While people around the world have long been aware of the loss of the Amazon rainforest, the ongoing destruction of the neighbouring Cerrado savannah is less well known.
The savannah is home for five per cent of global biodiversity as well as a critical source of water for Brazil. And yet, newly released deforestation statistics from the Brazilian government show that this vitally important region is one of the most endangered natural areas on the planet.
In all, 648,400 hectares were lost in the 12 months up to July 2019 – equivalent to an area the size of the UK’s capital city London being cleared every three months. And that’s on top of the destruction, which has already led to the loss of 50 per cent of the Cerrado’s original coverage.
Farmers and land companies have been driving this deforestation in recent years, motivated more by land grabbing and real estate speculation than increased production. In fact, 23 million hectares of already cleared areas in the Cerrado are considered highly suitable for soy production.
So what can be done to stop the Cerrado from moving towards extinction?
Investor and buyer appeals for action have helped to stabilize deforestation rates to a certain extent in recent years. But more action is needed.
That’s why, together with more than 130 global companies, financiers and NGOs, we’re now developing a new initiative that includes the creation of a fund to reward farmers who preserve lands that may otherwise be converted.
We believe that this innovative market mechanism really can help halt deforestation in the Cerrado.