The World Cup of Football and the World
Cup of Life
of the world’s population –especially males– will spend the coming
weeks glued to the TV as the FIFA World Cup unfolds. While many
are fully aware that this is no longer a mere sporting event,
but rather a massive globalized business in which the players
are little more than disposable gladiators at the service of big
corporations, they are still drawn to keep watching, celebrating
the victories and suffering the defeats as if they were their
this is because football is one of the very few domains in the
world today that appears to offer equal opportunities to all,
where 11 men from one country are pitted against 11 men from another,
and the economic, political or military power of their respective
nations off the field have no bearing. In a world dominated
by the powerful –in the South as well
as in the North– this sense of equality that characterizes football
is almost unique, and perhaps what is most compelling about this
international championship. After all, this is a contest in which
the countries of the so-called Third World have emerged triumphant
more often than the countries of the industrialized North: Brazil
has won an unprecedented 5 World Cups, Argentina 2, Uruguay 2,
Germany 3, Italy 3, England 1 and France 1. Final score: South
9 – North 8.
while the fictional world of the World Cup moves forward, awakening
hopes, joys and heartaches, the real world continues to develop
on a playing field that is overwhelmingly uneven, where economic,
political and military power prevail and “fair play” is notoriously
the case of Ecuador, one of the teams that sparked rising expectations
after its first two games in Germany. In real life, Ecuador the
country has been taking a thrashing for years. Of course, the
referee – in this case, the government – has usually only red
carded the representatives of the people, while national and international
corporations are shown a yellow card at the very most. It has
punished the people for non-existent fouls and offsides, but turned
a blind eye to blatant penalty fouls by the business sector. The
equivalent of FIFA in this case –the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund– have permanently sanctioned Indigenous, Afroecuadorian
and poor players, while obliging successive referees to impose
rules that favour the business team. The results can be illustrated
in scores like the following:
companies 10 – Indigenous peoples of the Amazon 5
companies 8 – Forest peoples 3
farming companies 5 – Afroecuadorians in mangrove regions 2
palm companies 6 – Indigenous and Afroecuadorians 1
planting companies 5 – Indigenous and Afroecuadorians 3
every area, the Ecuadorian people are losing. Nevertheless, it
should be kept in mind that the goals scored by the people – including
a few stunning goals – have been relatively recent. In the meantime,
the business sector has scored very few goals in recent years,
and has been forced onto the defensive. The referee has even occasionally
begun to hand out penalties to business players (as in the recent
case of the Oxy oil company, whose contract in Ecuador was cancelled)
or to overlook fouls committed by the people (like another recent
case where local communities cut down eucalyptus trees on a plantation
owned by the Japanese consortium Eucapacific). Even “FIFA” itself
appears to be looking the other way.
It is also worth
noting that the Ecuadorian team’s fans slogan is “Yes we can!”,
and that the chant shouted by its fans is “Let’s go Ecuadorians,
tonight we have to win!” Interestingly enough, the same slogans
and chants were used in the demonstrations to overthrow the president.
On the final night of the demonstrations, protestors took to the
streets shouting “Let’s go Ecuadorians, tonight he has to fall!”
And the president fell. Gooooaaaaal!
has now been eliminated from the World Cup by England, but in
the match for life, the people are moving in an increasingly organized
formation towards their opponents’ side of the field and scoring
some remarkable goals. Playing from behind, the Ecuadorian people
are gradually narrowing the score. A team of indigenous, mixed-race
and Afroecuadorians, men and women, elders and children. Playing
the game by their own rules. And most importantly of all, fuelled
by their hopes in the possibility of victory. As they say: Yes
COMMUNITIES AND FORESTS
Cambodia: World Bank Inspection Panel findings
Slam Bank Forestry Project
leaked World Bank Inspection Panel  report heavily criticises
the Bank’s own forest management project in Cambodia for breaking
internal safeguards, ignoring local communities and failing to
reduce poverty, says Global Witness, a
non-partisan international non-governmental
organisation --co-nominated for the
2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in uncovering how diamonds
have funded civil wars across Africa-- focused on the links between
the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict
forests covered 73 % of the country in 1971, but were decimated
in the wake of the civil war by illegal and unsustainable logging.
In the early 1990s the Cambodian government secretly awarded 32
logging concessions areas to private companies, many of them foreign-owned.
Most of these firms went on to engage in illegal and unsustainable
logging in pursuit of short-term profits. The rationale for the
concession system was a steady source of revenue that could be
used for Cambodia’s development; yet between 1994
and 2000 the government collected only $92 million in timber royalties.
Over the same period companies, politicians and the military made
enormous profits through illegal logging.
Asian Development Bank review in 2000 described this concession
regime as ‘a total system failure’. That same year however
the World Bank launched a $5 million Forest Concession Management
and Control Pilot Project (FCMCPP) aimed at demonstrating that
the concession system could work. The project focused on helping
the concessionaires meet government requirements for new sustainable
forest management plans (SFMPs) and environmental and social impact
assessments (ESIAs) as a prerequisite for further logging. For
the project to realise its objectives, the Bank needed the concession
system and at least some of the companies to remain in place.
It was in this context that the FCMCPP recommended the Cambodian
government accept the SFMPs and ESIAs of six concessionaires in
2004. All six firms had broken
the law or the terms of their contracts. Some were a front for
the interests of relatives of senior officials.
communities lodged a complaint with the Bank’s Inspection Panel
in 2005, after it became clear the Bank’s project was exacerbating,
not improving the situation. These communities saw the
project as promoting the interests of companies that had already
damaged their livelihoods. In the event, the Panel’s findings
do not condemn the focus on the concession system per se, but
do conclude that the project “did not seem to take on the
key objective of using the potential of forests to reduce poverty”.
complaint to the Panel also claimed the project had several other
serious flaws in its planning and implementation. According to
Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director: “The findings of the Inspection
Panel reveal the extent to which the Bank was prepared to break
its own regulations in pursuit of project success.’’
a damning report, the Panel finds the Bank overrode several of
its own safeguard policies in several areas – its comments are
in development of management plans. The project
allowed concession companies to take charge of consultations
with communities over the future of forest use. “The idea that
the concession holders would manage community consultations
or resource assessments is a very serious flaw, especially given
that the forest concessions were exploiting a resource which
rural poor people…relied upon for an important part of their
Assessments. The Bank misclassified areas of forest –
allowing areas of high ecological value to be used for commercial
logging. “There is no doubt that the Prey Long forest merits
consideration as a forest of high ecological value, and this
should have been obvious to Bank Staff during both the design
and implementation stages of the Project.”
- Indigenous People.
Cambodia’s indigenous people mainly live in the North and Northeastern
parts of the country – the same areas which constitute the heart
of Cambodia’s logging concession system. Bank guidelines state
for an investment project affecting Indigenous People, Indigenous
Peoples Development Plans should be prepared to ensure they
benefit from development investment. This never happened. “Had
they been developed, many of the problems that have afflicted
the Project would have been recognised and might have been corrected.”
and Spiritual Property. Bank guidelines clearly seek
to conserve, not eliminate areas of cultural importance. Yet
the project left the dubious concession companies to identify
areas of cultural and spiritual importance within their cutting
areas. In Cambodia, these included Spirit Forests and areas
of archaeological importance. The Panel found this was “not
consistent” with Bank safeguards.
- Social Impacts.
The Panel found that the lack of social assessment specific
to this project seriously denigrated the ability of the bank
to comply with its own operational policies. For example, there
was no acknowledgement from the Bank that resin tree harvesting
by concession companies severely harmed the livelihoods of local
populations. Resin tapped from various
species of dipterocarp tree is an economically valuable
commodity both within Cambodia and abroad. Recent studies estimate
that at least 100,000 rural Cambodians derive part of their
income from resin-tapping.
The Panel noted Bank Management were frequently
made aware of the issue from many sources, concluding: “it is
amply clear not only that the Bank should have been aware of
the importance of resin tapping to forest dependent communities,
and the harm that illegal cutting of resins was doing to those
communities, but also that the Bank was aware of these issues.”
of sub-standard management plans for six concession companies.
“The Panel considers that SFMPs and ESIAs were deficient
in almost all regards from process to content.”
Global Witness welcomes Panel findings showing the deeply flawed
nature of the project, the question they are now asking is what
is the Bank going to do about it?
Wolfowitz has stated how important the Panel is for monitoring
Bank performance and this latest report could be seen as a test-case.
According to Director Simon Taylor: ‘If the Bank is serious it
needs to ensure that those responsible for this debacle are held
accountable and that other forestry projects in countries such
as Democratic Republic of Congo are not recycling the same flawed
approach. More broadly the Bank has to rethink the way it operates
in highly corrupt environments such as Cambodia so that its efforts
benefit the poor rather than local elites and dubious private
the launch of the Inspection Panel investigation the Bank has
withdrawn its support of the logging concession system and its
operators, advocating a range of alternative approaches to forest
management with greater emphasis on the role of local communities.
belated u-turn on forest sector policy in Cambodia deserves to
be welcomed, but we have yet to see these words turned into reality
on the ground. We now need to see the Bank to put its political
influence and in-house capacity behind a concerted drive to make
sure that this more appropriate package of measures is fully implemented’’,
request for inspection of the FCMCPP was sent to the Inspection
Panel in February 2005 by NGO Forum on Cambodia, whom the plaintiffs
have nominated as their representative. This request document
can be downloaded from the Inspection Panel’s website, along with
the World Bank management’s response and the Inspection Panel’s
assessment of the request and its recommendations:
briefing document by Global Witness which sets out in detail the
case for investigating the FCMCPP was submitted to the Inspection
Panel in February 2005 as part of the request for inspection.
This document can be downloaded at
The World Bank’s Inspection Panel was
created in 1993 to increase the accountability of World Bank lending
and to provide local people with a forum of last resort to enforce
their rights under Bank policies and loan conditions.
Eleanor Nichol, Global Witness, e-mail:
- Central African forestry administrations:
are they at the service of the peoples involved?
1990, a lot of noise has been made about the forests of the Congo
Basin, both good and bad. Now a new environmental wave is descending
on the Democratic Republic of Congo, of a scope very similar to
that of the “Zaire boom” in the seventies. However, the question
is: are the Central African forestry administrations -generally
subject to insidious sociological factors- aligned with the aspirations
and needs regarding welfare of the region’s inhabitants?
of all, for an African it is an act of bravery to restore to African
people the visibility of their forestry administrations and this
for various reasons. Of these, the first two are that “those who
objectify reality are not much appreciated” and that “foreign
experts are still those who determine priority fields of intervention
in forest ecosystems.” Africans need to define for themselves
the forestry administrations for their people, but this has not
Two functions of
forestry administrations in Central Africa
are considering two of the main functions of forestry administrations
in Central Africa: the production of timber and the conservation
of biological diversity. In spite of the diversity of forms
under which they are presented, these functions are not fulfilled
in a satisfactory way. For instance all (or nearly all)
the cities mainly consume waste from sawmills; many cities lack
timber even though the countries export it; the construction of
subregional or regional markets for legal forestry products is
taking for ever, while protection of the European market is being
its part, biological diversity conservation sets problems, even
when it stems from noble ambitions and even though experiments
are being done in this field. Over a decade has gone by since
the launching of the first participatory management programmes
for protected areas executed under the auspices of international
organizations for the conservation of nature. However most of
them do not seem to contribute to the preservation of biological
diversity or to improve the living conditions of the peoples directly
involved. This is demonstrated in a recent analysis of the various
projects for the management of protected areas in Central Africa
(Ndinga, 2005). Not only do the neighbouring inhabitants of these
areas continue to have food, health and educational problems,
but they are also subject to restrictions that upset their interior
vision of harmony between the elements and their surroundings
without their participation in the protection of natural resources
materializing, despite the loud announcements made by international
this invites us to reflect. Historically it is a recognized fact
that, to find answers to the problems of the forestry sector,
we must resort to people who are capable of benefiting from what
the various sciences have to offer, (law, political, economic,
social, historical and geographical sciences, as well as natural
science regarding the environment and in particular, forests).
We consider that this is the point where forestry could favour
the creation of conditions providing an opportunity for the adjustment
of Central African forestry administrations to the needs and aspirations
of the peoples directly involved. Only the capacity of the African
people to reflect for themselves on the diversity of aspects involved
in their forests will make it possible, in the first place to
contribute to get forestry administrations to adjust to these
needs and, secondly to end the dissemination of foreign ideas,
traditions and approaches on biological diversity in their countries.
Models of decision-making
processes in the forestry administrations of Central Africa
major problem that should be addressed jointly is the rationalization
of decision-making processes in the forestry administrations of
one side are the forestry administrations operating on the basis
of a sort of “rationalized neo-patrimonialism.” These resemble
a set of more or less rival tribal and/or political entities and
individuals, considered as so many other subsystems and structures
surrounding the Head of State. Their main type of action consists
in updating routines (traditional forestry operations), redistributing
positions and forestry resources and seeking some kind of credibility
in the eyes of capitalist partners and international NGOs. In
this case, the central proposal for the decision to be taken is
the result of presidential intervention.
the other extreme are the forestry administrations that resort
to extortion and violent and direct depredation of forestry resources.
This refers to the cases of the most extreme and bloody political
systems and to the “war lords.” The forestry administration is
then a set of tribal, military and/or political entities structured
around the war lords; the main actions are then manifestations
of violent impulses, updating of routines, extortion and direct
depredation of forestry resources and the orchestration of fund
providers and international NGOs. The decision is a result
of war lord intervention.
these two extremes lies rational forestry administration. Even
though the Head of State continues to be the main actor, forestry
administration is structured around State institutions, the regulations
governing them and the nation’s values: the dominant type of action
is a search for a response to social demand for forestry products
and environmental services. The decision is a calculated solution
to a strategic national problem.
should be remembered that these are only models. Evidently the
universe of forestry administrations in Central Africa is heterogeneous.
Very often it is a mixture of “rationalized neo-patrimonialists,”
“war lords” and rational actors and all have a dominating role
to a greater or lesser degree. However, models enable us
to better understand the sociology of forestry administrations
in Central Africa and their internal decision processes.
This basis enables us to reflect on the rationalization of such
this standpoint, it becomes evident that the significant factors
influencing the decisions of Central African forestry administrations
need to be visualized. “Neo-patrimonialism” privileges deviations
from standards and conformism; this has been so abundantly demonstrated
that it is possible to affirm for example that John Maynard Keynes
would never have made himself a career in such administrations.
On the other hand, the history and identity of Central African
people, although notable in many aspects, were open for a long
time to networks of more or less confessable activities. It is
for this reason that many Central African people, whether or not
they be men/women of State, allude to their will to put themselves
at the service of their country but, in fact, continue to legitimise
deviations, offering scant resistance and developing strategies
to atomize forestry institutions and competing among themselves
to obtain the rank of interlocutors with foreign experts, international
organizations, or capitalist organizations.
contrary to what some may think, the significant internal factors
to improve decision-making in the forestry administrations of
Central Africa are not only quantitative (the amount of personnel
and the importance of financial means) but also qualitative, referring
to the quality of the people and the institutional context. For
example the forestry administration in the Congolese Republic,
which in 1960 did not include any professional foresters, now
has over 200; its budget, insignificant in 1960 is to-day various
millions of CFA francs. Nearly all the Central African countries
have evolved similarly. However, forest management in these countries
is presently much worse than in 1960 if one considers the generalization
of corruption, forest degradation, the decrease in wildlife or
violence within forestry administrations.
addition to the above-mentioned factors, globalization and the
insertion of Central African countries in increasingly dense networks
of international, friendly or shared interest links have positive
but also coercive effects that weaken their commitment with the
forest ecosystem cause. This is due to western hegemony and to
the culture of international relations sociology in the western
countries and to the African people’s scant feelings of nationalism.
this is added the fact that diplomacy has considerable influence
on decision-making processes in Central African forestry administrations.
Official western diplomacy, in spite of appearing to be of a “generous
nature,” has another aspect that should be made known, particularly
in the field of forestry competitiveness. In fact, this diplomacy
is usually at the service of the forces which, in the past, caused
the weakening of the structures and impoverishment of the region;
forces whose primary concern is personal interest but that orchestrate
the power of their own State and international conventions; forces
that, in the field of forest conservation develop transversal
strategies in a struggle against other powers. So far Central
African diplomacy has been absolutely disorderly and impotent
and has left forest ecosystems (almost) entirely open to actors
that influence the decisions of African forestry administrations
towards bowing to their interests.
a complement to official diplomacy we find “non-governmental diplomacies.”
These do not limit themselves to activities carried out through
organizations of the same name. They have existed for centuries,
have multiple dimensions and directions and have numerous and
diverse actors. It should be noted that here “fluency of
speech” and rhetoric contribute to achieve their objectives. Seduced
by their nobility and the generous inspiration which they make
a show of, Central African countries overlook the distortions
they induce in forestry administration decisions. In fact there
are many good souls who claim to be defending the forests of the
Congo Basin, but at the end of the day, what they are doing, in
erudite language, is to orchestrate African people, promote corruption
and cronyism or support dishonest politicians. For example
an African official in an international NGO who fabricated a false
mission report was “catapulted” to the post of auditor of this
organization. Another African, this time a competent one, found
that if he wanted to obtain a subregional post it was under the
condition he aligned himself with the position of a Minister who,
if our sources are true, was not exactly a referent in matters
of good political and economic governance.
of all, it would be advisable to strengthen the capacity of the
African people to define for themselves the functions of their
forestry administrations. Secondly, it should be made clear that
the fact of reflecting on these administrations, analyzing the
factors that affect them, including diplomacy, is not an intellectual
or diplomatic heresy. Furthermore, this approach is not entirely
new, it is a prolongation of the efforts made for decades now
by numerous authors, mainly in the field of international relations
sociology and it provides social visibility to factors that are
frequently ignored but which explain to a great extent the reasons
for the ineffectiveness of so many measures adopted at conferences,
seminars and workshops.
is a timely approach, considering that Central African forestry
administrations are much more open than they were in 1960. In
this context, the inclusion of African people’s concerns in the
functions of forestry administrations will be favoured, not because
of the discretion of the actors but because of the support of
public opinion and of companies. This implies that the rationalization
of decision-making processes requires, at the forefront, public
training on the sociology of these administrations and on international
when actors in the so-called sustainable development only manage
to provoke the rejection of the honest people they are attempting
to help, it is hard to affirm that they are aiming, as their mission
would suppose, at promoting an improvement in the living conditions
in Central Africa. In this case, unless the international community
makes an effort to remove them from African forests, it will be
participating in poor forest governance and contributing to unsustainable
those who examine the function of the administrations studied
in this analysis will agree that it is necessary to build national,
subregional and regional markets for quality forest products.
Such action will doubtlessly be insufficient to achieve that the
forestry administrations arrange themselves in function of the
needs and aspirations to welfare of the inhabitants of Central
Africa. However these are important advances that should be strengthened
in the future thanks to a better organization of the beneficiaries,
to rational experience and, above all, to the justified support
of public opinion.
Assitou Ndinga, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. (Ndinga, A.,
Gestion des forêts d’Afrique centrale. Avec ou Sans les concernés?
L’Harmattan, collection Études Africaines,
- Costa Rica: Gringos landing at Tortuga Landing
computer. That is what the US citizen Paul Lambert, representative
of the Tortuga Landing company offered the Ministry of Environment
and Energy (MINAE) as compensation for having built a 105 metre
long and 4 metres wide road and for having eliminated natural
regeneration in a forest in the terrestrial maritime area of Quepos,
a Central Pacific locality. This occurred during a “conciliation”
hearing which took place on 17 February at the Environmental Administrative
Tribunal (file No. 184-05-3-TAA).
and unaware of the road and the felling, on 16 May 2005, the Costa
Rican Federation for the Conservation of the Environment (Federación
Costarricense para la Conservación del Ambiente - FECON) had lodged
a complaint against Paul Lambert (File No. 05-007294-647-PE) with
the General Attorney of the Republic, requesting the collaboration
of the authorities to investigate an apparent case of fraud involving
the sale of plots in the above mentioned forest, which is part
of the State-owned national heritage and therefore inalienable
and non-lapsing. That is to say: it is not private property.
www.latitude9.com published an advertisement for Tortuga
Landing, offering the paradisiacal forest on the shores of the
tropical sea at Punta Quepos and showing a sketch of the urbanization
project comprising fifteen exclusive plots, nine of which located
in the terrestrial maritime area. The plots had the word SOLD
written on them with the exception of one, valued at US$ 450,000.
text in English announced: “Last site up for sale at Tortuga Landing!
Tortuga Landing is a private community located in an exuberant
tropical forest on a private creek…The private sandy
beach is one of the last Pre-Columbian points of arrival of marine
turtles, preserved in a natural state… One of these plots, approximately
¾ of a hectare, is located on the southern side of the beach and
surrounded by virgin forest. One of the last sea-front opportunities
in the area!"
(Following the complaint, the text and graphic illustrations of
the advertisement were removed from the internet page and replaced
I learnt about the complaint to the Environmental Tribunal I asked
to be included as a part of it and thus I learnt of other revealing
In 1998, Paul Lambert commissioned the
preparation of the Regulatory Plan for Playa Para (a land planning
project) that only covers part of the beach (700 metres) and that
is tailor-made to fit the Tortuga Landing project. Presently this
Regulatory Plan is being contested.
Neither Tortuga Landing nor Paul Lambert have an approved concession
in Playa Para.
In order to approve the concession to Paul Lambert, the Municipality
of Aguirre conditioned it to the building of a road.
Prior to his appointment as President of the Environmental Tribunal,
Lic. Carlos Briceño Obando carried out functions in the Presidency
of the Republic and in the Municipality of Aguirre.
To advise him on environmental matters, Paul Lambert relies on
the services of the company “Alternativas de Gestión Ambiental
Sociedad Anónima” - A.G.A.S.A. (Alternatives to Environmental
Management Corporation), which includes members of the Costa Rican
environmental organization Apreflofas.
conclude with this reflection: In this increasingly polarized
Costa Rica, it is not a coincidence that the three coastal provinces
(Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limon), the richest in biodiversity
and where tourism brings in the most foreign currency, should
paradoxically be the provinces showing the lowest rates of human
development. In order to satisfy the needs of some under the pretext
of “promoting ecotourism and attracting foreign investment,” turtles
and natural wealth in general are irresponsibly being replaced
by gringos, dollars…and computers.
Juan Figuerola, e-mail: email@example.com
- Gambia: Bee-keeping as a tool for forest
protection and restoration
the early 1900s Gambia was covered by dense and almost impenetrable
forests. Today there are only some few remnants of primary forest
left, with 78% of the remaining forest area classified as “degraded
tree and shrub savannah vegetation.” The main cause of this forest
degradation process can be traced back to the introduction of
groundnut (peanut), which became the main export-oriented cash
crop, mostly aimed at supplying the French market with industrial
and cooking oil.
The Gambia, the easiest and cheapest way for preparing the land
for cultivation is the use of fire, and at end of the dry season
people are actively setting fire to small and large areas of land.
In many cases, those fires spread to the nearby tree and shrub
vegetation, thus further contributing to forest degradation. Fire
prevention and control thus appear to be essential for the protection
of the remaining forest areas.
a recent visit to the country, the WRM interviewed Amadou Ceesay
(CEO) and Ousman Joof (Production manager) from the National Beekeepers
Association of The Gambia (NBAG), who explained the importance
of their activity –coupled with community forest management- in
the conservation and restoration of forests, particularly regarding
explained that community forest management is a long term project
and that people need to identify income generating activities
within those forests. According to Ceesay, “one of the best identified
activities is beekeeping. The moment they have their equipment,
in only 2-3 months they can begin to receive earnings, and beekeeping
provides more than the annual farming income.”
result is that people are then interested in protecting the forest,
because they need enough trees and flowers for their bees, so
they sustain existing ones and plant more. With hives, community
forests are well protected from forest fires, not only because
beekeepers wish to maintain their source of pollen, but also because
they need to protect the hives themselves -located inside the
forest- from fires. Ousman Joof says: “We serve as forest guardians:
no cutting, no burning, more planting. We need year-round flowers,
so we plant different species.”
activity is promoted in partnership between the NBAG, the Forestry
Department and the community forest committees. While the former
takes care of training and marketing of the honey, the Forestry
Department assists in the provision of equipment and transportation.
is also important to note that beekeeping and honey consumption
are not alien to Gambian culture. On the contrary, there is a
long tradition in the use of wild honey and in most communities
there is traditional beekeeping knowledge. The bees themselves
are native to Africa, thus being very resistant to disease. According
to the NBAG, “the idea of incorporating beekeeping into community
forests came from the farmers themselves, and most of the honey
produced is sold in Gambia, where it is also used in medication”,
emphasizing that “every household has honey.” People are now thinking
of planting trees to realize other incomes: wax, fruit, jams (with
honey and mango), firewood.
words of Amadou Ceesay, beekeeping “is the fastest and cheapest
way of protecting forests, because local communities benefit from
- India: Joint Parliamentary Committee Report
- A Victory for the Struggling Forest People
National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) welcomes
the report submitted by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)
on the draft Forest Rights Bill and is hopeful that the Central
Cabinet will approve it and will send it to the Parliament. NFFPFW
further acknowledges the role played by the Chairman and members
of the JPC, and contribution of all other social movements, struggle
groups of forest people and movements in shaping this Bill through
their suggestions, and submissions before the JPC.
present United Progressive Alliance
government led by the Congress Party
introduced “The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition
of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005” in the Parliament on 13 December
2005 promising to correct the injustice meted out to the tribals
in the past. Though most of the civil society groups and struggle
groups and movements welcomed the move by the Government, it was
pointed out by many that the draft Bill was limited in scope and
restricted rights over forest land to the scheduled tribes only
thereby depriving and violating the rights of non-scheduled tribe
forest dwellers. The draft Bill was also criticised for undermining
the role of the gram sabha [village council], bringing in a spectra
of large scale eviction in having 1980 as the cut of date and
keeping the option open for displacement of thousands from the
National Park and Sanctuaries.
fighting for rights of forest-dependent people since its inception
in 1998 while welcoming the draft Bill, raised the demand for
a more comprehensive legislation on forests, and was perhaps,
one of the first
groups in the country to publicly voice its concern on the limited
scope of the Bill and demanded that non-scheduled tribe forest
dwellers should be brought in to the ambit of the draft Bill.
NFFPFW, along with its constituent groups and the North Eastern
groups, also voiced the complex nature of the forests, its laws
and relationship between the forest dependent and forests in the
north eastern states that was not reflected in the draft. Since
then, NFFPFW along with other struggle groups and movements, consistently
echoed its concerns to policymakers, interacted with political
parties and members of Parliament, and legislators. NFFPFW made
a detailed presentation of its suggested amendments to the draft
Bill before the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
is certainly a moment of victory and reaffirms our faith on peoples’
power. However, we at NFFPFW are aware about the new challenges
it throws open now. The biggest challenge will be to force both
the Houses of the Parliament to pass the Bill, and in the time
of implementation of the Act at the ground level as there is bound
to be conflicts and enough preparations need to be done to deal
with such situations.
believes that this is a part of the larger issue of livelihood
and ownership of forest resources and there are much larger challenges
hovering around implications of climate change, usurping of common
property rights, destruction of natural forests in favour of plantations,
and commodification of forest for global trade. Increased interventions
by International Financial Institutions in environment sector
in the country is taking away the space of communities and facilitating
a process of commodifying these sectors.
is a need to strengthen the collective struggle and defeat all
those efforts which are in conflict with the lives and livelihoods
and dignity of the forest dwelling communities. NFFPFW pledges
to carry forward that struggle for the rights of forest communities.
Ashok Chowdhury, sent by Mamata Dash, National Forum of Forest
People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- From Mexico to Ecuador – twinned in history,
memory and resistance
letters have been sent from abroad to the Government of Ecuador
in the framework of the campaign to support Ecuadorian social
and indigenous organizations that are endeavouring to avoid the
adoption in that country of a legislation that will imply the
expansion of large scale monoculture tree plantations (see the
article on Ecuador in this bulletin). But we want to publish
the full version of the letter sent by the Council of Traditional
Indigenous Doctors and Midwives of Chiapas (the Compitch) because
it reflects the feeling of many and is dictated by the heart of
a Latin American people that at this time beats in unison with
the Ecuadorian people.
Ana Alban Mora, Minister of the Environment of Ecuador and… the
are grass-roots Mexicans, indigenous Mayas, inhabitants of the
forests of Chiapas, all equally Latin American.
are members of the largest (but not necessarily most important)
organization of traditional doctors of Chiapas, a Mexican South-Eastern
Federal State. We come from different political affiliations,
from all religious creeds and all the indigenous tongues still
spoken in this State.
are not many of us, but believe it or not, in 2001, after two
years of resistance, we got the IBCG United States bio-prospecting
project cancelled. One year ago, 24 hours after a lightening march,
we also managed the cancellation of the State bill to define (corporatively)
the biological wealth of the State. A few months ago we were able
to neutralize the bill on a federal law for access to genetic
resources. The reason for our nonconformity and mobilization has
always been the same: the lack of consultation with the interested
parties, in this case us, and others like us, the social majorities.
tell us that the same is happening in Ecuador, that they are not
convening the grass roots organizations to participate in a process
of public discussion affecting their natural resources - in this
case forests - but they do convene the business class, the moneyed
will not make a formal, administrative petition, asking for the
bill to be suspended or modified. But just take a mirror, look
at it and look well at what it reflects, towards the past and
towards the future, as we should always see in a mirror. If this
mirror only reflects the present, that is to say, permanence of
the same, then you loose and our grass-roots Ecuadorian companions
win, because you know, our mirrors from the grass roots reflect
memory and times to come, that is to say, where the face they
are looking at comes from and what is waiting for it on the basis
of the face that is looking at it. But they also win, we win because
with us, the difference is, madam Minister, that nobody pays us
to defend the wealth of our homelands that we safeguard for everyone’s
happiness and because, contrary to you, by doing this we multiply
IUCN, FAO, World Bank, Tropenbos International, Dutch Ministry
of Agriculture, and annexes, we add some respectful prayers because,
in view of their common track record, we conclude that the above
reflection will not be enough..
the faithful mirror of history with time, ours and that of your
Board of Directors of the Council of Traditional Indigenous Doctors
and Midwives of Chiapas (the Compitch).
Manuel Pérez Jiménez, Secretary: Domingo López Sántiz, Treasurer:
Francisca Pérez Pérez
Chiapas, Mexico, this 20th day of June, 2006”
AND TREE MONOCULTURES
- Brazil: Indigenous representatives campaign in Europe to recover
their land occupied by Aracruz Celulose
Henrique de Oliveira, a Tupinikim leader of
Caieiras Velhas and Coordinator of the Articulação de Povos e
Organizações Indígenas do Nordeste, Minas Gerais e Espírito Santo
- APOINME (Articulation of Indigenous People and Organizations
from the Northeast, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo),
and Antônio Carvalho, a Guarani chief, travelled to Europe in
April/May 2006, to publicise their struggle to demarcate Tupinikim
and Guarani lands in Espírito Santo (see WRM Bulletins Nº 94,
96, 102, 103) . They spent three weeks travelling to Norway, Holland,
Germany and Austria where they talked to various groups about
the 11,009 hectares of their land currently in the possession
of Aracruz Celulose --Brazil’s giant pulp producer. The following
is Paulo de Oliveira’s account of the trip.
left Brazil on 25 April, aiming to show what is happening with
indigenous people in Brazil, and more specifically in the State
of Espírito Santo, where the indigenous territory is occupied
by a multinational company, Aracruz Celulose S.A., in which some
European countries, among other countries, hold shares.
Norway, a country which invests 34 million Norwegian crowns (approximately
4.5 million Euros) in the company, we held a meeting with the
Bank of Norway, with members of the Parliament and with the Council
of Ethics of the Government Pension Fund. We asked them to withdraw
all the investments they hold in the company.
of the factories that buy pulp from Aracruz are based in Germany.
There we took part in meetings with some of these companies, with
the Forest Stewarship Council (part of Aracruz’s operations were
certified by FSC as well managed), with the Ministry of Development,
with members of the Parliament of the Green Party and with some
NGOs. We talked about the disrespect shown by Aracruz Celulose
for the indigenous people and for the Brazilian Constitution,
which guarantees Indigenous Rights. We asked the various people
and organisation that we met to put pressure on Aracruz so that
it returns the lands, respects the decision of the Minister of
Justice and that the Brazilian government demarcates the Tupinikim
and Guarani lands as soon as possible and enforces the Brazilian
the trip, we were able to have many discussions with other NGOs,
to strengthen our struggle and our organization, as well as to
see that the Europeans are very sensitive towards the indigenous
cause and that they make all efforts to help us. For example,
the children of a school we visited willingly polished shoes to
raise funds to help us in our struggle.
However, I hope that
the politicians, the companies, the Ministry of Development, the
FSC and the Bank we visited are able to fulfil their promises,
and that Aracruz returns the lands. I hope that the government
speeds up the process of demarcation and that we may continue
our struggle, helping our brothers and sisters who fight for their
lands, for their rights, for their dignity, because our struggle
does not end here. This is just the beginning of a struggle for
a better life and a better planet.”
struggle of the Tupinikin and Guarani peoples seems to bear fruit.
Such has been the international discredit of Aracruz for its usurpation
of indigenous land that the company itself has recently announced
that it decided to “request the voluntary
temporary withdrawal of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification
of the forests [eucalyptus
to its Guaíba Unit located in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
This certification, which was obtained before the acquisition
of this unit, had previously been revalidated three consecutive
times and was to expire in December 2006.”
has this to do with the struggle in Espirito Santo? Aracruz
the link. In its press release (at
it states that “some stakeholders had expressed concern to the
FSC about the revalidation of the UG certificate — not related
to forestry management in Rio Grande do Sul, but rather a land
dispute between the company’s Barra do Riacho Unit (more than
2,000 km away) and indigenous communities in the State of Espírito
This is clearly a damage control operation. In this way, Aracruz
is acknowledging the success of the indigenous peoples’ campaign
in generating international support to their struggle to recover
their lands and is trying to avoid broadening opposition within
the FSC certification arena.
this issue is developing, Aracruz tries to conceal its
real face with big money that can hire
broadcasting spaces to capture huge global audiences. A new nationwide
propaganda in the current World
celebrities, like former football player Pelé, playing a ball
to each other, while a voice says: “Aracruz: fazendo um papel
bonito lá fora”, meaning in English “Aracruz: playing a nice role
out there” (there’s
a world play since in Portuguese the word “papel” has the double
meaning of "role"
the end product of the cellulose produced by Aracruz).
more far from reality, and local communities know it well. On
June 16, in Jacutinga, a community at Linhares, north of Espírito
Santo, seven tractors of the company were put in motion to pull
down part of the Brazilian Mata Atlântica
forest. The action was carried out on a holiday, but was nothwithstanding
deterred by the firm resistance of pesants from the Movement of
Small Peasants who have been protecting the area for more than
twenty years (see report from the
Alert against the Green
certifiable, not reliable. Aracruz should not be viable.
- Brazil: Impacts of eucalyptus plantations
The social and environmental impacts of monoculture eucalyptus
plantations have been well documented in many countries. However,
the gender dimension has usually been overlooked, thus hiding
the differentiated impacts they have on women. The following quotes
from a research carried out in Brazil on Aracruz Cellulose’ plantations
and pulp mill operation are therefore very useful to shed some
light on the issue and to encourage other people to look further
into these less well-known impacts.
women, Afrodescendents (Quilombolas) and peasants, who used to
live with their families and communities in the places taken over
by eucalyptus plantations, had their socioeconomic role well defined.
As reported by Mr. Antônio dos Santos, from the Indian settlement
of Pau Brasil, Indian women had specific tasks. They produced
certain types of handicrafts such as sieves, for example, while
the men made bowls and oars. Together with the men, they worked
on the land planting and hoeing, and also fished. The Quilombola
women, for example, produced bijú --a typical food of this population--
to feed their families and to be sold and to produce income.
the arrival of the eucalyptus plantations, the women, like the
other inhabitants of the region, experienced the changes in the
organization of their territory and of their place in the community;
in what they produced and how it was produced. Their socioeconomic
role in the family and community underwent alterations and several
of these women, after having lost their land, were forced to seek
another place to live and work. They migrated with their children
and relatives to urban regions, close to the place where they
used to live, which is the case of many families that moved to
the cities of São Mateus and Aracruz. Others sought the metropolitan
region of the state, increasing the size of shanty towns, and
to continue caring for their houses and families, exchanged rural
activities for those of maids, cleaning women or washerwomen of
urban middle and upper
women that still resist in the midst of eucalyptus also continue
taking care of their homes and families, but at the same time,
face more difficulties than before. For example, the rivers and
streams that were used for washing clothing, and from where they
used to take drinking water and fish in, are mostly contaminated.
Accordingly, the members of the family, including the women, are
forced to go to other places to obtain drinking water. Doralim
Serafim dos Santos, a Quilombola, says that ‘nobody here washes
clothes in this stream, since the clothes become yellow and filthy.
When I was growing up we used to clean fish in the stream and
the water was crystal clear’.
problem is the lack of native forest, a source of the raw material
necessary to create handicrafts. In addition, the contamination
of the soil caused by the use of pesticides on plantations jeopardizes
the planting of medicinal herbs by women. Medicinal herbs are
used frequently by traditional populations to prevent and combat
illnesses. The shortage of good and sufficient land also complicates
the coordination of domestic tasks and agricultural production.
Nowadays women have to cover long distances to work on third party
plantations, in the coffee and sugar cane fields, for example.
These women are more subject to occupational accidents. It is
also worth adding that today, in the state of Espírito Santo,
26% of the families, i.e., 800,000 homes, have women as heads
of the family. This means that Espírito Santo is one of the Brazilian
states with the greatest number of homes headed by women in proportionate
terms. This item of data indicates that paid work for women has
ceased to be merely a form of boosting the family income and has
become vital for the subsistence of women and of their families.
is also the experience of indigenous women that, with the loss
of their conditions of subsistence, sought alternative ways of
contributing to the family financially. Some have become the maids
of the bosses of the company Aracruz. However, in 1998, after
the process of self-demarcation of indigenous lands, they were
discharged in retaliation. They had to go after other types of
work outside the Indian settlements. However, some of them were
luckier and managed to get jobs as teachers and health agents
in the actual settlements where they live. All this effort on
the part of women to contribute towards the family income has
produced changes in their traditional role, which has been affecting
the entire community to a certain extent. On the other hand, in
spite of the ruin produced by Aracruz’s large agro-industrial
project, the company seeks to be close to this population at all
times, organizing aid actions. One of the last alternatives that
we have news of is the organization of professionalizing courses
for these women, with the objective of making them into manicures,
pedicures and waitresses, professions foreign to this population.
situation that merits emphasis is that of the reduced quantity
of women from neighboring communities that work at the company
Aracruz. It is not surprising that in the year 1998, only 6.8%
of the company’s employees were women, according to data from
most of the women that worked at Aracruz performed cleaning services,
worked in the administrative sector of the plant, or in the nursery
and in planting of seedlings, perhaps because women are supposed
to be more qualified for this type of activity that requires careful
manual work. However, nowadays this activity is already almost
totally mechanized. The majority of these services are now outsourced.
work on the land, women also suffered occupational accidents like
men. One example of an accident occurred on July 14, 1986, when
a former worker from Aracruz Celulose was descending a ‘grota’
with a box of 30 eucalyptus seedlings, weighing 45 kilos. She
fell and broke her spine. After having been transferred to an
office cleaning job, she was fired as she was unable to stand
up any more. Now aged 51, she cannot even carry a chair and needs
to control the pain in her spine with medication. She has never
managed to get another job.
however, women, in an invisible role, had to care for their husbands,
sick and the victims of accidents caused by the work carried out
on the plantations. Doralina says that ‘there were days when he
came home with his eyes hurting and was almost unable to get to
sleep at night, then his eyes got really bad, he couldn’t see
properly, and did a few tests’. There are cases of widows of ex-workers
from the company Aracruz and outsourced companies that need to
maintain the house alone, without any support”.
from the research “Eucalyptus Plantations and Pulp Production.
Promises of Jobs and Destruction of Work. The case of Aracruz
Celulose in Brazil”, by Alacir De Nadai,
Winfridus Overbeek, and Luiz Alberto Soares, commissioned by WRM
and The Network Alert against the Green Desert, May 2005,
- Colombia: Community challenges multinational
company Smurfit Carton de Colombia
Colombia is involved
in the same process taking place in several Latin American countries
establishment of fast-growing monoculture tree plantations.
Recently the wrongly-called
“General Forest Law” was adopted, or as the environmentalists
it, the three-lie law: it is not a law, it is not general, nor
is it about forests. In order to be a law it ought to serve the
interests of Colombian society as a whole and not those of the
major forestry companies. In turn, it would be a general law if
it were to cover other forest-related issues such as community
use or ecosystem restoration –just to name a few examples– and
not just forest exploitation. Finally, it is not a forest
law but a law of an economic nature that enables and facilitates
the entry of large timber companies to exploit forests which,
in the framework of this law, are seen as mere merchandise.
At the same time,
a complex network of actors, ranging from international financial
institutions such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development
Bank, together with various “cooperation” agencies from different
countries –Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, USA, just to name
a few– have appeared on the scene to prepare the ground just as
they have done in various other Latin American countries.
The General Forest
Law comes hand in hand with many evils for Colombian forests and
the Colombian people, among them opening doors for the establishment
of fast-growing tree plantations.
has approximately 200,000 hectares of pine and eucalyptus plantations.
The main company operating in the country is the transnational
corporation Smurfit Carton de Colombia. This company owns large
tracts of tree plantations --40.000 hectares—and a factory producing
cardboard and paper. It also has a track record of violation of
human rights, deforestation and contamination (see articles published
in previous bulletins no. 77, 43).
The company owns
areas planted with pine and eucalyptus trees in the Cauca Valley.
Presently it is planning to increase their extension in the Valley
area and for this purpose intends to enter the Municipality of
Guacari, more precisely in the Vereda of Santa Rosa de Tapias,
Alto Pomares sector.
However, the company
had not reckoned with finding an organized community, unwilling
to allow the company to enter its lands.
The area in question
is an extremely rich high zone, where sources of water spring
and serve 17 communities comprising 1,500 peasant families who
inhabit this area. These peasant families are smallholders,
owning an average of 4-5 “plazas” (1 plaza = 6400 metres of land).
The predominant crop on their farms is coffee, but it is also
combined with a great diversity of other crops, such as vegetables,
fruit-trees, bamboo (which they use to build their houses). They
also combine animal husbandry, breeding animals such as pigs,
cattle and poultry. They obtain almost all the necessary
elements for subsistence from their land and work.
Water –which the
springs in the uplands provide– is a central element enabling
them to produce food on their farms. They know that the
entry of Smurfit in the uplands and the establishment of fast-growing
tree plantations imply the depletion of a resource that is presently
shared among the peasants and essential to maintain their food
Smurfit intends to
enter these highlands by associating itself with one of the large
landowners still remaining in the area. This family owns 320 hectares
of land. A first step by the company to enter the zone will be
to occupy these 320 hectares and then advance purchasing lands
until the peasants who resist selling their properties are surrounded
and finally obliged to abandon the land.
When the peasants
found out about the company’s plans they started to organize themselves,
obtain information and lodge complaints with the various entities
involved in an attempt to curb the company’s progress. At
various meetings they had strong confrontations with the company
representatives, who threatened the peasants and told them that
Smurfit “will enter come what may.”
Smurfit invited the
peasants to visit its “planted forests” and to show them the innumerable
benefits they will bring. They visited the plantations in 4 wheel-drive
vehicles, together with company technicians. They saw nobody in
the 4,500 hectares visited, a situation strongly contrasting with
the situation in the areas they presently inhabit. The silence
of the plantations bewildered them. They saw no birds, not a single
cricket, not a single house, the earth was no longer earth but
stones… The company guided the tour and did not allow them to
talk to the inhabitants of the area they visited. It was then
that they decided to organize their own tour of the same zone
with their own resources to see with their own eyes and not those
of the company and to talk to the local communities on the impacts
of the plantations. They corroborated what they already knew:
Smurfit must be stopped!
from various Municipalities in the Cauca Valley affected by monoculture
tree plantations, among which the neighbours of Guacari, have
gathered to set up a Front for Resistance to the Plantations.
The challenges are
great and the powers that they must face are very strong. However,
to unite, to inform themselves and to weave networks is the only
way to checkmate Smurfit!
- Ecuador: A strange “dialogue” for the
promotion of tree monocultures
May 2003, we said that “In nearly all countries, large-scale monoculture
tree plantations have been imposed and implemented once the laws
of each country have been changed in such a way as to enable national
and foreign companies to obtain all kinds of benefits, such as
direct and indirect subsidies, tax breaks and even soft loans
and refunds for large-scale plantations.” (See the article on
Ecuador in WRM Bulletin Nº 70.)
that time, the World Rainforest Movement witnessed firsthand the
pressures exerted on the government of Ecuador to adopt such measures.
We participated in a seminar/workshop organized by the Ecuadorian
Ministry of the Environment to formulate a “National Plan on Forestation
and Reforestation”. Because of the way the event was structured,
however, it ended up being monopolized by forestry companies,
which led the small number of Ecuadorian civil society, peasant
and indigenous organizations in attendance to issue a declaration
expressing their viewpoints. The declaration stressed, among other
points, that for peasant and indigenous communities, large-scale
commercial tree plantations, and especially monoculture plantations,
are not a development alternative; on the contrary, they cause
such problems as:
The deforestation of native forest areas to make way for the introduction
of tree plantations, which has been a regular practice in “reforestation”
The decrease in water resources as a result of the plantations
already established, particularly in the páramo highland region.
Reduced soil fertility, as the result of the replacement of native
species and biodiversity with monoculture plantations of alien
The appropriation of community lands through leases and mortgages,
as in the case of the communities that have signed their lands
over to forestry
companies under mortgages with terms of up to 99 years.
The purchase of vast areas of land by transnational corporations,
as in the case of Mitsubishi in Muisne.
The loss of biodiversity and changes in flora and fauna, a consequence
seen in all tree plantation projects.
The increased risk of fire, as in the case of Sig Sig.
The reduction of conservation areas, as in the case of Cotopaxi
than three years later, another twist of the screw is threatening
to take Ecuador one step closer to the adoption of legislation
to promote large-scale monoculture tree plantations. The Ministry
of the Environment is conducting a process it calls a National
Dialogue on the Forest Management System in Ecuador, which includes
the organization of five regional workshops and a national workshop,
and is aimed at implementing the new System as of this July. This
process has been harshly criticized by numerous Ecuadorian social
and indigenous organizations, who view it as a “dialogue” totally
devoid of popular participation. These groups joined together
to send a letter to the minister of the environment on June 9,
in which they demand, among other things, the immediate suspension
of this process. (The complete letter is available in Spanish
organizations stress: “This process does not include important
actors who are directly affected by the destruction of forests,
their grassroots organizations and their national organizations.
The regional dialogue, held in the city of Esmeraldas illustrates
the lack of participation by citizens’ and community groups. The
sector most widely represented in these processes is the
forestry industry. This is a serious
cause for concern, because its representatives cannot serve as
judges and parties in the discussion of an issue as sensitive
for the country as the control of deforestation. This representation
demonstrates that these meetings are aimed more at formulating
a forestry policy, expanding the area devoted to tree plantations
(deregulation) and increasing incentives for plantations. This
blatantly benefits the forestry companies and does nothing to
address the fundamental aspect of the process: forest management
a forest management policy, in our view, should involve the following
The active participation and consent of the communities affected,
their grassroots organizations and their national organizations.
Conserving the country’s last surviving primary forests, fully
prohibiting their exploitation, and enforcing compliance with
the legislation that protects Ecuador’s national forest heritage.
Imposing a moratorium on the logging industry until its social,
environmental and economic impacts on the country have been determined.
Prohibiting the expansion of tree plantations, particularly eucalyptus,
pine and oil palm plantations, which result in the loss of primary
forests and agricultural land, as well as in
serious impacts on water resources and
the lives of local populations.”
organizations that signed the letter maintain that “the forestry
sector is attempting to establish a new forestry policy to suit
its own purposes, while completely disregarding the need for an
authentic forest management policy, which our country currently
these grounds, the organizations have withdrawn from the process
and called on the authorities to “convene a dialogue with genuine
participation, representation and consent, in which we can make
decisions on the management of our resources, and which does not
create the conditions for the usual power groups to continue destroying
the country’s natural heritage.”
is still not too late for Ecuador. This is why an international
action was organized to support Ecuadorian social and indigenous
groups in their efforts to prevent the adoption of legislation
that would promote the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree
Around the world, those who understand that these plantations
only benefit large companies, while offering the local population
nothing but disastrous social, environmental and economic impacts,
have shown their solidarity by sending letters in support of the
Ecuadorian peoples’ efforts to stop this legislation, before it
really is too late.
- Indonesia: A call to cancel plans to
develop 3 million hectares of oil palm plantations
April 12, 2006, the report “The Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega-project”
was released to show the plans of the Indonesian government to
develop up to 3 million hectares of oil palm plantations on the
island of Borneo, of which 2 million hectares along the Kalimantan-Malaysia
border and 1 million hectares elsewhere --in areas still heavily
forested and inhabited by indigenous communities--, to cater for
international demand for cheap palm oil to meet the domestic and
global demand for bio-fuel.
earlier plan had been launched in Indonesia to develop the world’s
largest oil palm plantation --2 million hectares-- in a 5-10 kilometre
band along the border of Kalimantan and Malaysia. The oil palm
mega-project, presented under the banner of “bringing prosperity,
security and environmental protection to the Kalimantan border
area”, turned sour when a business plan developed by the Indonesian
State Plantation Corporation (PTPN) began to circulate. This document
contained a map that showed beyond doubt how the 1.8 million hectare
oil palm project would trash the primary forests of three National
Parks, cut through rugged slopes and mountains utterly unsuitable
for oil palm cultivation and annihilate the customary rights land
of the indigenous Dayak communities in the border area.
plans were met by several campaigns and lobby by the Indonesian
civil society as well as international protest which forced the
Indonesian government to revise its stance and make changes acknowledging
that there were conservation concerns to be taken into account.
However, the new report reveals that the initial plans are not
yet off the table and that oil palm expansion continues. Palm
oil companies have already moved into the border area in many
places, and plans to continue the expansion into the Kalimantan
border area are still very much alive. The planners of the National
Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) found a solution to the
problem that the new expansion plans cannot be accommodated within
the immediate border area, where the total area suitable for oil
palm cultivation is negligible: they simply changed the definition
of what comprises the border zone by extending its width from
5-10 km to 100 km.
area deemed suitable for oil palm includes forests used by thousands
of people who depend on them for their livelihoods and are inhabited
by indigenous communities. In the new larger border zone, a special
regulation (Presidential Decree No. 36/2005) would allow the government
to take land away from communities that do not want oil palm plantations
in the name of “public interest”.
the immediate and extended border area, few indigenous communities
are aware of the government’s development plans. Statements issued
by local communities and their village leaders indicate that of
those who are familiar with the plans strongly, and univocally,
oppose oil palm development in their areas. Of particular concern
to the customary rights land is Presidential Regulation (Pepres
Nr. 36/2005), which allows the government to force the release
of land in view of the “public interest”. Since the border project
is justified by reasons of the public interest (security, prosperity
and environmental protection) and involves the Indonesian Armed
Forces, the government may opt to use this regulation to force
oil palm plantations in the border area. Plans of the Ministry
of Forestry and the Ministry of Agriculture to promote cash crops,
other than palm oil (such as rubber, coffee, tea, cacao,
pepper etc) in the border area could deliver benefits,
but these plans will encounter resistance from local communities
if the government intends to bring in large investors from outside
to plant these crops on customary rights land.
of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) and the local organisation Sawit
Watch (“Oilpalm Watch”) are calling on the Indonesian government
to officially cancel the border mega-plantation plan.
based on information from: “European Hunger for Palm Oil
and Timber Triggers Expansion of Destructive Palm Oil Plantations
on Kalimantan”, from Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Sawit Watch,
Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI), Friends of the Earth England,
Wales and Northern Ireland, http://www.eng.walhi.or.id/kampanye/hutan/konversi/060412_palmoilplantation_/;
“The Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega-project”, Eric Wakker,
AIDEnvironment, Commissioned by Milieudefensie – Friends of the
Earth Netherlands and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
- Mozambique: Paving the way for industrial
May 2006, the Mozambique Ministry of Agriculture submitted for
discussion the document “National Reforestation Strategy” (the
complete document in Portuguese can be found at
As stated in the document, the bases to promote the establishment
of tree plantations in the country involving fast-growing species
are set out.
the pattern present in all the other countries that have introduced
large-scale monoculture tree plantations, the proposal comes with
the promise of generating jobs and eradicating poverty, contributing
to national development particularly in rural zones.
it starts with what we could say is the “original sin” of this
whole package, which so far FAO has transmitted in proposal after
proposal: the identification of monoculture tree plantations with
forests. And it is thus that the Mozambique project promises that
the tree plantations will serve to: preserve soils and water (!),
restore fragile and degraded ecosystems and increase levels of
productivity (!), improve environmental quality (!) and increase
social awareness on the value of nature!
World Rainforest Movement has extensively documented this issue
and our world campaign against large-scale monoculture tree plantations
is aimed at disseminating and alerting on their nefarious effects,
precisely and especially on soils and water, but also on rural
populations and the real economy of people.
project announces that 7 million hectares have been identified
as potentially fit for forestation in the provinces of Sofala,
Manica, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa. It proposes to establish
at least 2 million hectares of tree plantations over the coming
20 years. It also announces that the zoning
of close on 3 million hectares of land fit for forestation will
be made and that “it should be available for potential investors
for the development of industrial plantations.”
order to attract investors, the projects proposes that forestry
legislation should provide incentives for industrial tree plantations
and for exports to the emerging markets, particularly those of
the Pacific and Indian Ocean, especially China, India and other
Asian countries that are avid for raw material to produce pulp
and paper to feed the needs of a wasteful consumer model.
and as affirmed by the document itself, the campaign for the promotion
of industrial monoculture tree plantations in Mozambique is promoted
and sponsored by the major forestry companies engaged in the production
of pulp and paper. There is nothing new under the sun…
process is just staring in the country. In their favour the Mozambique
people have the experience gathered in countries that have been
“invaded” for years now by these “green deserts” and that can
testify that none of the promises have been fulfilled. On the
contrary, tree plantations have caused devastation to water resources
and to soils and a loss of biodiversity. And, with regard to the
thousands of jobs, many people can tell how rural communities
have become impoverished, as they no longer have the forest or
grassland ecosystems that served – to al least some extent – to
support them. No alternative has been left to these communities
but to emigrate or to work as captives in the plantations on a
seasonal basis, generally through outsourcing, in appalling conditions
and often even in semi-slavery. Many Mozambicans who immigrated
to South Africa in search of employment are well aware of this
as they have suffered from it.
it is the same discourse: that pulp or logs exported from the
industrial tree plantations will bring development to the country,
generating jobs and export earnings. However, the scenario is
everywhere the same: export earnings reach the country, but the
benefits go to the hands of the major plantation companies, while
the people and the environment end up loosing.
it is up to the people of Mozambique to stop the looming disaster.
Raquel Núñez, World Rainforest Movement,
based on documentation sent by
Ribeiro, Coordinator of GeaSphere
THE BROADER SCENARIO
- Gender, Militarism and Climate Change
evidence of climate change becomes ever more compelling, the battle
over who gets to frame its causes, effects and solutions will
intensify. In popular as well as policy venues, whose voices get
heard and whose don't will become a key political issue of our
time. Today, at the international policy level, gender is conspicuous
by its absence in climate change debates. In fact, the words "women"
and "gender" are missing in the two main international
global warming agreements, the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Recent feminist scholarship and
advocacy challenge this invisibility of gender, pointing in particular
to the importance of gendering the analysis of vulnerability and
adaptation to global warming.
work on vulnerability draws on previous research regarding what
makes certain populations more at risk in natural disasters such
as floods and droughts, extreme weather events that could become
more prevalent as the result of global warming. For example, in
places where women have less access to food and health care than
men, they start off at a disadvantage when facing natural disasters
and environmental stress. Since they are often the primary caregivers
for children and the elderly, they may also have less mobility.
Cultural restrictions on women's mobility can compound the problem.
During the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh many more women died than
men because early warnings were displayed in public spaces where
women were prohibited and women delayed leaving their homes because
of fears of impropriety.
than relying on broad generalizations, feminist scholars and practitioners
have developed gender-sensitive risk mapping in which women map
their own vulnerabilities in terms of what crops they cultivate,
what resources they do or do not control, their access to irrigation,
markets, information, etc. In this sense, gender analysis is a
tool to explore diverse contexts and come up with locally effective
solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all understanding of vulnerability.
far, much of the literature on gender and vulnerability to climate
change has focused on rural women in the global South though in
a few decades the majority of the world's people will live in
cities. As hurricane Katrina illustrated, the global North is
not immune to extreme climate events either, and the degree of
vulnerability people in New Orleans experienced was closely correlated
with gender, poverty, race, age and class, and the intersections
between them. Given the likelihood that risks associated with
climate change will increase in the years to come, gender-sensitive
risk mapping and data collection would be useful tools for communities,
rural and urban, all over the world.
also remains to be done to make early warning systems more attentive
to gender issues. According to Maureen Fordham of the Gender and
Disaster Network, mostly male experts dominate this field, and
the traditional emphasis is on ('hard') scientific and technical
approaches to the identification of hazards and the solution of
problems with little attention given to the role of women's networks
and other citizens' groups in developing informal warning systems.
The field of disaster management is similarly dominated by men,
and women's needs for information and services are often neglected
in disaster response.
the wholesale neglect of gender issues in international climate
change agreements, it is not surprising that little attention
has been paid to how those agreements themselves may have gendered
outcomes. In a critique of the Kyoto Protocol's approach to carbon
trading, Larry Lohmann of the U.K.-based Corner House points to
how the resulting carbon accounting systems marginalize non-corporate,
non-state and non-expert contributions toward climatic stability
and are creating new exclusionary forms of property rights. They
favor large-scale carbon sequestration projects in the South that
can have both negative social and environmental consequences.
For example, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Plantar S.A. Corporation
has asked for carbon finance for its expanding monoculture eucalyptus
plantations. These plantations not only occupy public lands that
by law should go to poor peasants, they draw down the water supply
and greatly reduce biodiversity.
plantation schemes are likely to have a number of gendered effects.
For example, women will not have access to them for domestic fuelwood
collection, and the few jobs they generate for forest guards,
etc. will go largely to men. Since women in many places rely on
wild plants both for food and seed domestication, loss of biodiversity
could reduce their livelihood resilience. Nor are such plantations
likely to contribute to solving the longer-term energy needs of
poor women. According to Margaret Skutsch of the Gender and Climate
Change Network, the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism
has effectively shut the door on small-scale, non-corporate solutions
such as systems that encourage local control of existing forests
and improvements in their ability to sequester carbon and produce
sustainable fuelwood supplies.
general, little effort has gone into analyzing how gender relations
affect the drivers of climate change. For example, in the global
North, which is disproportionately responsible for global warming,
the transport sector is a primary source of greenhouse gases.
Perhaps with the exception of the U.S., women in the global North
are less likely to own cars and more likely to use public transport.
Moreover, in Europe the cars women drive tend to be smaller and
more fuel-efficient because they are not viewed as status symbols.
This latter point underscores the need to look at gendered dimensions
of consumer desires as they affect energy use. Advertising is
highly gendered - the typical SUV or pick-up driver portrayed
in automobile ads in the U.S., for example, is a male, either
alone or with his mates, out to conquer the rugged wilderness.
If there are women in the picture, they are usually sleek and
beautiful, adding an element of sex appeal. Thus notions of masculinity
and femininity are strategically deployed to create and sustain
a wasteful, gas-guzzling culture, from promotion of ATVs as 'toys
for boys' to the military-civilian Hummer crossover as a potent
symbol of American manhood.
climate change also requires keeping a close eye on fine line
between justifiable concerns about the threats posed by global
warming and the strategic deployment of alarmist discourses to
build support for the Kyoto protocol as well as to serve other
more problematic objectives. Here one has to closely monitor implicit
and explicit gendered narratives that reinforce negative views
of women and poor people.
case in point is the framing of women in terms of the population
threat. Apocalyptic predictions of population growth overshooting
the carrying capacity of the planet have long been popular in
Northern environmental circles, particularly in the U.S. where
there has been a long relationship between the population lobby
and the mainstream environmental movement. Those seeking to shift
the blame for global warming from Northern consumption and production
patterns to poor people in the South often make use of alarmist
example, Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic
Survey, recently made headlines in the British press when he argued
that without significant population reduction, there was little
hope for effectively coping with climate change. The implicit
message is that women's fertility must be controlled. In the past,
such reasoning has contributed to the implementation of draconian
population policies deeply harmful to women's health and rights.
alarmism also figures in images of starving waves of global warming
refugees washing up on our shores, as illustrated in a 2003 Pentagon-commissioned
abrupt climate change scenario where reductions of carrying capacity
in overpopulated areas cause increasing wars, disease, starvation
and ultimately migration to the North. This kind of threat narrative
incorporates women into an overall menacing portrait of the Third
World poor and reinforces the authority of national security agencies
over civilian initiatives to tackle climate change.
way to challenge such military maneuvers is to focus on how militaries
themselves play a significant but neglected role in global warming
The Department of Defense is the largest single consumer of fuel
in the U.S., accounting for 1.8% of the nation's total transportation
fuel. This is no mean contribution to global warming, given that
the U.S. is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Militaries
elsewhere also disproportionately consume energy supplies; according
to one estimate, worldwide militaries collectively use the same
amount of petroleum products as Japan, one of the world's largest
economies. In the case of the U.S., the irony is that the military
is presently using vast amounts of oil to fuel a war in Iraq fought
at least in part to ensure future American control of oil supplies.
a gendered eye on both militarism and climate change raises a
number of inter-related questions. What are the gendered politics
of setting strategic and budgetary priorities? How do ideologies
of masculinity and networks of powerful men shape defense policies,
shield the military from the need to reduce fossil fuel use and
greenhouse gas emissions, and determine that spending on conventional
defense is a much higher priority than investing in clean energy
sources and technologies?
does male military culture impact consumer choice via products
like the Hummer and sustain wasteful energy-intensive lifestyles?
does a state of war undermine democratic freedoms, push women
out of the public arena and reduce the space for inclusive debate
on how to address global warming?
does militarism multiply and/or intensify women's vulnerabilities
to climate change? In the case of global warming-induced natural
disasters, for example, will the risk of sexual violence increase
if governments rely on military institutions to supply relief
and maintain order?
the more positive side, how can women's movements for peace and
the environment contribute to a broader vision of climate justice
and more practicable solutions that reduce emissions while increasing
the incomes and power of poor women and men?
are but a few of the questions we need to be asking to mount an
effective feminist and social justice challenge to business as
usual in the climate change arena.
Betsy Hartmann, ZNet Commentary, April 10, 2006
Betsy Hartmann is the director of the Population and Development
Program at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Recently, she is
co-author with Joni Seager of Mainstreaming Gender in Environmental
Assessment and Early Warning (UNEP 2005) and co-editor with Banu
Subramaniam and Charles Zerner of Making Threats: Biofears and
Environmental Anxieties (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005).