Founded in 1995, we are an organisation based in the heart of the EU, dedicated to protecting forests and the rights of people who depend on them. We make decisions by consensus and build campaigns together with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world. We identify the threats facing the world’s forests, and work with affected peoples, social and environmental organisations and policy makers to devise and deliver solutions where the EU can make a difference.

Fern focuses on forests’ relation to four overarching issues, Climate, Consumption, Development Aid, and Trade.

Who we are



Fern seeks a world in which environmental, social and economic justice is fully integrated at all levels and people have a voice in decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods.




Fern’s mission is to achieve greater environmental and social justice, focusing on forests and forest peoples’ rights in the policies and practices of the European Union.




  • Collaborative: Part of a global movement working for human rights and environmental justice, our relationship with our partners is mutually beneficial.
  • Evidence-based: Our positions and campaigns are based on active research.
  • Independent: Fern has a diverse funding base, meaning that our workplans are not tied to individual funders’ philosophies or public perceptions.
  • Challenging: Fern persistently questions established thinking about what can and can’t be achieved and responds positively with pro-active ways forward.
  • Inclusive: Both internally and externally we strive for transparent, consultative decision-making.



Fern got the EU to reduce illegal logging and improve forest governance through the adoption and implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan - a pioneering programme to tackle illegal imports of timber, strengthen community rights and improve the way forests are managed.

Progress in reducing illegal logging through FLEGT



Exposed the fallacies of carbon trading, shifting EU policy, preventing forests from being included in the EU Emissions Trading System and stopping REDD schemes from being used to justify continuing emissions in the energy and transport sectors.

Reducing loopholes in emissions counting



Fern brought NGOs, academics and scientists into the notoriously complex debate about Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry to ensure a wide chorus of voices calling for EU forests’ carbon carrying capacity to be increased as well as, not instead of emissions reductions in energy and transport.

Bringing expertise to the LULUCF debate



Fern built a coalition of NGOs to challenge EU and Member State plans for biodiversity offsetting. We managed to halt plans for such policies in the UK and the EU and so protected old growth forests can no longer be cut with the promise of “improving something else, somewhere else.”

Building a coalition against biodiversity offsetting