International climate finance: UK aid for halting deforestation and preventing irreversible biodiversity loss

A review examining the effectiveness of UK aid in halting deforestation and preventing biodiversity loss.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 15 July 2021
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Life on land

Latest news

We awarded a green-amber score and made five recommendations for our review on UK aid for halting deforestation and preventing irreversible biodiversity loss. We have since completed our follow-up process assessing the government’s progress against our recommendations. Find out more on the ‘Further scrutiny’ tab.


Deforestation and biodiversity loss are topical areas of considerable public interest, where the UK government has made strong policy commitments. It is also one area of the global efforts to address climate change widely considered to be lagging.

Currently, just 3% of international climate finance to reduce emissions goes towards protecting forests and other ecosystems, even though tropical forest loss currently accounts for 8% of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, biodiversity is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

The UK’s climate portfolio includes a wide range of measures relating to the protection of forests and biodiversity. ICAI estimates that the current portfolio includes more than £580 million in bilateral aid commitments related to deforestation and biodiversity, including headline programmes addressing illegal timber, forest governance and sustainable land use. An additional £1.3 billion in climate-related bilateral programming has recently been announced, which includes a £220 million International Biodiversity Fund to protect endangered species and habitats and a £100 million Biodiverse Landscapes Fund to protect mangroves and forests.

This review evaluates how well UK aid has helped to identify solutions and mobilise finance for tackling the challenges of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on land



Published 8 December 2020

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 15 July 2021

Government response

Published 13 September 2021

Parliamentary scrutiny

IDC hearing 20 October 2021

ICAI follow-up

Published 18 July 2023