics, company register filings, as well as publicly available company reports, were used to identify corporate loans, credit and underwriting facilities provided to the selected companies in the period 2013-2020 (April). Investments in bonds and shares of the selected companies were identified through Refinitiv  and Bloomberg at the most recently available filing date in April 2020. These financial databases provide access to real time market data, news, fundamental data, analytics, trading and messaging tools. The BNDES Transparency portal and Brazil’s Central Bank portal were used to identify additional financial flows to forest-risk companies in Brazil. Please see the Methodology for further information.

06. What was the rationale for selecting the 300+ company groups?

The 300+ company groups selected for this study are involved in the supply chains of the beef, soy, pulp and paper, palm oil, rubber or timber sectors in Southeast Asia, Central & West Africa and Brazil – collectively referred to as ‘tropical forest-risk sectors’. This list is intended to be a representative sample of companies impacting or having the potential to impact tropical forests, and is not an exhaustive list of all companies impacting tropical forests. Other factors that led to their selection include the size of the company and land area of operation, access to information on their financing, and known negative impacts of their operations on tropical forests. Please see the Methodology for further information.

07. Are all of these companies engaged in harmful operations?

Not all of the companies selected for the website are engaged in harmful operations. However, all are engaged in large scale operations in tropical forest regions that have a high risk of causing deforestation and associated social impacts. Banks that do business with these companies are therefore highly exposed to deforestation risks.

08. Why is Suzano the main recipient of finance and why is it considered a forest-risk commodity company?

Suzano is the world’s largest pulp producer, and has received roughly one fifth of the total financing to the tropical forest-risk commodity sector between 2013 and April 2020. The pulp and paper sector is very capital intensive, as new pulp mill construction costs can run into the billions of dollars. In addition, Suzano went through a large merger (with competitor Fibria, in 2018), for which it got additional finance. Due to this combination of factors, it is listed as the largest single recipient of credit.

Most of Suzano’s operations are not located in the Amazon, but in the Cerrado or the Mata Atlântica biomes, which are very biodiverse biomes and equally require protection. In Brazil, the pulp and paper industry generally uses already converted pastures, to expand eucalyptus plantations on. This means the companies don’t play a major role in direct deforestation or land degradation. However, due to the sheer size of land that the pulp industry requires (some 100,000 ha of plantations per mill), the companies do cause competition for land. By buying up pasture land, they are pushing cattle ranchers to new frontiers such as the Amazon in their search for new, cheap land, thus contributing indirectly to deforestation.

09. What is the “Brazil Agriculture Finance Program”?

This is a program through which banks provide the rural sector with subsidised credit – “crédito rural” in Portuguese. Publicly available data about this program discloses the amounts disbursed per bank, per state and per sector, but it does not disclose the name of the recipients. The recipients have therefore been grouped together under the name “Brazil Agriculture Finance Program”.

10. What does “Small-scale Agricultural Operators Brazil” mean?

The database includes over 16,000 small-scale forest-risk companies that received finance from the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES. To simplify the search options, these have been grouped together as “Small-scale Agricultural Operators Brazil”. For information about all the recipients, you can download the full dataset.

11. Why is the value of finance for the soy sector relatively low?

The methodology we used relies on publicly available data, like company reports and data available in financial databases, which often refers to syndicated loans. For the soy sector, the big traders themselves finance a significant portion of the harvest, and this is not covered by our data.


12. Why are the total values for finance to companies operating in Central and West Africa relatively low?

The methodology we used relies on publicly available data, like company reports and data available in financial databases. Many of the actors that drive deforestation in Central and West Africa do not require large syndicated financing that is usually recorded in the financial databases. Moreover, they are not listed companies and the company registers in the relevant jurisdiction to not make sufficiently detailed company level data available. This makes access to information on financial relationships more difficult to obtain when compared to companies that are either listed or are registered in countries where company registers provide detailed company information. Additionally, many companies active in Central and West Africa also obtain finance from sources that are not covered by this dataset, such as from individual financiers.


13. How was the bank policy assessment conducted?

For our assessment of bank policies, we selected 31 out of 35 financial institutions with the most significant financial exposure to the forest-risk sector in Southeast Asia. The assessments were based only on publicly available information, and each bank was given an opportunity to comment on the draft assessment prior to publication. The assessment scores the bank on the scope of its policy implementation and the environmental, social and governance standards that are expected of their clients. The scores are out of a total of 50 points.

The last policy assessment update was done in 2018. The next policy assessment update will be published in 2021, and will also cover financial institutions that operate in Brazil and Central and West Africa.

14. When will the bank policy assessment be updated?

In early 2021 we will publish an updated and expanded bank and investor policy assessment.

15. What’s the difference between the Forests & Finance policy assessment and that of other policy assessment tools?

15.1 Environmental Paper Network Red Lines?

The Red Lines assessment is global, whereas the Forests & Finance assessment focuses on companies operating in Southeast Asia; The Red Lines assessment is focused on the pulp and paper industry, whereas covers 4 forest-risk commodities (palm oil, pulp & paper, timber and rubber; and the Red Lines assessment does not give banks a score for their policies, whereas does.

15.2 Forest 500?

The Forests & Finance policy assessment has more detailed criteria related to deforestation and the protection of human rights, labour rights and traditional people’s rights. Forest 500 has more detailed criteria on the scope of policies, on their implementation at the Financial Institution level and on reporting on them.

15.3 Fair Finance Guide?

The Fair Finance Guide only covers Financial Institutions in 14 countries. This includes Indonesia, Brazil and Japan, but does not include Malaysia, China or the US, countries whose banks play a big role in the financing of deforestation-risk commodities. The Forests & Finance methodology is based on that of the Fair Finance Guide, but includes more “shalls” than “shoulds”. Forests & Finance also has more detailed criteria on biodiversity protection, labour protection, respect for international conventions and tax structures. The Fair Finance Guide includes a requirement for FSC certification, where Forests & Finance requires “credible certification”, and Fair Finance Guide has more detailed criteria on reporting and on chain of custody policies that companies should implement.

15.4 Trase.Finance?

Trase Finance is targeted at a financial audience, providing risk analysis, portfolio assessments, and extensive supply chain mapping.
Forests & Finance is targeted at CSOs and journalists, providing a fully searchable database and quick links to case studies, reports and articles on the ESG impacts of companies and financiers.

Trase Finance covers Brazilian beef, Brazilian soy and Indonesian palm oil.
Forests & Finance covers beef, soy, palm oil, pulp and paper, timber and rubber, in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Central and West Africa.

Trase Finance only lists outstanding bonds & loans, does not adjust finance by sector nor by region, updates equity data every 3 months, has less data on loans and underwriting than Forests & Finance.
Forests & Finance lists all loans, issuances underwriting services, bond holdings and shareholdings for which information was found, it adjusts values by sector and region, to provide a more precise view of the finance flows, and it updates data once a year.

Trase Finance uses the Forest 500 policy scores. And while the Forest 500 policy assessment does include criteria on FPIC and on labour rights, the focus of Trase.Finance is on deforestation.
Forests & Finance has its own policy assessment, which though similar, has more granularity on forest and human rights related questions.

Legal hierarchy and corporate network
Trase Finannce provides ownership structures as well as maps of the corporate networks, which can be filtered by deforestation risk.


16. What can investors do to stop deforestation?

Investors can take a two-pronged approach by addressing 1) the companies directly engaged in tropical forest-risk sectors and 2) the banks financing those companies. For both types of companies, investors should demand full disclosure of risks and application of robust ESG standards and due diligence processes. See page 4 of the Forests & Finance Brochure for more recommendations for investors.

17. What can I do if my bank is financing companies included on the website?

As a first step, we recommend you check whether the bank has any policies governing their financing of tropical forest-risk sectors. Our evaluation of major bank’s policies is available here. If your bank is not included in this evaluation, you could check your bank’s website or ask them directly what policies they have in place to protect forests and people through forest-sector lending. Depending on their response, you might want to ask them to implement a policy, or you might want to find an alternative bank. Our research finds that banks with policies are still financing companies linked to deforestation. Therefore, having a policy is not a guarantee of responsible financing, but may indicate the bank is engaging their clients to improve their performance, or, they may be failing to make sure their policies are being implemented by clients. You are welcome to contact us at if you require further assistance.

18. Who are the organizations that are hosting this website? is a joint project of the Forests and Finance Coalition, which includes Rainforest Action Network, Tuk Indonesia, Profundo, Amazon Watch, Repórter Brasil and BankTrack. Click on the organization name for more information on what we do individually.