Environmentalists ask markets to help stop the destruction of the Cerrado

Posted on September, 11 2017

In a manifesto, WWF-Brazil and over 40 other environmental organizations in Brazil reveal that the agribusiness sector can prevent the destruction of over 30 per cent of the biome.
In a manifesto, WWF-Brazil, TNC, CI-Brazil, Greenpeace Brazil, IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) and Imaflora (Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification) reveal that the agribusiness sector can prevent the destruction of over 30 per cent of the biome
Sao Paulo, 11 September 2017 – Between 2013 and 2015, Brazil destroyed 18,962 km² of the Cerrado. This means that for every two months over this period, the equivalent of an area the size of São Paulo or London of this biome was lost. This rate of destruction makes it one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet, and it is for this reason that environmental organizations have come together to launch the manifesto The future of the Cerrado in the hands of the market: deforestation and native vegetation conversion must be stopped in Sao Paulo today.
The main cause of the destruction of the Cerrado biome is the expansion of agribusiness into areas of native vegetation. And the situation is serious.
To give an idea of the scale of the problem, levels of conversion of native vegetation in the Cerrado have exceeded those in the Amazon for over ten years now. Accordingly, the manifesto requests that companies that purchase soy and meat from the Cerrado and investors working in these sectors act immediately to protect the biome. To do so, they need to adopt effective policies and commitments to eliminate conversion of native vegetation and dissociate their production chains from recently deforested areas.
The manifesto also demands the fulfilment of the international commitments made by the government and that instruments and policies be created to encourage more responsible production in the Cerrado. The organizations warn that simply following the law is not enough, as this still allows for over 40 million hectares to be legally converted in the biome. They request instead that the government and the private sector develop incentives and financial instruments to compensate producers that preserve areas of native vegetation.

Available here, the manifesto provides fifteen arguments underlining the need for action, including:
  • The Cerrado is home to the sources of eight of Brazil’s 12 hydrographic regions and contains a third of Brazil’s biodiversity, with 44 per cent endemism of plant species, but is endangered and has already lost around 50 per cent of its original area;
  • The rate of conversion in the biome could increase further from 2017, and this could intensify if profits made from record soy production in 2017 are invested in the further destruction of native forest and if foreign land ownership law is approved;
  • If the destruction of the Cerrado continues at the rate observed for the period between 2003 and 2013, 480 plant and animal species are expected to become extinct by 2050, and we will lose a further 31-34 per cent of the Cerrado;
  • The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from this process will prevent Brazil from fulfilling its international commitments;
  • The reduced size of the biome may change rainfall patterns in the region, impacting agricultural productivity;
  • There is a lot of social vulnerability at conversion of the Cerrado fronts, where local communities do not possess land titles and are often evicted by land grabbers and speculators;
  • Infringements of rights go beyond land use, and extend to reductions in river flows and contamination, running of agrochemicals into communities, depletion of resources for extraction activities and the growth of urban populations causing an impact on public health, education and sanitation services.
  • We can still develop without causing further destruction. Around 40 million hectares have already been cleared, and these have the potential to be used for soy production in Brazil. This area is sufficient for Brazil to meet its targets to expand soy production over the next 50 years.
  • One of the private sector’s arguments justifying the absence of the monitoring of its production chains is the lack of presence of the Amazon Deforestation Monitoring Program (PRODES) in the Cerrado. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communication has already published the official data for up to 2015 and has stated that the monitoring of this area will now take place on an annual basis, as is already the case for the Amazon.
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For more information, please contact:
Gabriela Yamaguchi | Communications and Engagement Director | WWF-Brazil | gabrielayamaguchi@wwf.org.br; +55 11 976-774-608
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil.
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil.
© WWF / Zig KOCH
The Cerrado savannah
© Leandro Baungartem
Cerrado land which was recently plowed. Soybeans processing plant at the back. Cerrado, Brazil
© Juan Pratginestos/WWF