Recent deforestation in SLC Agricola’s farm Palmares 

Apr 2024

Author: Marco Garcia, Deforestation-free supply chains team 

AidEnvironment’s real-time deforestation monitoring (RDM) system has detected a recent clearing inside SLC Agricola’s Fazenda Palmares located in Barreiras municipality, Bahia state, Brazil. This farm and an earlier case of native vegetation loss linked to a fire event have been reported by AidEnvironment and included in Earthsight’s recently published Fashion Crimes investigation.  

The recent clearing, initiated in January of the current year, took place in a previously burned area reported by AidEnvironment in RDM report 7, in November 2022. At the time, SLC Agricola’s reply to the findings gathered in the report stated that “the detected forest fires did not have a connection with deforestation or conversion of natural areas”. However, two years after, there is evidence of clearance in those same areas in the southern part of Fazenda Palmares. See image below, covering approximately 50 hectares of clearance between January and February 2024. 

 Left image: Portion of Fazenda Palmares located in Barreiras municipality, Bahia, Brazil. Right image: Zoomed image into the recently cleared area in the southern part of the farm.
Source: Planet monthly mosaic March 2024. Imagery ©2024 Planet Labs Inc. 

Earthsight’s Fashion Crimes investigation shows the links between SLC Agricola’s industrial scale agriculture deforestation in the Cerrado biome and the use of cotton produced in that biome by the world’s largest fashion brands, H&M and Zara. The NGO has referred to this specific RDM case study in the investigation as one of the examples linking the company to native vegetation clearings in the Cerrado biome in the last 12 years. In a reply provided to Deutsche Welle regarding the case of Fazenda Palmares developed by AidEnvironment, and cited in Earthsight’s investigation, SLC Agricola has stated that the destruction detected was caused by “a natural fire, and not to open new areas for production”.  Even though this area was razed by the fire event reported in RDM 7 without clear evidence at the time of further use as an area of production, the current findings challenge this scenario and SLC Agricola’s statements. The potential regeneration of the burned area to a similar previous state has been undermined by the land use change (into an agricultural production area) that is verified in the images collected.   

Moreover, SLC Agricola committed in 2021, through a Zero Deforestation Policy, to not convert areas with native vegetation for agricultural use. These recent developments in Fazenda Palmares contradict this commitment.  

 AidEnvironment continues to produce Realtime Deforestation Monitoring research that will inform further analyses on disputed findings.