In an effort to reduce the negative impacts of cattle ranching, including its carbon hoofprint, the Rainforest Alliance, an international nongovernmental conservation organization, announced a new standard of certification for cattle farms. The program, which will combat ecological, economic and social problems associated with the industry, was announced at a press conference in San José Tuesday.
Working hand in hand with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Tropical Agricultural Research Center (CATIE), the Rainforest Alliance’s stamp of approval ensures the protection of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in areas surrounding cattle farms.
Chris Wille, chief of sustainable agriculture for the Rainforest Alliance, mentioned the environmentally harmful history of cattle farming, noting that an estimated 90 percent of the planet’s deforestation is due to the clearing of land for pasture. He also said that the cattle industry is responsible for nearly 20 percent of the gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. He believes that by encouraging cattle farmers to participate in more responsible use of the land, Costa Rica can further reduce its carbon footprint.
The Rainforest Alliance has been instrumental in establishing standards and practices of low-impact tourism and agriculture in Costa Rica. These guidelines regulate animal treatment, land use and workers’ rights, among other related topics.
Tania López, vice minister of the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG), expressed her excitement for the project.
“This change in attitude … is a demonstration that the world is transforming, and the food industry is not removed from this evolution,” she said.
The Rainforest alliance, USAID and CATIE are convinced that the implementation of this new standard is a major step in making certain that Costa Rica reaches its goal of being entirely carbon neutral by 2021 (TT, May 25, 2007).