Protecting Brazil’s forests
Nuveen’s zero deforestation policy reflects commitment to long-term stewardship
Nuveen understands long term investment horizons, holding many of our assets for decades. Accordingly, we strive to demonstrate sound environmental stewardship in our practices, whether in our pre-acquisition due diligence or in our post-acquisition management practices, including encouraging impartial, third-party certification of our sustainability efforts.
In pursuing this work, we are keenly aware of factors that threaten not only agricultural productivity but also the earth’s overall health. One of these factors — deforestation — is very troubling because forests sequester prodigious quantities of carbon, making them necessary to limit global temperature increases and changes in climate.
Deforestation is a particular concern in regions where agricultural development is occurring very quickly, such as in South America. Nuveen works to protect against deforestation in the region by avoiding recently deforested areas when we acquire new farmland. We adhere to the Brazilian Forest Code, which protects forests on private properties and encourages restoration of legal reserves for native reservations. We also protect more than 226,000 acres of native vegetation in Brazil.
As a further demonstration of our commitment to good stewardship, in 2018 Nuveen adopted a Zero Deforestation Policy for our farmland assets in Brazil. The Policy introduces deforestation cut-off dates for five biomes in Brazil and aims to ensure that our investments do not encourage the depletion of forested areas and native vegetation on owned land or land to be acquired.
We have integrated this Policy into our investment due diligence process. We use satellite-based mapping technologies, combined in some circumstances with biomass measurement information, to determine if a plot of land adheres to the Policy. A third party conducts the analysis and provides results to Nuveen.
Sustainability by the numbers: Brazil
Acres of land preserved by Westchester in Brazil as Areas of Permanent Preservation and Legal Reserves (approx.)
Native trees planted on Westchester properties in Brazil.
- 4.5x France
Size of protected areas within rural private properties in Brazil
Square miles of protected areas within rural private properties in Brazil, an area roughly 4.5 times the size of France. The protected land’s value is estimated to be nearly $800 billion USD.
A look inside: Zero deforestation policy
Nuveen’s Zero Deforestation Policy is one example of a continued commitment to sustainable land management and a direct contribution to SDG 15 — by avoiding deforestation, increasing afforestation and reforestation and halting biodiversity loss. Nuveen implements the Policy in Brazil, which is working to curb deforestation levels that were once the world’s highest.
The Policy is customized to five biomes in Brazil based on the distinct characteristics of each. We are committed to refraining from acquiring land that has been cleared of native vegetation after the dates in the table at right. These dates reflect relevant deforestation protocols such as the Soy Moratorium Protocol and Grãos Verdes Protocol. The Policy also aligns with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Brazilian Forest Code and other Brazilian federal laws that protect natural resources.
Going above and beyond
Catuaí Norte farm, purchased by Westchester in 2013, has a total area of 44,045 acres in the Cerrado biome. About 45% of the farm is covered in native vegetation, of which 38% is registered as a Legal Reserve to meet the government’s preservation requirements. Technically, this means that an additional 3,012 acres of the farm’s natural vegetation could be cleared while still complying with the law. However, due to Nuveen’s Zero Deforestation Policy, this area — 7% of the total acreage — will not be converted to cropland. We are being true to our Policy.
In the satellite image, the area just to the right of center — labeled Extra preserved vegetation — is where Westchester is refraining from cultivating in keeping with Nuveen’s Zero Deforestation Policy.