British supermarket giant Tesco has committed the equivalent of about $13 million USD to help protect the ecologically fragile grasslands of Brazil — known locally as the Cerrado — from destruction.

The Cerrado is a vast stretch of tropical savanna in the five Brazilian states of Mato Grosso, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Tocantins and Minas Gerais that are also home to much of the country’s farming and ranching. Tesco is one of a growing number of companies and organizations to speak out against the conversion of land in the Cerrado and the Amazon rainforest into pasture and farm land.

Brazil’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation unveiled a report this month showing the destruction of about 11,000 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest this year — a 9.6% increase from last year. That is the highest level of deforestation since 2008. Some of that deforestation is caused by loggers. After the trees are cut down, cattle ranchers often move in and then the land may eventually be turned into fields for crops.

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“We are committed to preventing further Amazon deforestation,” Tesco said in a statement. “That’s why, we do not buy meat from Brazil. We continue to make progress toward our 2020 target of sustainability certification for all our soy. And we’ve committed to do more, setting tougher targets for 2025 to make sure our soy only comes from whole regions that are verified as deforestation-free. We’ve worked to help establish and uphold the Amazon Soy Moratorium and have committed ($13 million) to protect the Cerrado.”

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