New CRR Report on the Brazilian State of Tocantins: A Hotspot for Cerrado Deforestation

The Brazilian state of Tocantins is the latest hotspot for soy- and cattle-related deforestation. In 2018, more land was cleared there than in any other state of the Brazilian Cerrado, a large tropical savanna biome that covers more than 20 percent of Brazil. Overall Cerrado deforestation rates have declined in recent years, but Tocantins continues to see high rates of forest loss. Soy sourced from Tocantins carries a high risk of being connected with legal and illegal land clearing. A close monitoring of the implementation of zero-deforestation commitments may mitigate risks for traders, investors and end-users of agricultural commodities from Tocantins.


Key findings of the report:

  • In 2018, more forest was cleared in Tocantins than in any other Cerrado state. Tocantins is a sparsely populated rural state in central Brazil. Tocantins deforestation of 153,320 ha contributed to 23 percent of total forest loss in the Cerrado in 2018.
  • The soy and beef markets drive deforestation in Tocantins. Soy plays a key role in the Tocantins’ economy, due to a favorable climatic and political environment. Between 2008-2017, 947,287 ha of natural forest formations were transformed for soy cultivation and livestock pasture.
  • The key supply chain actors in Tocantins are cattle ranchers and soy traders. The largest private landowners in Tocantins are active in the soy and livestock sectors, and they are often involved in local and national politics. All major soy traders operate in Tocantins.
  • Soy sourced from Tocantins carries a high risk of being linked to legal and illegal deforestation. Case studies reveal that soy production in the municipalities Lagoa de Confusão and Campos Lindos may be linked to illegal deforestation, environmental fines, embargoed areas, land disputes, and slave labor. Glencore and Cargill are the main soy traders in these municipalities. Cattle from deforested farms could be linked to JBS’ and Masterboi’s slaughterhouses.
  • Key soy traders, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, and Cofco, and major beef retailers, such as Carrefour, Cencosud and Casino/Grupo Pão de Açucar, may therefore face elevated deforestation risks in their supply chains. Strengthening zero-deforestation commitments and their strict implementation may mitigate such risks. This could include disclosure of supply chain data, indirect supply chain tracking, stricter enforcement of non-compliance mechanisms, and continuous monitoring of land use change, both legal and illegal.


Go to the CRR website to read the full report or download the PDF-version.

For more information, please contact Tim Steinweg.