How far have we got in making cattle supply chains deforestation free, and what’s next?
Here’s some summary bullets from Innovation Forum’s “How business can tackle deforestation” conference session on this important topic.
- About 25% of the world’s land surface is grazed by livestock, and much more land is used to grow crops to feed animals.
- Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in some areas, including the Amazon.
- Cattle degrade other ecosystems, including native grasslands, wetlands and riparian zones. And not just in the tropics – cattle ranching impacts half the land area of the lower 48 states of the US.
- Although several initiatives are underway, none compare to the attempts being made to address other commodities, and nothing at the scale necessary. Multi-stakeholder roundtables, standards and a “cattle agreement” in the Amazon can be a catalyst or framework for action.
- The cattle agreement in Brazil had a positive impact: it stimulated collaborative action and commitment. The three largest slaughterhouse chains/traders are engaged, as are some supermarkets and companies such as McDonald’s, a sector leader.
- A full toolbox is needed to address the extensive impacts of cattle. Interventions must include collective action, transparency, deal with the whole life of the animals (which move from farm to farm), traceability, monitoring, enforcement and incentives.
- Further reading: http://www.fao.org/3/a-a0262e.pdf
- We’ll be debating these issues at these forthcoming events: