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K-State Today

August 17, 2023

Villoria recognized with Top MapBiomas Research Award

Submitted by Mary Bowen

Nelson Villoria, associate professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University, alongside coauthors Rachael Garrett, Florian Gollnow and Kim Carlson, has been honored with the distinguished MapBiomas Research Award

Their study, "Leakage does not fully offset soy supply-chain efforts to reduce deforestation in Brazil," published in Nature Communications, secured first place in the general category — the top prize awarded by MapBiomas.

MapBiomas is a Brazil-based initiative formed through collaboration between nongovernmental organizations, universities and technology startups focused on generating land cover and land use information to promote conservation efforts. The distinction that Villoria and his coauthors have received is part of the Fifth Edition of the Mapbiomas Research Award. This edition attracted 163 submissions from seven countries. The award aims to stimulate applications and projects that leverage data produced by MapBiomas. From this competitive pool, eight exceptional works emerged as exemplars of advancing knowledge and driving positive change, highlighting the significance of collaborative research.

The winning study delves into the intricate dynamics of zero-deforestation supply chain policies within Brazil's soy sector. Driven by rapid commodity expansion and weak forest governance, the study assesses the impact of these policies on curbing deforestation. Findings underscore the effectiveness of these policies in forest conservation efforts, even as they reveal potential challenges from deforestation leakage, whereby deforestation pressures shift to other regions with weaker governance.

The study showcases that while domestic leakage offsets a significant portion of avoided deforestation, cross-border leakage remains minimal due to soybean production relocating to existing U.S. farmland. Notably, the research demonstrates how eliminating deforestation from supply chains exporting Brazilian soy to significant importers like the EU and China could substantially impact global and Brazilian deforestation rates.

Villoria's recognition underlines K-State's dedication to impactful research that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Villoria and his coauthors' contributions provide valuable insights into the economics of sustainable global food systems.

For comprehensive details about this award-winning research and its significance, visit mapbiomas.org/premio.