Amazon soya moratorium celebrates first anniversary

Posted by jamie — 24 July 2007 at 4:13pm - Comments

A Greenpeace plane flies over the Amazon rainforest

Memories of the giant chickens that invaded branches of McDonald's last year might be fading fast, but it's one year since a moratorium was agreed on buying soya from the Amazon rainforest. It was our chicken-led campaign that helped spur McDonald's and UK supermarkets into putting pressure on the soya traders in Brazil, who were trading in beans grown in newly deforested areas of the rainforest.

As part of the two-year moratorium, the traders are now working with us and other campaigning groups (from both environmental and social justice backgrounds) to make sure no more forest is lost as a result of soya farming. The group of traders and non governmental organisations - called the Soya Working Group, which is working closely with the Brazilian government - has been in place since October collaborating on the practical aspects of keeping the moratorium afloat, and results are already coming through. In the state of Mato Grosso - on the frontline of soya-related deforestation - there has been a 40 per cent reduction in deforestation between August 2006 and May 2007.

To make sure those deforestation rates keep dropping, two big areas of work have been pegged as vital for the success of the project. First, making accurate maps of the rainforest, farm boundaries and existing deforested areas is essential. Without these, it would be impossible to monitor the soya farms and check they're not expanding into new areas of forest.

The second chunk of work is to build stronger relationships with the government departments and enforcement agencies responsible for safeguarding the rainforest. The vast expanse of the Amazon and a lack of resources have meant that, in the past, it has been difficult for the government to enforce its forest protection laws. But the plan is that this coalition of companies and environmental and social groups, working together with the government, will be able to pool resources to prevent further deforestation.

There's also work being undertaken to educate soya farmers about the Brazilian Forest Code (a law which regulates the management of the rainforest) and about the moratorium.

A year into the moratorium and a meeting is being held today in Sao Paulo to mark progress so far, which is looking good. Of course, it may take longer than two years to complete what is a vast amount of work but we'll keep you posted about further developments. There's still a long way to go.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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