From August 2008 through July 2019, soy farms accounted for 20% of all land deforested in the state of Mato Grosso, the largest Brazilian soy producer.
Of 2.5 million hectares of native vegetation lost in Mato Grosso in the period, 500 thousand hectares were detected on soy farms. Of these, 92% were not authorized by the environment state agency and were thus illegal.
This is what the new report “Soy and illegal deforestation: the state of the art and guidelines for an expanded monitoring protocol in Mato Grosso” from the Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV) shows.
Illegality was, however, concentrated on fewer than 200 properties that accounted for more than half of all land deforested on soy farms in the state. Among these, most were large properties (85%) with more than 1.5 thousand hectares.
More than 50% of deforestation detected on soy farms was concentrated in 15 municipalities. Eight of them are in the Amazon biome and the other seven municipalities are in the Cerrado.
The report also highlights that only 30% of these soy farms that had illegally deforested had been embargoed by the federal (Ibama) or state (Sema/MT) environmental agencies.
Embargoes are punitive and preventive measures set up to allow the natural regrowth of vegetation or recovery of natural environments damaged by human activities.
The Cerrado Biome Under Threat
Although the numbers for illegal deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes were very similar – approximately 1.2 million hectares in each biome – deforestation on soy farms in the Cerrado (307.6 thousand hectares) was almost double the amount cleared in the Amazon (159.6 thousand hectares).
“This demonstrates how threatened the Cerrado biome is because of illegal deforestation linked to soy farms”, says the report.
Although soy crops have expanded more rapidly in the Amazon, the pressure to convert natural environments into soy crops in the Cerrado is much stronger. Furthermore, not only is the illegality higher but so is the overall deforestation, whether or not overlapped by soy crops.
Expanding commitments in the soy supply chain
The report urges that ambitious measures must be taken to combat deforestation in the soy supply chain in the State. “Mato Grosso needs a more comprehensive agreement in addition to the Moratorium.
“One that extends monitoring to the Cerrado biome, considers the environmental compliance of properties as a whole — rather than only the area currently cultivated with soy— includes other crops such as corn and rice, as well as increases transparency in monitoring and audit procedures and results” says Ana Paula Valdiones, Program Coordinator as Instituto Centro de Vida.
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