The RSR is an online tool to guide landowners through the key criterion of Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) certification, stressing economically viable production practices that adhere to appropriate social and environmental standards. Specifically used for collecting, managing, and utilizing environmental data to design management plans, the RSR holds an environmental snapshot of each property. At the start of the project, Aliança da Terra worked to build the RSR, and then identified 30 properties to participate in a pilot test. Aliança visited each property to conduct land-owner interviews and record data on native vegetation, water, soil, waste and waste management, infrastructure, production, and property boundaries. Aliança used the data to create maps, from which they build a Social-Environmental Diagnostic (SED) for each property. The SED identified areas where land was being stewarded well or poorly. Aliança technicians used the SED to work with property owners to develop a Social-Environmental Compliance Plan (SCP) to gradually improve management of the property. Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM) technical staff visit each property one year after SCP development to see what progress has been made.
To further increase visibility and value of the RSR, AT launched an annual symposium for participating producers to share their experiences, as well as to expand the number of producers registered in the RSR. As a way to recognize and incentivize the producers that committed to and invested in responsible production-in particular those that developed socio-environmental practices as a result of their participation in the RSR-AT also created the Annual Producing Right Prize and Award Ceremony.
One hundred eighty of the properties in RSR, or 1.5 million hectares, are located in the Amazon biome. Recognizing that more than 50% of this area is forested land and thus has the potential to be involved in the carbon market, Aliança looked to leverage the RSR to help rural producers enter this market. To this end, AT worked to develop a Carbon Monitoring and Accounting System (CMAS) to be included in the RSR that would quantify the cost of ecosystem services (i.e. carbon inventories, sequestration rates in reforested areas, and other potential revenue streams) on a property level basis. As a first step, they reviewed frameworks and protocols related to the carbon market that would allow for the structuring of a CMAS. AT then created this tool, piloted it in Agrovás/Carajás Farm, and developed a plan for integrating it into the RSR.
Aliança’s third activity was to look for possible biodiversity indicators to incorporate into RSR standards. While the RSR addresses vegetation improvement, fire control, pollution control, responsible labor conditions, soil conservation, and now carbon through the CMAS, biodiversity was not directly incorporated directly into the criteria. With the support of a senior advisor on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) activities and carbon markets, AT undertook a scoping study for biodiversity-related projects. This study concluded by providing recommendations for improving or enhancing the RSR standards to incorporate biodiversity objectives. In partnership with the scientific institutions Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and fellow-grantee IPAM, AT then developed a set of biodiversity indexes, which they subsequently integrated into their Registry and various reports.
The RSR now has a waiting list 100 properties long, showing Aliança's great success in building a plan that has gained popularity in the Xingu River Basin through its promise to increase the income of participating producers while helping them respect social and environmental values. By the end of 2011, five properties that participated in RSR had achieved RTRS certification, and Aliança was enacting steps to continue improving and growing the program.