Good News About Soy Farming in the Amazon

Over the last 14 years, a unique public-private initiative has reduced soy farming deforestation in the Amazon, so much so, that almost no soy coming from the Amazon currently contributes to deforestation.

You may recall when Greenpeace launched a campaign in 2006 exposing the damage of forest clear-cutting for soy the previous year - more than 1,600 sq. km (nearly 4 million acres) - and demanded action to stop the devastation.


In response to the public outcry, major soy companies in the region reached a landmark agreement as signatories to the Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM), pledging not to purchase any crops grown on recently cleared land - and the success has been remarkable. New research shows that 98.6 percent of all soy grown in the region complies with the moratorium.


Assistant professor Robert Heilmayr at the University of California-Santa Barbara and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Madison have now quantified the ASM’s effects and documented how it achieved its goals. The researchers found that while the agreement prevented millions of acres of deforestation in its first decade, the policy did not appear to hamper agricultural growth or push deforestation to other sectors or regions.


“Over one decade the ASM saved 18,000 sq.km of forest (almost 7,000 square miles),” said Heilmayr, an environmental economist in the Environmental Studies Program and at the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. This is an area bigger than Northern Ireland or the state of Connecticut.

Costa Rica Leads the Way: Costa Rica has the most successful forest management model on earth. In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had the highest deforestation rates in Latin America - but the next few decades saw the country halt her forest loss, initiate replanting and conservation efforts, and regrow almost all of her lost tree cover. More...

The Heroic Power of Individuals: Modern day Davids successfully challenging Goliaths are honoured in this year's Goldman Environmental Foundation prizes, a global award for environmental activism. We should all take inspiration from the winners and realise the difference every one of us can make to the world around us. More...