By now, there is no source available that provides an adequate overview of all relevant sustainability aspects for agriculture and forestry at a glance.
The term Sustainable agriculture can be defined as the act of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term" For example:
- Satisfy human food and fiber needs
- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
- Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole
(Gold, M. (July 2009). What is Sustainable Agriculture?. United States Department of Agriculture, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center)
Basic idea of the GRAS Index is to unite any sustainability indicator that is relevant for the assessment of agricultural products and their sustainable origin.
Though this idea is not generally unique and innovative the approach to compile data and directly address agricultural and forestry applications is yet unknown nonetheless. For example, auditors of agricultural products applying for sustainability certification have to gather sustainability information about the origin area from varying sources as sustainability is rather interdisciplinary. By addressing different ecological aspects such as biodiversity, land use change, carbon stocks, water etc. and social aspects such as food security, labor rights etc. a broad of range of indices have to be identified.
Many stakeholders, such as certification bodies, auditors, companies, investors as well as authorities and NGOs have a strong interest in assessing the actual risk for sustainability of agricultural or forestry production.
Measurable or at least indicators that can be expressed as numerical value from biodiversity, land use change, carbon stock and social indices may serve as a valuable support for the assessment of sustainability criteria. GRAS evaluates and gathers numerous of such indicators and provides these on its website once an indicator is regarded as suitable for the purpose of reliable sustainability assessment. Even more, GRAS has developed a couple of new methodologies in order to identify land use change on agricultural areas. However, yet no overall score for the assessment of sustainability exists. The GRAS-Index is capable of just that: gathering and merging all relevant data and displaying the overall score as a simple and easy-to-use value that can be displayed to a region or a whole country.
Learn more about the GRAS Index methodology.
News and events
GRAS Fire Alert online now
The new GRAS Fire Alert function is now available for Indonesia and countries in South America. Beside the visualization of latest and historical fires within the tool, the user can now register for an e-mail alert. The user will be informed based on daily updates, in case a fire was identified within an area individually defined by himself.
January 11th 2017
GRAS article in ITC News
GRAS wrote an article in ITC News (2017-2), the alumni magazine of the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente. The article presents how GRAS provides solutions for a fact-based, objective and credible sustainability reporting and the support of efficient and reliable sustainability certification. The magazine contains results of an interdisciplinary workshop in Enschede, Netherlands.
January 10th 2017
GRAS Fire Tool
The new fire tool will be available soon in the GRAS Tool. Fires can be identified easily within your area of interest and for the time period you are interested in. The data will be available for Indonesia and updated on a daily basis. Other countries will follow soon.
September 21st 2017
New countries available soon
New countries will be added to the GRAS Tool soon. Data on Land Use Change, Biodiversity, Carbon Stock and Social Data will be available for USA, Australia and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
September 21st 2017
GRAS is mentioned in an article of the recent issue of Biofuels International. The article presents how GRAS is used by the well-established certification scheme for support of its Integrity Program. The full article can be found here.
March 15th 2017
GRAS at the COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh
Marrakesh, November 12th 2016.
How business can tackle deforestation
GRAS is co-sponsoring the conference "How business can tackle deforestation", which will take place in Washington DC on April 3rd-4th 2017. The conference will provide practical guidance for the development and implementation of zero deforestation policies for business. More information can be found here.
Washington DC, April 3rd-4th 2017
Geo-Information for Palm Oil
GRAS has co-organized the workshop "Geo-information for palm oil" at the Insitut of Computer Science of the University of Osnabrück. The workshop discussed the use of SAR remote sensing data in the palm oil research. More information can be found here.
Osnabrück, February 8th 2017
Copernicus Master 2016
GRAS for sustainable palm oil production
GRAS and its strategic role for supporting sustainable palm oil production are presented in the article "Sustainability as a Success Factor for Palm Oil Producers Supplying the European Vegetable Markets" in the issue Vol. 16(1) 2016 of the Peer Reviewed Journal Oil Palm Industry Economic Journal (OPIEJ).
GRAS for sustainable biofuels
GRAS has presented on the fifth annual seminar of "Sustainability of Biofuels" of the German Association for Bioenergy (BBE) and the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP).
Berlin, November 17th 2016.
GRAS as easy tool for identification of land use change
GRAS is mentioned in an article in Biofuels International discussing the successful implementation of EU policy in the sustainability certification of biofuels for the EU market. In particular, in the article is described how auditors and companies can access GRAS to detect land use change, verify the protection of no-go areas and implement no-deforestation commitments.
GRAS at EEB's Action for Nature Conference in Brussels
GRAS has given a presentation on "The Use of Satellite Imagery and Remote Sensing" at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Conference Action for Nature to be held in Brussels. The presentation will be part of the session "Better Enforcement of EU Environmental Laws".
Brussels, September 14th 2016.
Advantages of GRAS in the cosmetics and detergents sector
GRAS is presented in the article "Deforestation-free and traceable supply chains for the production of sustainable surfactants" in the July/August issue of the International Peer Reviewed Journal Household and Personal Care Today.
GRAS at EEB Annual Conference 2016 in Vienna
Vienna, September 26th 2016.
How companies can implement and monitor their no-deforestation commitments
GRAS is presented in an article of eco-business as a possible solution for companies to implement and monitor their zero-deforestation commitments. The GRAS Tool provides comprehensive sustainability-related information on biodiversity, carbon stock, land use change and social indices.
GRAS as a tool to guarantee sustainable bioenergy
GRAS is presented in an article in the EU Bioenergy blog discussing the verification and monitoring of sustainable biomass production. The GRAS Tool is described as one of the solutions to guarantee that biomass is produced sustainably and that biodiveristy and carbon stock areas are protected.
How does GRAS work?
Get to know GRAS better and learn what it can do for you and your business.