International companies support “deforestation-free” meat and soy in the Cerrado
Between 2013 and 2015, Brazil destroyed 18,962 km² of Cerrado. This means that every two months in this period, the equivalent of an area the size of the city of São Paulo was lost in the biome. This rate is five times faster than that measured in the Amazon, which makes the Cerrado one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet.
For Tiago Reis, IPAM's environmental policy researcher, the support of companies is an important step, since the main cause of deforestation in the Cerrado is the conversion of native vegetation for agriculture. Removing this vegetation cover puts the balance of the system at risk and directly affects all interconnected biomes, such as the Amazon and the Caatinga. "In addition, this deforestation threatens the environmental balance that guarantees agricultural production in Brazil, since the loss of Cerrado’s native vegetation compromises the formation of rainfall through evapotranspiration," explains Reis.
The Cerrado stores the equivalent of 13.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. This represents almost 11 times the total volume of what Brazil could emit in 2030, according to its INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions). If this accelerated conversion from the Cerrado to agriculture continues, compliance of Brazil's international commitments in the Climate and Biodiversity Conventions will be affected.
According to Edegar Rosa, head of the WWF-Brazil’s food and agriculture program, the Cerrado is extremely important to climate and water regulation, as well as being the most biodiverse savannah on the planet. "Learning from successes in the Amazon, the private sector’s commitment will be key for the protection of the Cerrado biome," explains.
For Cristiane Mazzetti, from Greenpeace’s forests campaign, companies have taken an important step in supporting civil society’s call-to-action expressed in the Cerrado Manifesto. "This is a clear signal from companies to their suppliers that the market will not accept more products that contribute to deforestation, whether in the Amazon or the Cerrado. We hope that the next step will be the announcement of concrete, deforestation-free purchasing policies for commodities from the Cerrado."