2015-05-15. In Brazil, cattle industry begins to help fight deforestation.

posted May 16, 2015, 8:40 AM by Alan Gould
By Allie Wilkinson, Science. For GSS A New World View chapter 5. Excerpt: Cattle ranching has been the primary driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, as huge swaths of rainforest are cleared to make way for agriculture. But “zero-deforestation agreements” signed by some of Brazil’s big beef industry players appear to be helping reduce the destruction, a new study concludes. “We’re showing that these commitments can [produce] meaningful change on the ground,” says land use researcher Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a lead author of the study, published online this week in Conservation Letters. ...The herd expanded 200% between 1993 and 2013, researchers estimate, reaching a total of nearly 60 million individuals. During that time, an area of forest the size of Italy was cleared.  ...the federal prosecutor began suing ranchers that had illegally cleared forest and threatened to sue retailers in an effort to persuade them to boycott slaughterhouses associated with forest-clearing ranches. In response, Brazil’s three largest meatpacking companies (JBS, Marfrig, and Minerva) signed an agreement with the government, stating they would stop purchasing directly from ranches that cleared more forest than legally permitted. A few months later, the trio of firms signed a more stringent agreement with Greenpeace, known as the G4 agreement, under which they committed to buy only from direct suppliers that reduced deforestation to zero.  ...Within months, nearly 60% of the suppliers had registered, and compliance reached 96% by 2013. ...By 2013, “recent deforestation” had occurred on just 4% of the ranches supplying cows to the slaughterhouses, down from 36% of ranches in 2009.... http://news.sciencemag.org/economics/2015/05/brazil-cattle-industry-begins-help-fight-deforestation