"More Trees, Fewer Cows" is an initiative by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Re:wild, and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB) aimed at raising awareness and taking action against illegal cattle ranching activities in indigenous territories and protected areas in Mesoamerica. By promoting the concept of "More Trees, Fewer Cows," the goal is to emphasize the importance of forest conservation and highlight the detrimental impact of illegal cattle breeding.
Illegal cattle ranching is the main cause of deforestation in Latin America and is often concealed by illegal activities such as organized crime and drug trafficking. Each year, between 1 and 2 million head of cattle are illegally trafficked from Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.
This impact is reflected in the security, biodiversity, and well-being of indigenous and local communities, as well as in environmental conservation, where indigenous leaders face acts of violence. Additionally, cattle ranching is responsible for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with 65% of these emissions coming from cattle.
With a focus on Mesoamerica, the strategy encompasses everything from replacing cattle ranching in legal but forest-damaging areas to the restoration of degraded areas. The participation of governments, businesses, indigenous peoples, and local communities is crucial to achieve this goal.
Government Responsibility: Governments commit to deforestation-free procurement, regulating and enforcing regulations to ensure the complete absence of cattle ranching in illegal areas.
Corporate Responsibility: Companies undertake the commitment to ensure and demonstrate the traceability of their cattle ranching products, certifying that they come from deforestation-free and conflict-free sources in indigenous territories.
Strengthening Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Mesoamerica: An essential component lies in strengthening indigenous peoples and their capacity to manage and defend their territories. Additionally, we will promote economic activities and food production compatible with climate preservation to ensure sustainable harmony between local practices and environmental conservation.
This list presents viable and appealing options that offer a greener and more sustainable future, both for local communities and our planet.
At New York Climate Week, the "More Trees, Fewer Cows" initiative was presented. The in-person event took place on September 19th at 3:30 pm (New York) / 1:30 pm (Guatemala-Honduras-Nicaragua) at the Central Park Zoo, featuring Elvis Antonio Greham, an indigenous leader who heads the Miskito organization MASTA in Honduras, and Jeremy Radachowsky, Regional Director for WCS Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. They addressed deforestation and security issues threatening forests, biodiversity, and communities.