The Amazon Soya Moratorium – Forest Solutions

The Amazon Soya Moratorium – Forest Solutions


To understand why the Amazon is so special
you need to be here. To experience the Amazon is something incredible. No only because it’s huge, it’s vast,
it’s by far the largest tropical forest on the planet… …but it’s still wild. The light is beautiful, the trees are beautiful… It’s amazing, it’s a combination of a network
of rivers that are the largest basin in the planet. The forest feeds the river and the rivers
feed the forest. It’s superb. There are areas that you can go
and never before someone was here. In the Amazon you have indigenous tribes
never contacted before… …and it’s crazy to imagine
that we are in the 21st century… …and there are people on this planet
who have never been contacted before by anybody. The Amazon harbours more than half
the world’s remaining rain forest… …and produces a fifth
of all the oxygen we breathe. This vast forest is home
to over twenty million people… …and to more than ten percent
of the planet’s known species. Deforestation is not new to the Amazon. In the 1960s and 70s, the Brazilian government
actively encouraged settlers… …to move from crowded coastal areas
into the unexplored new frontier… …and clear the forest. More than fifteen percent of the Amazon’s forest cover
had already been lost… ….to cattle ranching and logging for timber… …when at the beginning of the new millenium
a different threat emerged. We understood there was something very strange happening. Deforestation was popping up in the north. And this was a new thing. It was coming from inside the heart of the forest… …and then we realised it was soy planted there. From the plane we could see all these originally small
but then growing areas of new deforestation… …popping up like mushrooms everywhere. So we were seeing from above
what was behind a curtain of trees… …to hide the destruction
from the eyes of the Brazilian authorities. It was shocking. And the heat of these fires and the smoke… …and the sound of a tree burning
is something that you don’t forget anymore. The rapid spread of soya was fueled
by two major pieces of infrastructure. First, there was the paving of high way BR-163… …which cut straight
through the heart of the Amazon… …connecting the states of Pará and Mato Grosso. And in the year 2000,
American owned food company Cargill… …started constructing a port in the town of Santarém… …enabling soya producers to ship their product directly to Europe. In order to make soya cultivation financially attractive,
you need lots of land. The soya rush lead to companies buying or stealing land
from traditional communities. Lured by short term financial gain
or forced by threat of violence… …many small scale farmers gave up their lands
and moved to the city… …such as here in Santarém. In Santarém, people took to the streets
to protest against land grabbing, threats and violence. As the anger of the local population focused on Cargill… …environmental groups such as Greenpeace
turned their attention… …to the international market forces
driving soya expansion. Who was cutting the trees… Who was planting soy.
Where was this soya going to? And then we realised that big companies,
big consumer companies, were behind this. They were buying the soy for different reasons. For instance for animal feed
in Europe or for Chinese consumption. So our report exposed the whole chain. Not only the farmers or Cargill
but also the largest consumers of Cargill’s soy. And one of them was perfect. So when in 2006, we suddenly had people
in chicken suits in our restaurants… …of course our first reaction was surprise. They immediately phoned us:
what’s happening here guys? Why are you guys targeting me? We were thinking: what’s the issue?
We thought maybe chicken. And when we then realised it was about the soy
we were using for our chicken feed… …it was quite an eye opener. So they talked to Cargill,
Cargill denied that this was true… …our allegations were completely false,
according to Cargill. That in turn enabled us to reach out again
to other companies, to other stakeholders… …to other NGOs
and also again to our suppliers in Brazil… …to ask them to help facilitate a solution. And they were really angry when they discovered
that they could not trust their main supplier. The pressure from McDonald’s
and other consumer companies… …forced ABIOVE – the Brazilian Association
of Vegetable Oil Industries… …to take responsibility
for its role in deforesting the Amazon. The big boss is called market… …and when the big boss
says “I need something”… …we have to follow,
we have to provide what he needs. And that we did. Driven into each other’s arms,
the Brazilian soya industry, consumer companies… …and environmental organisations
sat down at the negotiation table. It was very difficult, the first meetings
in which we were together, NGOs and companies… All NGOs seated on one side of the table
and all the industry seated on the other side of the table… …just watching each other like that. We were playing cards… …but the secret of the game
was the game itself… …because this was the first time
that we were sitting together. In July 2006, the former antagonists
reached a historic agreement… …that became known as the soya moratorium. All Brazilian traders agreed
to no longer buy soya planted on newly deforested lands. And without the market driving soya expansion,
deforestation rates decreased dramatically. Ever since their initial reunions
the partners have continued to meet. And with the government and banking sector joining in… …they have so far extended the agreement every year. Paulo Adario and myself we respect each other
which is very important, very much. We might not agree on everything and we don’t. But we have the courage
and the time to talk about it and try to… …you know, get the best out of it. But the moratorium needs constant
monitoring and policing. Soya producers who violate
the agreement’s criteria are sanctioned… …and in worst case even black listed. Identifying new areas of deforestation
and confirming them as soya plantations… …is not easy in the vast Amazon Biome… …which makes up fifty percent
of the Brazilian territory. This type of monitoring is done here at INPE,
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. It uses state of the art satellite technology
designed specifically for the soya moratorium. Concerned about their future
as well as their profits… …farmers initially did not receive
the moratorium with open arms. But over the years, they too
are seeing the benefits of the agreement. A major challenge for the moratorium is the
widespread unclarity around land titles throughout the Amazon. In order to effectively manage the soya industry… …precise mapping and registration
of all farm properties is of crucial importance. Since the start of the moratorium… …Cargill and other companies exclusively buy soya
from producers who comply with its criteria. And only farmers who conform to the agreement
receive funding from Brazil’s national bank. Despite these encouraging developments and the fact
the moratorium has been extended every year… …its existence is constantly under threat. We knew since the very beginning that the moratorium
would be a temporary solution. Moratorium means temporary. We were trying to buy time
to find options for the industry… …and also to better understand how we could address
the other big drivers of deforestation. A permanent solution to prevent future deforestation
by the soya industry is yet to be put in place. But the moratorium is already being used as a model
to tackle deforestation by Brazil’s cattle industry… …and may serve as a global example
to counter forest destruction. Today we know that the moratorium
has played a very important role… …in helping Brazil to reduce
enormously the rate of deforestation. And we learned that this strategy… …if we can reproduce this strategy
in different forests, in different countries… …we can help to do what we want to do
which is to protect the forests. We are not condemned to destroy the forests
on this planet to feed the world. Well when I think about the soya moratorium,
I think… Actually, I have this sensation of being proud
of the work that was done. Basically proud of having helped
to save a lot of forest. It’s like you are creating a baby. Now it’s a big guy, nice and healthy,
working, raising a family… …I don’t know, I feel proud for that reason. And everybody onboard:
government, NGOs, industry, public opinion… …and market. So the soya moratorium has been very effective. The fact it has stopped soy being a major driver
of deforestation in the Amazon… …we find is pretty impressive. So we want to continue supporting the moratorium
whilst a more permanent solution is found. The game is not over. We need to preserve those trees. We need to preserve those trees
because they are part of… …the network of life that we depend on. If we don’t continue to work together… …we may lose everything
that has been done up to now. So… it’s up to us.

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