Clarity on cutoff dates is essential for enabling companies to establish precise, actionable, and monitorable commitments related to deforestation-free and conversion-free supply chains. At least as important, cutoff dates can send market signals – and ideally help establish sector-wide norms – that curtail land speculation, deforestation, and conversion in frontier areas.

Core Principles 1.1 and 1.2 state that robust commitments specify a cutoff date for deforestation and conversion. This Operational Guidance provides further information on setting appropriate cutoff dates. The following terminology is used:

    • The cutoff date specifies the permissibility of deforestation or conversion based on the timing of such events on the ground. Clearance of natural forest after the cutoff date renders the affected area or production unit, and the commodity produced there, non-compliant with no-deforestation commitments. Similarly, clearance of any natural ecosystems after the cutoff date renders the affected area or production unit, and the commodity produced there, non-compliant with no-conversion commitments.
    • The target date is the date by which a given company (or other commitment- or policy-setting entity) intends to have fully achieved or adhered to its commitment.
    • Sector-wide cutoff dates are cutoff dates that are widely agreed upon and applied for a particular commodity in a particular geographic area. That geographic area may be a country, a region within a country, or several countries sharing a similar production and conservation context. Sector-wide cutoff dates may arise through various means, including: i) voluntary action of groups of companies comprising a large portion of the given sector context, ii) government policy and enforcement, or iii) combinations of these or other means.[1]

Box 1. Cutoff dates and target dates

Company “A” has a 2015 cutoff date and a 2020 target date for their no-deforestation commitment. This signifies the following:

  • The cutoff date indicates that the commodity covered by the commitment may not be produced on land that has been subject to deforestation or conversion since 2015.
  • The target date indicates that by 2020 the company commits to have fully achieved its commitment – i.e., to have no commodity volume in its supply chain that was produced on land subject to deforestation or conversion since 2015.
  • To fulfil its commitment, by no later than 2020 the company would need to manage its operations and supply chain to avoid inclusion of material produced on land subject to deforestation or conversion after 2015.

[1] Sector-wide cutoff dates are those that apply to a dominant portion (if not all) of the given sector/geography context. Thus, for example, the cutoff date defined in the Brazil Soy Moratorium is considered a sector-wide cutoff date for the area where this Moratorium applies. Cutoff dates in voluntary standards that cover only a minority of a given sector (e.g., certification programmes of the Forest Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, and Round Table on Responsible Soy) can help companies demonstrate sustainable sourcing and help recognise sustainable producers but are not considered sector-wide cutoff dates for the purpose of this guidance.

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