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Zero-deforestation commitments by companies have the potential to cut cattle-related deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by half.


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Cattle ranching is the biggest cause of tropical deforestation in the Amazon – and in the world.

A study finds that some of the world’s largest slaughterhouses have reduced deforestation due to livestock in the Amazon by 15% – the equivalent of sparing 7,000 kilometres.2 of deforestation (4.5 times the size of London) – through their adherence to zero-deforestation policies between 2010 and 2018.

If these policies were fully implemented and adopted in all cattle companies operating in the Amazon region, 24,000 km2 of forests (an area larger than Wales) would have been avoided during this time, effectively halving cattle-driven deforestation in Brazil.

The results were published today in the journal global environmental change.

Deforestation is the second largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions after the use of fossil fuels, and the Brazilian Amazon is a global deforestation hotspot.

Non-deforestation commitments are supply chain policies that aim to ensure that the production of goods does not involve deforestation, by identifying and dropping off suppliers who produce in areas that have recently been cleared of natural vegetation. The commitments have been signed by many of the UK’s leading beef retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose supermarkets.

Although the UK imported 60 million tonnes of Brazilian beef in 2017, according to the National Beef Association, the UK is self-sufficient at 75% of its beef. Many British companies are increasingly turning away from Brazilian beef due to the threat of deforestation. But the researchers argue that this is not the best approach.

Professor Rachel Garrett said: “We can benefit from the climate by eating less meat overall. But when it comes to deforestation, the solution is not to avoid beef from certain countries – because then we lose our ability to make a difference in those places.” “. Moran Professor of Conservation and Development at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Conservation Research, and senior author of the report.

She added: “If we eat imported beef, we should buy it from retailers who are trying to improve the cattle production systems in Brazil and elsewhere. If enough countries join the UK and EU in buying deforestation-free beef, it will probably be We have a positive impact on the planet by reducing deforestation.”

Due to the complexity of Brazilian supply chains and the incomplete availability of public records, it has so far been difficult to determine how many livestock in any given region have been purchased by companies that commit to non-deforestation. This has hampered efforts to analyze the effectiveness of no-deforestation policies associated with beef and leather goods, such as shoes and handbags.

The researchers tracked the links between farming areas, slaughterhouses, and companies with non-deforestation commitments in the Brazilian Amazon cattle sector, to see how these links affected deforestation.

An agreement called G4 is the most widespread and most widely enforced commitment not to deforestation for livestock in the Brazilian Amazon – accounting for more than 99% of livestock exports. The study focused on companies that have adopted the G4 agreement, and found that it is associated with significant reductions in deforestation.

“We have shown that no-deforestation policies have an important – and measurable – impact on protecting forests, and that, through widespread adoption and strict enforcement, they can achieve a lot,” Garrett said.

She added, “Even reducing deforestation by 15% is a huge amount. But this finding shows that supply chain policies have significant limitations, and we need to pair them with a more visionary approach to help countries like Brazil improve their agricultural systems.”

Researchers say a mix of public and private sector interventions is needed to improve livestock farming practices and help eliminate deforestation in countries like Brazil. Public sector interventions could include support for alternative economic activities, financial incentives or greater pressure to avoid deforestation by the Brazilian government.

“With this evidence, supermarkets can use their influence to help improve livestock production in Brazil. But more needs to be done to improve the strictness of corporate policies and market coverage for policy adopters, even in relatively good coverage areas such as the Brazilian Amazon,” said Dr. Sam Levy of Brazil. ETH Zurich and New York University, lead author of the report.”

The production of cattle for beef and hides is the cause of more than 70% of all deforestation in the Amazon – many of which are illegal. Zero deforestation commitments cover 82% of the beef exported from the Brazilian Amazon for international trade – but a significant amount of the beef production destined for domestic markets in Brazil is not covered.

Deforestation leads to the loss of diverse animal and plant life, threatens the livelihoods of indigenous groups, and increases inequality and conflict.

In 2021, the Glasgow Leaders’ COP26 Declaration on Forestry and Land Use pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. It has been signed by more than 100 countries, representing 85% of global forests.

more information:
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon could be cut in half by scaling up implementation of deforestation-free livestock commitments, global environmental change (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2023.102671

Provided by the University of Cambridge

the quote: Corporate No-Deforestation Commitments Have Potential to Halve Livestock-Driven Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon (2023, April 19) Retrieved April 19, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-companies- zero-deforestation-commitments-alvotential-halve.html

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