Friday, 20 February 2015

Biodiversity principles and Roundtable Responsible Soy

Conversion and modification of habitat for increased soy production is already a major pressure on biodiversity, and is predicted to increase over the next decades, largely drive by the use of soy for feed for livestock.
I spotted a reference to the Roundtable Responsible Soy (RTRS) in a recent news item about Sustainable Soy and Food Waste Drive Progress in Netherlands: "Only soy meeting Roundtable Responsible Soy (RTRS) criteria is now being imported as part of the nation’s annual 300,000 tonne requirement, as of 1 January 2015, says the Dutch Dairy Association (NZO)."
The RTRS Standard for Responsible Soy Production is available as a pdf and contains several principles for sustainable practice. Here are the specific principles and practices that are relevant to biodiversity:

Principle 4: Environmental Responsibility
4.4 Expansion of soy cultivation is responsible.
Note: This criterion will be revised after June 2012 if RTRS-approved maps and system are not available.

4.4.1 After May 2009 expansion for soy cultivation has not taken place on land cleared of native habitat except under the following conditions: It is in line with an RTRS-approved map and system (see Annex 4.)

or Where no RTRS-approved map and system is available:

a) Any area already cleared for agriculture or pasture before May 2009 and used for agriculture or pasture within the past 12 years can be used for soy expansion, unless regenerated vegetation has reached the definition of native forest (see glossary).

b) There is no expansion in native forests (see glossary)

c) In areas that are not native forest (see glossary), expansion into native habitat only occurs according to one of the following two options:

Option 1. Official land-use maps such as ecological-economic zoning are used and expansion only occurs in areas designated for expansion by the zoning. If there are no official land use maps then maps produced by the government under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are used, and expansion only occurs outside priority areas for conservation shown on these maps.

Option 2. An High Conservation Value Area (HCVA) assessment is undertaken prior to clearing and there is no conversion of High Conservation Value Areas.

Note: Where neither official land use maps nor CBD maps exist, Option 2 must be followed.

4.4.2 There is no conversion of land where there is an unresolved land use claim by traditional land users under litigation, without the agreement of both parties.

4.5 On-farm biodiversity is maintained and safeguarded through the preservation of native vegetation.

4.5.1 There is a map of the farm which shows the native vegetation.

4.5.2 There is a plan, which is being implemented, to ensure that the native vegetation is being maintained (except areas covered under Criterion 4.4)

4.5.3 No hunting of rare, threatened or endangered species takes place on the property.


Principle 5: Good Agricultural Practice

5.2 Natural vegetation areas around springs and along natural watercourses are maintained or re-established.5.2.1 The location of all watercourses has been identified and mapped, including the status of the riparian vegetation.

5.2.2 Where natural vegetation in riparian areas has been removed there is a plan with a timetable for restoration which is being implemented.

5.2.3 Natural wetlands are not drained and native vegetation is maintained.


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