Global sportswear giant Nike is to stop buying leather from the Amazon region of Brazil, following concerns that its shoes and trainers could be contributing to the destruction of the world's largest rainforest and a major driver of climate change.

The decision yesterday (22 July) by the Beaverton, Oregon based firm comes after a June report by campaign group Greenpeace exposed how cattle hides from deforested areas were contaminating the supply chains of a number of global brands including Nike, Clarks, Adidas and Reebok.

The leather is a by-product of meat production, and preparing land for cattle ranching in Brazil is now the biggest driver of deforestation anywhere in the world, Greenpeace says.

In response, Nike has now drawn up new leather sourcing guidelines which it says reinforce its "commitment to the environment."

As part of this, all of its suppliers of Brazilian leather are being asked to establish a full traceability system by July 2010 to track the origins of the leather used in its products and provide reliable proof that any leather used for Nike shoes has not been sourced from recently deforested areas.

They must certify they are "supplying leather for Nike Inc products from cattle raised outside the Amazon biome" and their progress will be reviewed on a quarterly basis.

Nike also wants suppliers to join the industry's Leather Working Group by December 2009.

As well as signing Greenpeace's 'Commit or Cancel' principles which call for a moratorium on deforestation - the sporting goods firm says it would like to see an enforceable certification system set up for all industries involved in the Brazilian meat and leather supply chain.

"Nike has taken a bold step, and now we need to see other companies follow their lead," said Greenpeace forest campaigner Sarah Shoraka.

Click here to read Nike's Amazon leather policy