Agricultural certification as a complementary tool for environmental law compliance

Biological Conservation

By d’Albertas, F.; Ruggiero, P; Pinto, L.F.G.; Sparovek, G.; Metzger, J.P. in articles

December 18, 2022


December 18, 2022


12:00 AM




Agricultural sustainability standards are an important way of reducing commodity expansion’s pressures on biodiversity. Despite the increase of global area under certification and mounting evidence of positive socioeconomic outcomes, certification-derived conservation benefits are less clear. We applied a robust counterfactual approach with a difference-in-difference methodology to quantify the environmental consequences of certification in one of the largest coffee-producing areas in the world, in southern Brazil, within the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado biomes. We evaluated whether the adoption of certification standards affected native vegetation regeneration and deforestation, the proportion of vegetation deficit within each farm (the required area to achieve Federal Legislation required vegetation cover), and the conservation of sensitive vegetation protected under law across 531 certified farms. We did not detect certification-derived effects on the natural vegetation cover deficit and on deforestation and regeneration rates, which were low for certified and non-certified farms. However, we found that certified farms are restoring more sensitive areas than non-certified farms in the Atlantic Forest, which indicates a potential combined effect between law enforcement and certification. We suggest that in more consolidated landscapes, certification beneficial impacts on deforestation and regeneration might be more limited than observed in areas with weaker governance, such as agricultural frontiers or low-income countries. However, our results demonstrate the potential for certification schemes to complement and promote environmental legislation compliance. These potential combined effects between private sustainability standards and compliance with government environmental policies could provide a potent tool for improving the effectiveness of certification schemes in other high-biodiversity landscapes.

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December 18, 2022
2 minute read, 251 words
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