Green labelling, sustainability and the expansion of tropical agriculture: critical issues for certification schemes
Edwards, David P., and Laurance, Susan G. (2012) Green labelling, sustainability and the expansion of tropical agriculture: critical issues for certification schemes. Biological Conservation, 151 (1). pp. 60-64.
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The expansion of agricultural plantations at the expense of forest drives dramatic losses of biodiversity and carbon. Consumers are now demanding sustainability in tropical agriculture and producers are responding with questionable certification standards. Many certification schemes—including those for oil palm, soy, sugar cane and cacao—rely upon the High Conservation Value (HCV) concept to prevent unacceptable losses of biodiversity to agricultural conversion. This concept protects very rare species or habitats, exceptional concentrations of wildlife, or large landscape-level areas of forest. Yet much biodiversity persists below these thresholds yielding the spectre of unsustainable conversion of forest to certified plantation crops under a green label. To meet more rigorous standards of sustainability, tropical plantations would have to retain large patches of native forests in the matrix. We highlight six critical areas in need of consideration by conservation scientists, practitioners and certification processes. In particular, the application of HCV to sustainable agricultural development at the national-level, the use of Imperata grasslands and abandoned agriculture, the creation of Biobanks, and increased price premiums for certified crops could redound to the long-term protection of tropical biodiversity.
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