How ProTerra supports companies to avoid raw materials within their supply chain connected to land use change


Companies that are ProTerra certified are expected to honour the ProTerra Vision and Mission – the international values of respecting human rights and the environment in their daily business.

The ProTerra Standard is owned by the ProTerra Foundation and it is organized in principles, criteria and indicators. Altogether there are ten principles in the ProTerra Standard, being Principle 4 related to Biodiversity conservation, effective environmental management and environmental services, nevertheless, there are several additional indicators related to Biodiversity, marked with a B tag in the Standard.

The Standard

In the ProTerra Standard the indicator 4.1.1 defines that areas of native vegetation cannot be cleared or converted into agricultural areas, or used for industrial or other commercial purposes, after 2008. Companies that do not comply with this core indicator are automatically excluded as organisations have to meet 80% of all indicators, in which all core indicators are included (100% of core indicators, deforestation belongs in this category).

Deforestation is one of the primary causes of climate change. This principle seeks to eradicate the clearing of native vegetation for agriculture. Certified organisations perform comprehensive environmental and social impact assessments to identify risks relating to any large expansion of their activities. Through implementing this principle, businesses will protect natural eco-systems and adhere to governmental and international regulations.

According to the principle 4 of the ProTerra Standard:

For certification under this Standard, areas of native vegetation cannot have been cleared or converted into agricultural areas, or used for industrial or other commercial purposes, after 2008, in particular the following:

  • Primary Forests (for instance, rainforests);
  • Riparian Vegetation;
  • Wetlands;
  • Swamps;
  • Floodplains;
  • Steep slopes;
  • High above-ground carbon stocks, and
  • Other as defined by the High Conservation Values Resource Network (HCV 1 to 6).

How we control

During ProTerra audits, auditors verify compliance with 4.4.1 based on a statistical sample of soy suppliers to soy crushers. Audits on the soy crusher and supply warehouses (critical control points) verify how other soy suppliers in the total group are monitored for compliance. Land use change after 2008 excludes growers from participation in the certified system (Amazon, Cerrado, other biomes or HCV Resources). Verification through satellite imagery is also used by the Certification Body.

Land use change is checked during audits as follows:

Audits on Industrial processor Prior to Audits on Farms Onsite Audits on Farms
Amazon Soy Moratorium verification History of the region, risk verification Interviews with workers
Database of growers with information (where existent) Existence of Indigenous land, HCV near or around the farm location Visual verification of fields and vegetation
Georeferenced reports on suppliers’ farms Existence of national heritage parks near farm location Document of property of land
CAR and geocoordinates of farm


Indicator Source
1 Recent deforestation 2008-2018 Satellite | Prodes | INPE
2 Indigenous lands FUNAI
3 Conservation areas | integral | sustainable use Ministry of Environment
4 Quilombolas (lands of African Brazilians) INCRA
5 Settlements (peasants, agrarian reform) INCRA
6 Shape of embargoes area on map ICMBIO
7 Federal environmental embargo (shape on map) IBAMA
8 Federal environmental embargo (list) IBAMA
9 State environmental embargo (shape on map) Environment State Agencies
10 State environmental embargo (list) Environment State Agencies
11 Analogous to slave labor (dirty list) Ministry of Labor, independent publications

ProTerra stance on land with natural vegetation on fire in the Amazon

Under ProTerra the conversion of land into agriculture must have happened before 2008.

Land areas degraded after 2008, be it for human intervention or natural causes, are not eligible for certification under ProTerra under any circumstances. If land was cleared by a natural fire, for example, vegetation must be restored to its natural state, and not converted to pasture land or agriculture.

ProTerra certified organizations

Although soy is not the direct cause of fires, certification supports companies in mitigating risks in the food and feed supply chain, in meeting market demand and spreading the knowledge that sustainable businesses are long-term profitable businesses.

All companies certified under ProTerra have a traceability system, guaranteeing sustainable sourcing. Each consignment of product sold under ProTerra certification is accompanied by a Traceability Certificate of Compliance (TCC), bearing traceability information of the product.