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Brazil beef industry pledges to cut Amazon deforestation

Large food retailers as well as agribusinesses are amongst big companies to recently make zero-deforestation pledges.

A recent study confirmed that public agreements made by beef suppliers in Brazil have had a real impact on rancher and slaughterhouse behaviour in the Amazon. A team led by Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison observed data on land use in the state of Pará before and after a 2009 agreement by major meatpacking companies to remove deforestation from their supply chain. The researchers found that the amount of Amazon deforestation amongst ranch owners they studied had been cut in half.

The agreement, signed by meatpacking companies imposed a moratorium on buying cattle linked to deforestation in Brazil where nearly two-thirds of deforested land is used as cattle pasture. They also agreed to monitor their supply chain and only purchase cattle from farms in Brazil’s from an environmental registry, Cadastro Ambiental Rural (CAR). In addition they also confirmed that they would not purchase any cattle from farm that had recently cleared forest land or in any way employed slave labour. Before this agreement, approximately 40% of direct suppliers were linked to recent deforestation. By 2013, the number had fallen to less than 4%.

Rearing cattle in Brazil is a complex process whereby cattle are calved, reared and fattened in different locations before arriving at slaughterhouses. Meatpacking companies that supply beef to food giants are just one in a number of supply-chain that relies on an assortment of cattle suppliers.

This makes tracing cattle and ensuring that it is entirely deforestation-free nearly impossible. However, the agreement quickly changed the behaviour of all major suppliers to JBS-Friboi, the researchers found.

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Deforestation in the Amazon

Brazil Reduces Deforestation in the Amazon

With attention on the Brazilian election, new reports show that Global Development changes under the presidencies of Lula and Rousseff’s ‘Worker’s Party’ governments have drastically reduced deforestation in the Amazon over the last 10 years.

The report noted that Brazils success in the last decade in bringing its deforestation frontier under control has been ‘astonishing’ following an 80% decrease from a high of 27,800 km² in 2004 to 5,800 km² in 2013. However, despite the decrease the report noted that deforestation in the Amazon is still much too high.

Brazil is now applauded internationally as the country that has made the world’s largest contribution to mitigating climate change and has done so by protecting more areas of indigenous lands in addition to law enforcement actions.

That along with the implementation of satellite monitoring and the 2008 Amazon Fund financing projects has aided in a substantial reduction of deforestation and promoted sustainability.

“South Americas largest Nation has achieved this by demonstrating that success is possible, creating new technology and policy measures and also establishing a model of international payment-for-performance finance that is acceptable to both domestic and international constituencies for sustainable development” says the authors of the report.

The Amazon Rainforest, known as Amazonia, covers 7,000,000 km² of South America, 60% of which is contained in Brazil with the remaining stretched over 8 adjoining countries. The Amazon represents over half of the earth’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most bio-diverse tropical rainforest in the world.

Source: TeleSur

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