Leather industry giant moves to end Amazon destruction

Feature story - August 14, 2009
Bertin, the world’s largest leather exporter, is joining the fight against deforestation and climate change by finally doing the right thing and backing the call for a moratorium on buying cattle from farms responsible for Amazon deforestation.Jacutinga farm, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Cattle loading to Marfrig slaughterhouse at Tangar. © Ricardo Funari / Lineair

Since the release of our expose, "Slaughtering the Amazon," just two months ago, we've seen an overwhelming response from companies fighting to distance themselves from Amazon destruction. Major shoe companies Adidas, Nike, Timberland, Clarks, and Geox have all committed not to buy leather from Amazon destruction, prompting the recent decision by Bertin to commit to stop sourcing cattle from newly deforested areas and implement a traceability system to ensure the sourcing.

The Plan

Over the next six months, Bertin will register and map all farms which directly supply cattle to the company. For the rest of the supply chain, including rearing and nursery farms, it will implement a traceability system from farms to its slaughterhouses and processing facilities by 2011. They will also ensure that they don't buy cattle from indigenous and protected areas or from farms linked to slave labor, land conflicts, and land grabbing.

Bertin's commitment to end Amazon deforestation comes soon after a similar announcement from Marfrig, one of the world's largest beef traders. It leaves Brazilian JBS-Friboi, the world's largest producer and global exporter of processed beef, as the last major exporter that has failed to commit to help end the destruction of the Amazon. Contrary to its competitors, JBS-Friboi is staying silent on the issue and is actually expanding into the Amazon, having rented several new facilities north of Mato Grosso State, an area which has the greatest rate of cattle ranching expansion and deforestation in the Amazon.

Brazil's cattle sector needs to follow the soy industry's example and commit to a moratorium. Both the federal and state governments have to ensure a moratorium is effective by mapping, registering and monitoring rural properties and helping the private sector fulfill its corporate responsibilities. Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of Amazon rainforest destruction and contributes to making Brazil the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.

Protecting forests and tackling climate change

There are just 114 days left till the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. We need Brazilian President Lula to support the industry initiatives and demonstrate that Brazil has measures in place to end Amazon destruction. We need all world leaders at this year's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen to agree on the funding required to end deforestation.

We are calling for developed world governments to provide $140 billion a year to tackle the climate crisis, to fund both mitigation and adaptation measures in developing countries. Approximately $40 billion a year of this should be designated to forest protection. The funds would be provided in return for a commitment to stop deforestation globally by 2020.

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