AGRICULTURA Área de plantação de soja em Goiás. © Aline Leão/TNC

Stories in Brazil

Restoring Degraded Landscapes in the Cerrado

The first phase of the Reverte Program, implemented by Syngenta in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), has been completed.

The Reverte Program was launched in 2019 to foster the restoration of degraded pastureland in the Cerrado and accommodate the projected expansion of soy and other crops sustainably and profitably and avoid new conversion of native vegetation. The design of the Program was inspired by the collective effort of 48 representatives of institutions such as banks, trading companies, rural producers, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), and the academy.

Forty-eight participants contributed to developing the Reverte pillars and objectives in 2019.


Soy came to occupy a prominent place in the country's production and export agenda, reaching approximately 30% of global production, corresponding to 137 million tons in the 2020/21 harvest, according to the National Supply Company (CONAB). Half of that production is concentrated in the Cerrado, a region of immeasurable natural value due to its water reserve and biodiversity. Estimates are that the area with soy crops in Brazil, which currently total 40.4 Mha, will expand by 10.3 Mha by 2030 to meet the growing global demand (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA)/2021). That could lead to the conversion of more than 2.2 Mha of native vegetation (TNC/2020).

Ensuring soy production's sustainable growth will require increased productivity and expansion into already-cleared areas that today are mostly occupied by degraded pasturelands. The sustainable intensification of livestock production and product diversification in rural properties may optimize land use to accommodate the projected soybean expansion without the conversion of native-vegetation areas. Increasing livestock-chain productivity and ensuring coexistence with local and traditional communities in the territories are additional benefits.

That context presents a unique opportunity, given global challenges to ensure food security and tackle climate change. In the Cerrado, there are approximately 18.5 Mha of already-cleared land suitable for soy crops. Of those, 7 Mha have some degree of soil degradation (TNC/2020). That indicates enough land to accommodate the expected soy expansion without advancing over native vegetation, creating a real opportunity for progress regarding sustainable development and the consolidation of a low-carbon economy in Brazil.

The Reverte Program was created to support rural producers in recovering degraded areas through an integrated solution that involves good agricultural practices, financial tools, and input-use protocols that make fertilizers and seeds to machinery and pesticides appropriate for growing soy and other intercropped harvests. Through partnerships that share the same objectives, the Program also seeks to strengthen pre-existing projects that can contribute to the evolution and scale of regenerative agriculture in the Cerrado.

 "The development of financial incentives and new technologies is fundamental to support the expansion of agriculture production without conversion of native vegetation. Through partnerships, TNC seeks to develop strategies and systemic solutions that make it possible to increase production with environmental conservation," emphasizes Rodrigo Spuri, TNC Brazil's Conservation Director.


Launching of the Guide for the Recovery of Degraded Lands in the Cerrado

TNC, in partnership with Embrapa and the Northern Export Corridor Research Foundation (FAPCEN) and with support from the Crop Livestock Forest Integration Network (ILPF), launched the Guide for the Recovery of Degraded Lands in the Cerrado. ]

In addition to helping producers understand the soil degradation process, the Guide suggests alternatives to restore degraded pasturelands, by implementing practices such as integrated agricultural systems (like Crop Livestock Forest Integration) and integrated pest management. Users of the Guide will be able to consult several references to help them make strategic decisions. Click here to see a video of the launching event and here to access the Guide.