Twenty-three leading global food companies signaled that they are “committed to halting forest loss associated with agricultural commodity production” in one of the world’s most vital ecosystems, Brazil’s Cerrado savanna. At an event hosted by The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and Unilever, the companies expressed support for the objectives defined in the Cerrado Manifesto, a call to action for the elimination of deforestation and conversion of native vegetation in the Cerrado.
Covering more than a quarter of Brazil’s land area, the Cerrado is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, and millions of people, including diverse indigenous communities. In 2015, it yielded 45 million metric tons of soy and 74 million cattle. At the same time, however, it is being cleared faster than the Amazon.
Unfortunately, about half of the Cerrado’s natural vegetation has already been lost, and another 15 million hectares are projected to be cleared in coming decades. Each year, clearing in the Cerrado is responsible for an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual emissions of 53 million cars. This contributes to rising temperatures, reduced rainfall, prolonged droughts, and more frequent fires, and it squeezes wildlife into ever smaller spaces, including spotted jaguars, giant anteaters, maned wolves, and howler monkeys.