Your participation is essential to combat deforestation.

In Latin America, cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss.

Often, livestock traceability systems, designed to ensure that they do not come from illegal sources, fail. This is the case in Nicaragua, where traceability is not effective, allowing cattle illegally raised in protected areas and indigenous territories to enter the legal supply chain. This problem results in "illegal" cattle being purchased by foreign companies.

During the investigation for the Patrol documentary, sources passed us evidence showing that a cattle, registered in the national bovine traceability system with the Unique Animal Identification Code 558 004 02 2599, was acquired by Novaterra S.A.

Novaterra is a subsidiary of a Costa Rican company, Grupo CIISA. We have photographs and videos showing this animal being raised on an illegal farm within the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve.

This case highlights critical deficiencies in Nicaragua's animal traceability system. Despite having an official livestock registry, many animals have been found to be illegally relocated to protected areas and indigenous community territories. This situation generates negative incentives that further drive deforestation, putting biodiversity, protected areas, and indigenous territories in Nicaragua at risk.

It is crucial for consumers in Costa Rica to ensure that CIISA Group is aware of these issues in Nicaragua. Grupo CIISA could play a key role in encouraging the Nicaraguan government to address these issues with the seriousness they deserve.

How can you contribute to stopping deforestation?

(1) Send the following message to CIISA Group through its website:

I have read about the cattle with the Unique Animal Identification Code 558 004 02 2599 acquired by Novaterra S.A, a subsidiary of your company. As a Costa Rican consumer, it is important for me to know that Costa Rican companies are working to solve environmental problems. I understand that there are significant problems with the national traceability system in Nicaragua.

Knowing CIISA's efforts to promote sustainability, I want to understand what actions your group is taking to ensure that your operations are not driving illegal deforestation in Nicaragua, and what actions you are taking to ensure that the Government of Nicaragua responds to the deficiencies in its traceability system with the seriousness that the situation deserves.

(2) Learn more about the impact of beef on global deforestation and biodiversity loss:

The Film

Nicaragua is facing an escalating crisis. Illegal cattle ranchers and miners are decimating the Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve — one of the last remaining rainforests in Central America. Deforestation is leading to destruction of biodiversity, traditional ways of life and climate change. Commodities produced on illegally converted lands are finding their way to unsuspecting consumers in the US and other major markets.

The indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples are addressing the threat head on—fighting back to protect their territory and way of life. This is the story of PATROL.

“My children are growing up. I don’t want them to see the trees or animals only in pictures. Man is destroying the jungle in order to make lots of money.

Margarito, Indio-Maiz Forest Ranger

The Issue

The world is at a tipping point on climate change. While fossil fuels are a key driver, deforestation is another.

Every year animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all of the transportation sector, accelerating global warming and putting the future of humanity at risk. Mesoamerica is a biodiversity hotspot; with only 0.5 percent of the world's land surface, the region is home to 7 percent of its biological diversity. The five forests of Mesoamerica are the home of endangered species, such as the jaguar, scarlet macaw, tapir and giant anteater. They are also the home of over 500,000 indigenous and Afro-descendent peoples, whose livelihoods depend on the conservation of these ancient forests. Together, they manage and protect half of the remaining forested area. They need our support. ​In countries like Nicaragua, international demand for beef is the main cause of deforestation. Despite laws that prohibit cattle farms in protected land and beef traceability programs, illegally raised cattle are laundered and sold to slaughterhouses that export beef overseas.

Nicaraguan beef exports to the United States
150000 100000 50000 2005 2010 Frozen beef Fresh or chilled beef Year Tons 2015 2020 0
map showing routes of beef from Nicaragua to United States

Where Nicaraguan beef goes into the U.S.

A Case in Point

Huts surrounded by fog
In March 2017, Rama and Kriol rangers found a large illegal cattle farm in the heart of the Indio Maíz Reserve, including:

• 1,400 hectares of deforested land.

• Over 70 young breeding bulls for export.

• Livestock with tags registered in the National Traceability System and ready to be sold to slaughterhouses that export beef. ​

An investigation by Nicaraguan journalists discovered that the farm is owned by José Solís Duron, a cattle rancher with family ties to a high-level official within Nicaragua’s judicial system. Known as La Haciendita, the illegal farm revealed the failings of Nicaragua's supposed beef traceability system and the complicity of government institutions with illegal cattle ranchers. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

As a result of the land grabs, 62 indigenous rangers and community members have been killed since 2013 and thousands have been displaced from their homes. However, the communities continue to fight back.


Number of environmental activists killed around the world, 2012-22
Source: Global Witness
Cattle surrounded by fog

The Solution

Without raising the alarm and taking action, the situation in Nicaragua will only get worse.

Together, we can help stop the sale of commodities affiliated with deforestation from Nicaragua to the US by demanding greater transparency and stricter controls to beef supply chains iIn Nicaragua; by supporting the Forest Act; by exerting pressure on the Nicaraguan government to safeguard protected forests and make supply chains truly transparent; and by bringing greater awareness to importers and consumers of the origins of Nicaraguan beef and the impact of individual dietary choices.

“Four, five years back, we used to go way up the Indian River, and there were no people. But starting two years ago, we find people. And after this year, the whole place is full of people.”

Armando, Indio-Maiz Forest Ranger

Take Action

Together, we can help create a movement to stop the sale of beef affiliated to deforestation from Nicaragua to the US and other markets. By doing so, we can safeguard the lives of the Rama-Kriol and other indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, preserve precious biodiversity and protect the planet. 

Here are four things you can do now.

Support indigenous and Afro-descendent communities.


Demand greater transparency and stricter controls of Nicaragua’s beef supply chains.


Push for approval of the US Forest Act to stop the import of goods associated with deforestation.


Bring greater awareness to importers and consumers of the origins of Nicaraguan beef and the impact of individual dietary choices.