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
Honduras now available in the GRAS Tool
Honduras is now available in GRAS. The dataset includes layers on Land Use Change, Biodiversity, Carbon Stock and Social Data. GRAS will add more countries in Central America and other world regions soon.
March 13th 2018
We cordially invite you to join the free webinar on how to “Implement and Monitor Deforestation-Free Supply Chains” with GRAS, taking place on 13 March 2018, 10:00 am (CET) and 5:00 pm (CET). The webinar will give you an insight on new functionalities of GRAS, outline recent case studies and give the attendants the chance to ask their questions. Register for the webinar here.
March 2nd 2018
Addressing the sustainability of sugarcane
In the recent issue of Biofuels International, GRAS is presented as a secure and credible solution provider for companies to prove compliance with national and international sustainability regulations and corporate commitments. The article shows how GRAS can be used to identify deforestation and grassland conversion and determine the exact point in time the land use change took place. The full article can be found here.
February 27th 2018
Sub-national data on Acute Food Insecurity now online for the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Food Security Classification data of FEWS NET (Famine Early Warning Systems Network) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now available in GRAS. The dataset includes near and medium term projections, and is updated on a monthly basis.
February 21st 2018
Colombia, South Africa and Peru now available in the GRAS Tool
GRAS added Colombia, South Africa and Peru to the Web Tool. The datasets include layers on Land Use Change, Biodiversity, Carbon Stock and Social Data. More countries will follow soon.
January 31st 2018
GHG values for canola cultivation in Australia and Canada now online
GHG emission values for canola cultivation in Australia and Canada, officially acknowledged by the European Commission, are now available in GRAS. The values have been published in the Commission Implementing Decisions (EU) 2017/2356 and (EU) 2017/2379, respectively.
January 29th 2018
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 2018
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 2018
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