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Pasto Vivo, Brazil

  • Definition
    Devising project idea, defining the aim and main components
  • Design
    Specifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
  • Financing
    Searching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
  • Implementation
    Execution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
  • Maintenance
    Operational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
  • Scaling Up
    Scaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.

When we think about cattle ranching in Brazil, we usually don’t tend to relate it to sustainability. The Pasto Vivo project serves to demonstrate it can be done differently, and will create knowledge and raise awareness on how integrating regenerative practices can transform cattle farming to the benefit of both farmers and the planet. With an all-star team, we bundle expertise in research, impact assessment, investments, business, holistic cattle management and agroforestry. Together, we will create a financially viable regenerative project with quantifiable impact. 

Traditional cattle ranching: Not particularly sustainable nor resilient

In Brazil – the largest beef exporter in the world – cattle ranching has been identified as a major driver of deforestation, land degradation, and a threat to the country’s precious biodiversity and ecosystems. Cattle ranching also threatens the Cerrado ecoregion, a vast tropical savanna partly located within the Mato Grosso state. Continuing traditional cattle ranching could contribute to the loss of 15 million hectares of forest by 2030.

Traditional cattle ranching is inefficient in terms of land use, whilst forest reserve (a mandatory percentage of 35% of native coverage on farms under the Brazilian forest code) is underenforced. Further, cattle ranchers face the challenges of global warming whilst increasingly high temperatures and severe dry seasons hinder cattle growth rates. In the worst case, global warming could increase the production cost of Brazilian beef by as much as 160%.

Global warming could increase the production cost of Brazilian beef by as much as 160%: one good reason to fundamentally change cattle ranching in Brazil is to make it more resilient.

Traditional cattle ranching in Brazil also largely contributes to global warming. One research from 2012 estimated that cattle ranching in Brazil is responsible for approximately half of all Brazilian emissions, even without emissions from within the whole food chain. The carbon footprint of farms in Mato Grosso ranged from 4.8 to 8.2 kilograms of CO2 equivalents per kilogram of live weight. As a comparison, the carbon footprint of the average European petrol or diesel vehicle is 0.2 kilograms of CO2 per kilometer driven.

But, it can be done differently. “It’s the how, not the cow”. Clearly, there is a great need for a new form of cattle ranching, halting and reversing deforestation and climate change trends whilst ensuring profitability for farmers.

Our solution: Promoting regenerative cattle ranching

We want to show that cattle ranching can become economically and ecologically sustainable by transitioning to regenerative practices. To do so, the Pasto Vivo project consists of three major components:

1) Developing agroforestry: the development of a productive agroforestry model for the 35% of mandatory forest
2) Implementing silvopastures: the implementation of an integrated silvopasture system (integrating cattle and trees) by adding more trees to the grassland
3) Applying holistic management: the application of holistic, regenerative managed grazing practices for the cattle

Caryocar brasiliense, better known as pequi, is a typical Cerrado fruit. The native tree is used by rural populations as well as industry. There is a need for more sustainable management of these types of native foods, one way could be integrating them into agroforestry and silvopastoral systems. The trees also contribute to carbon sequestration.

Agroforestry, silvopasture, and holistic management: Healthy cows, pastures, and forests

Regenerative practices on the forest plot as well as the pastures themselves will protect and foster soil quality and its ability to infiltrate and retain water and store carbon. Trees too will benefit the local climate and provide shade for cows increasing their well-being during the dry season. Biodiversity will be supported through greater diversification of plants as well as managed grazing practices and through the provision of relevant ecosystem services. 

Healthy cows, pastures, and forests provide higher returns

Through application of these regenerative practices, animal well-being and growth are enhanced which increases their economic value. Cattle are managed in a way that optimises the regrowth of grass at the highest rates, enabling more efficient use of land and an increase in cattle headcount per area. Further, a diverse range of produce from tree products may provide additional income and food sources for farmers. 

Walking through Pasto Vivo’s forests, one can immediately experience one benefit of the trees: their shading. This is one of the benefits of silvopastoral systems: reduced stress on cattle and increased animal wellbeing, which also increases their economic value. 

50-100 ha

project area

25,000 ha

potential area

More CO2

per ha per year

Bundling of expertise to generate impact

To show how cattle ranching can become regenerative for the benefit of ecology and economy, we cooperate with Meraki Impact, the Luxor Group, the Savory Institute, Pretaterra and Embrapa. With this team, we bundle a diverse range of expertise in research, impact assessment, investments, business, and agroforestry. Together, the team will create a financially viable, regenerative project with quantifiable impact. 

Field visit of reNature’s Felipe and Leandro to the Pasto Vivo farm.

Scaling after success: becoming an international example

After a successful first intervention, these approaches are to be upscaled to 1,200 ha (the entire farm) and possibly to the full project area of 25,000 ha. The ultimate aim of the project is to become an international reference for regenerative, financially viable, and carbon positive cattle ranching in Brazil.


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