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Are Amazon cattle ranchers becoming better land stewards?

Daniel Curtis Nepstad, Woods Hole Research Center; Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia, dnepstad@whrc.org (Presenting)
Oswaldo Carvalho, Jr., IPAM, oswaldo@ipam.org.br
Kemel Kalif, IPAM, kemel@ipam.org.br
Oriana Trinidade Almeida, IPAM, oriana@ipam.org.br
Claudia Stickler, University of Florida; IPAM, cstickle@ufl.edu
Gina Knust Cardinot, IPAM; Universidade Federal Rio de Janeiro, gcardinot@ipam.org.br

Roughly three fourths of Amazon deforestation is related to cattle pasture formation. Any change in the way in which cattle ranchers manage their land could have tremendous consequences for the health of the region’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. We report on the potential for promoting land stewardship among the region’s cattle sector. Ranchers are being pushed towards stewardship by the growing strength of command-and-control environmental agencies, but also by the stronger signals from markets and financial institutions that are nervous about the environmental and social risks of buying from, or extending credit to, Amazon producers. In an international war of protectionism that ground world trade negotiations to a halt, environmental and social risks are now almost as important as health risks in determining the agricultural commodities and the regions that are allowed to sell into the most lucrative markets, such as the European Union. In a network of “socioenvironmentally responsible” producers that IPAM and the Aliança da Terra are building in Mato Grosso, some of the most inexpensive conservation measures (anti-erosion bunding, fire-breaks, riparian forest conservation) are common on cattle ranchers, while more expensive conservation measures (pumped groundwater supplies for cattle, compliance with the 80% legal forest reserve requirement) are rare. These more expensive conservation measures may also become affordable. Landholders wishing to comply with forest reserve regulation can do so over a 30-yr period by contributing to a fund that is used to purchase private inholdings in state parks. Eliminating cattle access to streams may become less onerous if lending institutions develop the graded lines of credit that they are currently investigating. The forces of globalization may lead to better land stewardship if transparent, accurate systems for tracking property-level environmental performance translates into improved market access.

Science Theme:  LC (Land Use and Land Cover Change)

Session:  2B: The Changing Amazon Landscape

Presentation Type:  Oral

Abstract ID: 131

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