HRC analyzes why luxury vehicles are buying Amazon rainforest

The French Alps is the world’s largest European mountain range, stretching over 2.4 million acres. Established in 1800, the Haldiram Alps Conservation Reserve (HARC) protects the landscape’s unique flora and fauna from threats such as mining, logging, and recreation.

Humans have made an impact on the HBR and its “spacesuits”: the stunning range’s 23,000 species of plants, 19,000 tree species, 19 different species of mammals and birds, 22,000 amphibians, 70 known orchids, and 200 pairs of gila monsters is threatened, says HARC director Laurent Picot.

But, how are these plants and animals suffering and how could your SUV be making the situation worse?

Harnessing the power of Amazon deforestation

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reports that Chinese luxury car companies are buying deforestation-prone timber from Southeast Asia through third-party log companies. EDF says the purchase of tropical forests is one source of deforestation because loggers come in illegally or with forged permits. The companies use third-party log companies to disguise their involvement in the illegal harvest.

To avoid being added to those companies’ supply chains, Japanese premium automaker Subaru has come up with a solution. It uses a new technology to analyze its models for the potential use of forest products. If it detects any use of tropical forest materials, it will specify specific locations for suppliers to stop using those materials.

Why does this matter?

Studies show that over 90 percent of timber used in America’s luxury vehicles is imported from places where tropical forests have been destroyed. Since luxury brands pay for the timber as raw materials, they are inadvertently contributing to mass deforestation. According to EDF, luxury automakers now purchase wood from a “lucky 13% of the world’s tropical forests,” making up for around 65 percent of all timber consumed in the United States.

HRC researcher Pamela Steele said high-end luxury vehicles have an outsized impact on the landscape and the climate, because high-end buyers are “economically conditioned to buy the best product, and the best product is what’s available to them.”

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