WWF Statement on Soy, Forest Conversion, and the Amazon | WWF

WWF Statement on Soy, Forest Conversion, and the Amazon

Posted on 17 July 2006
This statement has been produced by WWF International to inform stakeholders about WWF's position on soy, forest conversion in the Amazon, and specifically the respective roles of the Soy Roundtable and Greenpeace's current campaign in the Amazon.

In 2001 WWF initiated a programme to tackle deforestation, focussed on the growth of and expansion of two key crops: palm oil and soya. The programme, known as the Forest Conversion Initiative (FCI) supports WWF efforts in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, backed by work in key markets for these commodities, such as China, India and Europe. A key strategy has been the creation of multi-stakeholder "Roundtable" processes. These seek a long term lasting negotiated solution to the issues caused by these crops, by developing guidance on land use planning, better management practices, and market-based incentives.

The FCI work on soya began in 2003 and is focussed on a variety of key ecoregions - the Amazon, the Atlantic Forests and the Cerrado (Brazilian savannahs). A Roundtable process has been initiated, and the second Roundtable is scheduled to take place at the end of August 2006. Parallel work by the FCI has been to support a "moratorium" on deforestation in Paraguay. This has led to a dramatic reduction in deforestation rates whilst at the same time soya exports have increased.

In early 2006 Greenpeace initiated a campaign to end Amazon deforestation focussing on the threat posed by the expansion of soya and other industrial and agribusiness operations, and their related infrastructure development. The Greenpeace activity seeks to get commitments by key companies operating in the region, together with their customers, for a 10 point plan that aims to halt deforestation in the Amazon biome. Most of the points require compliance with existing laws, others establish good practice.

WWF sees these two activities as both complementary and mutually reinforcing. The Roundtable is a multi-stakeholder, longer term and process-based approach involving a multitude of consumer and producing countries, whilst the Greenpeace Campaign injects urgency into the issue in an important geographic area, the Brazilian Amazon. These are not competing approaches, and WWF urges those companies affected to participate in both approaches.

It is important to emphasise, that:
1. the threats to the Brazilian Amazon go beyond solely soya. There is an urgency to act in parallel on other key issues in order to reduce forest conversion in the area, including: cattle ranching (for both foreign and domestic markets); the role and ability of the Brazilian federal and state-level institutions to ensure ownership of and care for public lands; infrastructure development; etc..
2. the issue of soya goes beyond the Amazon biome, and beyond Brazil. Expansion of soya cultivation throughout South America is leading to destruction of many globally significant biomes, including the last remnants of Interior Atlantic Forests, the Cerrado savannahs, and the Chaco, in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, in addition to Brazil.
3. in dealing with the urgency in the Brazilian Amazon, there should be no displacement of destructive activity to other locations.
4. the experience of the "moratorium" in Paraguay provides evidence that calling for a moratorium on forest conversion for agriculture does not necessarily lead to loss of expansion in production.
5. companies use existing frameworks to demonstrate responsible purchasing. The Basel Criteria, which have already been used operationally, provide one suitable framework.