Trying to turn sustainability into a staple of the Amazon

BRAZIL - John Cain Carter, an alumnus of Texas Christian University's ranch management program, is on a mission to convince Brazilian cattlemen that it's good business to employ an environmentally friendly approach to producing beef cattle and growing soybeans.
calendar icon 13 December 2006
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And he's not just selling sustainable growth on its own merits. Europeans, who buy plenty of Brazilian soy and beef, are making noises about a two-year moratorium proposed by Greenpeace on soy purchases because of Amazon deforestation. In July, Greenpeace said that it wants a moratorium to last until mechanisms are in place to confirm that the region is being protected.

The rate of deforestation has dropped since 2004, some say because of a downturn in the soy market. But an area equal to about 87 percent of the size of Texas, 232,000 square miles, has been cleared for logging, ranching and subsistence farming in the past 35 years.

Carter, who runs a 20,000-acre cattle ranch in the Xingu River Basin near the Amazon with his Brazilian wife, Kika, has formed Alianca da Terra (Portuguese for "Alliance of the Earth") to create a program that certifies producers who use environmentally acceptable production and management practices.

The alliance's trained agronomists and ecologists create a balance sheet of a ranch's conditions, he said. The landowner is given a management plan that notes needed action to curb erosion, prevent wildfires and improve water resources, along with deadlines. When ecologically sustainable techniques are in place, the producer gets a "green stamp" of approval from the organization.

Source: Star-Telegram

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