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Results from On-The-Ground Efforts to Promote Sustainable Cattle Ranching in the Brazilian Amazon

Erasmus K.H.J. Zu Ermgassen (), Melquesedek Pereira de Alcântara (), Andrew Balmford (), Luis Barioni (), Francisco Beduschi Neto (), Murilo M. F. Bettarello (), Genivaldo De Brito (), Gabriel C. Carrero (), Eduardo De A.S. Florence (), Edenise Garcia (), Eduardo Trevisan Gonçalves (), Casio Trajano Da Luz (), Giovanni M. Mallman (), Bernardo B.N. Strassburg (), Judson F. Valentim () and Agnieszka Latawiec ()
Additional contact information
Erasmus K.H.J. Zu Ermgassen: Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK
Melquesedek Pereira de Alcântara: Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon, Rua Barão de Solimões 12, Manaus, AM 69058-250, Brazil
Andrew Balmford: Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK
Luis Barioni: Embrapa Agriculture Informatics, Av. André Tosello, nº 209, Campus da Unicamp, Campinas, SP 13083-886, Brazil
Francisco Beduschi Neto: Instituto Centro de Vida, Av. Ariosto da Riva, 3473- St E, Alta Floresta, MT 78580-000, Brazil
Murilo M. F. Bettarello: Via Verde Consultoria Agropecuária em Sistemas Tropicais, Rua Mariana Amaral 138, São Sebastião do Paraíso, MG 37950-000, Brazil
Genivaldo De Brito: The Nature Conservancy, Belém, PA 66035-115, Brazil
Gabriel C. Carrero: Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon, Rua Barão de Solimões 12, Manaus, AM 69058-250, Brazil
Eduardo De A.S. Florence: Instituto Centro de Vida, Av. Ariosto da Riva, 3473- St E, Alta Floresta, MT 78580-000, Brazil
Edenise Garcia: The Nature Conservancy, Belém, PA 66035-115, Brazil
Eduardo Trevisan Gonçalves: Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola, Estrada Chico Mendes 185, Piracicaba, SP 13426-420, Brazil
Casio Trajano Da Luz: Instituto de Manejo e Certificação Florestal e Agrícola, Estrada Chico Mendes 185, Piracicaba, SP 13426-420, Brazil
Giovanni M. Mallman: The Nature Conservancy, Belém, PA 66035-115, Brazil
Bernardo B.N. Strassburg: International Institute for Sustainability, Estrada Dona Castorina 124, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22460-320, Brazil
Judson F. Valentim: Embrapa Acre. Rodovia BR-364, km 14, Caixa Postal 321., Rio Branco, SC 69908-970, Brazil
Agnieszka Latawiec: International Institute for Sustainability, Estrada Dona Castorina 124, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22460-320, Brazil

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 4, 1-26

Abstract: Agriculture in Brazil is booming. Brazil has the world’s second largest cattle herd and is the second largest producer of soybeans, with the production of beef, soybeans, and bioethanol forecast to increase further. Questions remain, however, about how Brazil can reconcile increases in agricultural production with protection of its remaining natural vegetation. While high hopes have been placed on the potential for intensification of low-productivity cattle ranching to spare land for other agricultural uses, cattle productivity in the Amazon biome (29% of the Brazilian cattle herd) remains stubbornly low, and it is not clear how to realize theoretical productivity gains in practice. We provide results from six initiatives in the Brazilian Amazon, which are successfully improving cattle productivity in beef and dairy production on more than 500,000 hectares of pastureland, while supporting compliance with the Brazilian Forest Code. Spread across diverse geographies, and using a wide range of technologies, participating farms have improved productivity by 30–490%. High-productivity cattle ranching requires some initial investment (R$1300–6900/ha or US$410–2180/ha), with average pay-back times of 2.5–8.5 years. We conclude by reflecting on the challenges that must be overcome to scale up these young initiatives, avoid rebound increases in deforestation, and mainstream sustainable cattle ranching in the Amazon.

Keywords: livestock; Amazon; beef; dairy; sustainable intensification; land sparing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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