The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) has detailed new guidelines on avoiding the expansion of soy production into high conservation-value (HCV) forest, savannah and grassland at its conference in Brussels.
The meeting launched new tools to guide the responsible expansion of soy in Brazil and Paraguay, amid an increasing precedence of deforestation and irresponsible soy production in the region. They include the establishment of distinctions between areas where there should be no conversion for soy production; places where the identification of HCV areas is required before expansion; and areas where expansion to soy production would be possible, subject to legal requirements.
The latter two zones are particularly concentrated in southern Brazil and on the country’s northeast coast, approximately equivalent to the area between the cities of Salvador and Parnaíba; while the recommended area of zero conversion to soy production covers large swathes of the Amazon rainforest and extends down into parts of central Brazil, including much of the states of Piauí, Tocantins and Bahia. It also extends westwards, close to the Paraguayan border.
The voluntary association consists of companies along the soy supply chain, from producers, traders and processors to retailers and non-governmental organisations. Since RTRS first adopted its guidelines for responsible soy production in 2009, the standard has achieved 1.3m tonnes of certified soy and the recruitment of more than 180 members.
Jean Timmers, head of policy and conservation at WWF Brazil, which is one of the non-governmental organisations that forms a part of RTRS, said: “While Brazil does have national laws aimed at protecting its forests, these will still allow the destruction of 88m hectares. The plethora of recent zero deforestation commitments from large corporations presents a unique opportunity to save some of the world’s last pristine ecosystems.
“There is more than enough space for decades of soy expansion without cutting a single tree. RTRS plays a key role in this effort.”
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