It can be difficult growing up in your big sister’s shadow, which may be how Brazil’s Cerrado savanna feels.

Covering a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is one of the world’s most important ecosystems, yet it’s far less well-known than its neighbor to the north, the Amazon rainforest.

For more than 30 years, the Amazon has been the poster-forest for the environmental movement. And deforestation in the Amazon is largely slowing down. Unfortunately, however, the Cerrado continues to lose ground to expanding beef and soy production, plus other commodities and infrastructure. In fact, losses in the Cerrado have been greater than those in the Amazon for the past decade.

Fortunately, there’s hope on the horizon. On Jan. 25, 61 of the world’s largest food companies committed to working to halt deforestation in the Cerrado. This builds on previous commitments that these and other companies are implementing to protect the Amazon and other forests. The companies’ new commitment was inspired by the joint Cerrado Manifesto, which WWF developed with Greenpeace in Brazil, and was signed by 60 leading Brazilian researchers and social and environmental organizations in September.

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