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Land use > Agriculture > Livestock products > Leather

The raising of cattle (livestock) for leather, can result in land use change that may directly or indirectly impact ecosystems such as forests, and contribute to global climate change. Raising livestock to meet the global demand for cattle products, can change land use patterns by calling for the conversion of natural areas for pasture land and feed crop production. These areas often function as valuable carbon sinks and/or provide other ecological services that help to regulate our global climate.
Consumer demand for leather products can be a driver of global forest conversion for livestock production if standards are not put into place to ensure that raw materials are not being sourced from areas of new deforestation.
  • Nearly 80% of new deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is for cattle grazing, accounting for almost half of Brazil's total greenhouse gas emissions. [1] As a result of deforestation and other land use change, Brazil is now one of the four largest global greenhouse gas emitters.






Cattle on a 'semi-intensification' model ranch in the Brazilian Amazon.
  • Leather Working Group is a multi-stakeholder group working to "develop and maintain a protocol that assesses the compliance and environmental performance of tanners and promotes sustainable and appropriate environmental business practices within the footwear leather industry."[3]
    • The Leather Working Group's objective is "to work transparently, involving suppliers, brands, retailers, leading technical experts within the leather industry, NGOs, academic institutions and other stakeholder organisations."[4]
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) - ILRI works to "generate knowledge and technologies designed to reduce poverty, hunger, disease and environmental degradation in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia."[5]


  • Deforestation-free leather comes closer to reality in the Brazilian Amazon, 3 May 2010 by Mongabay.com: "Prominent leather buyers have developed a new traceability system to ensure that leather products from Brazil don't result in deforestation, reports the National Wildlife Federation, an NGO working to improve the environmental performance of the cattle industry in the Amazon."
    • "Under the terms of the protocol, meat packers must certify that all their direct suppliers have registered their farms — providing GPS coordinates of their holdings — by November 2010. Packers who fail to meet the criteria will be unable to sell leather to members of the Leather Working Group."
    • "Improving the traceability of beef and leather is significant because cattle ranching is the single largest driver of Amazon destruction: 80 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture. Ranching is also Brazil's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions."[6]
  • JBS agrees to protect Amazon forest 28 September 2009 by Northern Colorado Business Report: JBS, the world's largest beef company, "has agreed to make a commitment to Greenpeace to not buy products from protected areas in the Amazon region"...claims it will "abide by practices that 'eliminate deforestation' in the Amazon biome." [7]
  • Beef Producers in Amazon Declare Moratorium, 28 August 2009 by VOA News: "Major beef and leather producers in Brazil have agreed not to use cattle raised in recently deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest."
    • "The governor of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso has called on meat producers not to buy cattle raised on recently deforested lands in the Amazonian state. Now, two major beef producers in Brazil, Bertin and Marfrig, have announced they are joining the initiative. Shoe makers Nike and Timberland signed on earlier this month."
    • "The Brazilian government and independent third-party observers will enforce the moratorium using satellite photographs, aerial fly-overs, and site visits. The meat processors have agreed not to buy cattle from those responsible for newly deforested lands."[8]


  • Forest Footprint Disclosure Annual Review (PDF file) - This February 2010 Forest Footprint Disclosure report makes available the results of its 2009 company disclosure request. The report "reveals the names of those businesses that have responded to its first call to disclose details of their ‘Forest Footprint’," defined as "the extent to which procurement policies for Forest Risk Commodities (FRCs) such as palm oil, soy, timber, beef, leather and biofuels are linked to deforestation. The Report identifies two high profile British High Street names as ‘Best Performers’ in their sectors – Marks & Spencer (General Retail) and Sainsbury’s (Food and Drug Retail)." [9] (PDF file)

Livestock edit
Animals and products: Cattle (beef, leather) | Pigs/Swine (pork) | Sheep (wool)
Events: International Workshop on Solutions to Deforestation and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Caused by Cattle Expansion (2009)

Land use edit
Dry lands | Land tenure | Land use change (LUC case studies) | Land Use Impacts of Fossil Fuels | ILUC Portal

Indirect land use impacts (Searchinger-Wang debate)
Land use change factors: Agriculture (Livestock, Crops - Rice) | Deforestation | Mining

Agriculture edit
Issues: Ecosystem displacement | Food versus fuel debate | Intensification of agriculture | Land use change
Soil: Soil amendments (Agrichar/Biochar, Terra preta) - Soil carbon sequestration
US - Department of Agriculture | Farm Bill
Crops/Plants (Feedstocks) | Drylands | Livestock


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