Round Table on Responsible Soy Association

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High Conservation Value Areas Project (HCVA) Print E-mail

RTRS is pleased to announce the implementation of the project titled “RTRS broad scale maps and HCV guidance for soy expansion: Multi-stakeholder process”. This project is implemented with the financial support of BACP (BIODIVERSITY AND AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES PROGRAM).




The proposed project supports the implementation of responsible soy production in Brazil, according to RTRS standard, by making operational maps for responsible soy expansion via multi-stakeholder process. Participants in the RTRS are concerned to ensure that responsibly cultivated soy should exclude expansion into natural habitats of special importance for conservation. Reaching agreement on the best way to limit expansion and promote conservation in the RTRS certification standard was a challenging process, but an important one in which producers; industry, conservation organizations and international users of soy products were able to explain their points of view. A complete restriction on expansion of soy cultivation, regardless of previous land cover is unacceptable to some producers, industry and trade so an appropriate mechanism was needed to describe which land types or habitats would be subject to expansion restrictions. Agreement was reached in early 2010 but only on temporary language restricting expansion on forested land, and requiring other land use zoning tools for other ecosystems. As this was only an interim measure, it was agreed that a more nuanced mechanism to develop a categorization and mapping system to support the identification of important areas for conservation was needed, and that this should be developed within two years. This project will deliver such a system. It is intended primarily to serve soy producers seeking RTRS certification, but it has a potentially far wider scope as a tool to protect natural habitats under threat from the expansion of a wide range of other land uses (e.g. other commodity crops, biofuel feedstocks, cattle ranching) building on existing and emerging partnerships between producers, governments and conservation organizations to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable agricultural production.



The overall goal of this project is to reduce the negative impact of soy expansion on high biodiversity ecosystems and areas of high conservation value (environmental or social) in Brazil via the development of a generic methodology and national processes to create broad scale suitability maps and site-scale HCV assessment guidance for responsible soy expansion. The project will provide tools to the RTRS for strengthening their principle mechanism for limiting the expansion of soy into natural habitats. The two main objectives are:


1. To create the methodology and guidance for the development of national broad scale maps that guide responsible expansion of soy production, based on the experience in Brazil; and create the guidance for site-level HCV assessment in RTRS soy production standard.


2. To produce Brazil broad scale maps for responsible expansion of soy production for endorsement by RTRS, guidance for site-level HCV assessment and definition of biodiversity-friendly practices.


The RTRS has developed a video explaining the HCVA project and in which the protagonists recount the scope and objectives of this experience. Please, click the Mapping Project Video for download the video.


For further information, contact the RTRS Secretariat at


Success stories: 


HCVA project success story: Guiding Responsible Soy Expansion in Brazil


HCVA project success story: Rethinking soy expansion in Brazil through a multi-stakeholder process



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