Thirty organizations extended a letter to the official dispute resolution office of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), with a seat in Germany, for certifications granted to forestry companies in Chile, without addressing cases of human rights violations and socio-environmental impacts on different territories.
October 27th, 2017
Dear Officer Dispute Resolution of FSC Internacional / Alemania
To our Network, the activities of the forestry industry, especially in or near Mapuche territories, are of primary concern:
In the context of the recent FSC certification of certain parts of the forestry industry - especially CMPC, Arauco and MASISA - we want to inform you of our strong rejection of and concern with the granting of this certificate to these companies. In anterior exchanges with FCS we have voiced our criticisms of the practices of these companies that violate the human rights of Mapuche communities, and affect the environment, especially the water resources, the biodiversity, and the existence of plants of medical and alimentary use to the Mapuche communities.
To contextualize historically, the contemporary forestry regime in Chile is based in the controversial Law Decree No. 701 of 1974, imposed by the military government in a historical moment in which any civic opposition was impossible. Members of the opposition were persecuted, tortured, assassinated or forcibly exiled, and Mapuche communities were targeted particularly violently. Furthermore, the enforcement of Decree no. 701 should be understod within the context of the ‘agricultural counter reform’. This was a process in which the military dictatorship returned the property of lands, handed over to peasant and Mapuche communities by former democratic governments, to their former owners, these being large estate holders and forestry companies, with the specific aim of forestry exploitation. The disputes over these lands of the agricultural counter reform, today in the hands of the forestry industry, are the core of the conflict between the Chilean state and Mapuche communities, that for years has generated a state of militarization, criminalization, and violations of the human rights of Mapuche peasants.
Currently, diverse actors ranging from academics, local indigenous and non-indigenous communities, environmental organizations, human rights organizations and politicians recognize that the forestry regime installed by Decree 701 has produced a concentration of activities of forestry exploitation and the property of plantation fields in three private companies, these being Arauco, CMPC (among the largest producers globally), and MASISA. Today two forest companies posses more lands in the Chilean central south than do all of the Mapuche communities combined. As a consequence of this development, rural migration to cities is rapidly increasing, as is the precarization of employments, and the reduction of non-timber forest production, the replacement of native forest to one-species plantations in certain territories. The popular argument in favor of the Decree 701, that it has permitted the reforesting of agricultural lands, omits the fact that the decree promotes monocultural production for the export economy rather than cultivation of native forest. Today the forestry activity concentrated in these three companies only makes up 3% of the GDP, does not contribute with tax payment in the municipalities in which they operate (the poorest of the country), and amount to 50% of the total export of the agricultural sector. In spite of the social and political conflicts evidently caused by the industry and the scarce contribution to local development it offers, local political actors in the Araucanía region have named forestry the primary economic vocation in the region.
Furthermore, in the beginning of this year wildfires of an unprecedented magnitude erupted in Chile. These fires revealed two aspects of the problems caused by Chile’s forestry model: the racism against Mapuche communities and the scarce state regulation of the operations of the forest companies. The racism against the Mapuche communities was expressed through the false information that circulated on social media during the wildfires and accused the Mapuche communities of having caused the them. The scarce government regulation became evident when several social organizations, including our Network, provided verified information of the existence of phytosanitary measures against the sirex woodwasp and megarhyssa nortoni plagues in the forestal lands of the Maule region, which is stated in internal resolutions of the government organism Agricultural and Ranching Service (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero).
This informations is not new to the FSC, as it has previously been provided by the Working Group of Collective Rights in 2011 and by the Konapewman Mapuche Group and several internatonal organizations. Some of the damages suffered by the Mapuche Communities have even been recognized by the certifying organisms of the FSC.
In spite of all of the above, and in spite of the fact that the FSC certification was established with the explicit objective to promote sustainability in forestry activities globally, these companies still obtain the certification FSC from the internationally recognized certifying organs. Our surprise and frustration is further sparked by the fact that these companies have been certified without haven gained the “previous, free and informed consent” from the Mapuche communities. This right was established in the “Principles and Criteria for the Forest Protection FSC-STD-01-001 (V5-0)” of 2012, more particularly Principle No. 3 “Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, which includes the right to “previous, free and informed consent”.
Although we realize that these certifications were given on the basis of principles, criteria and indicators previous to 2012, we believe that the gravity of the accusations against the forest companies, and the seriousness of the situations facing the affected Mapuche communities are such that the FSC cannot justify these certifications by such technocratic reasoning. Furthermore we are aware that the same certifying organ, Rainforest Alliance, that granted the certification to Chilean companies reversed the FSC certification of the Canadian forest company Resolute Forest Product in 2013, due to the lack of previous, free and informed consent from the indigenous community Cri.
We also are aware that some of the certifying organisations, among them Rainforest Alliance, have been accused of bad labour practices in other countries (for example in Honduras by the Worker’s Union of the Banana Industry (SITRAINBA), affiliated with the Federation of Agroindustrial Worker’s Unions (FESAGRO)). This reduces the legitimacy of the certification process of these key actors of the forestry regime.
We know that the FSC was created to promote sustainable forestry and that on a global scale is the main organization in establishing higher and stricter social, environmental and economical standards. We are also aware that the FSC is under pressure from forest companies and local communities that question it’s ability to certify the forestry production.
We also believe that in order for the FSC to fulfil their original goal and not transform itself into a mere ‘green license’ facilitating the sales rates of the forest companies without having changed the operations that violate indigenous peoples’ rights, an urgent change of practices is necessary. This involves reexamining procurements, indicators and verifications, and reversing the certifications that have not satisfactorily proven to be based on the previous, free and informed consent of the affected Mapuche communities, and incorporating indigenous participation into the governmental structures of the FSC at a national as well as Latin American level.
-Network for Territorial Defense (Red de Defensa de los Territorios), the Araucanía Region / The Network of Territorial Defence (Red de Defensa de los Territorios) is formed by diverse Mapuche and non-Mapuche communities in the Araucanía region with the objective to coordinate the defence of our territories, environment and ways of living.
-Movimiento por el agua y territorios, zonal sur
RED POR LOS DERECHOS DE INFANCIA – WALLMAPU
Parlamento Mapuche de Koz Koz
Red organización sociales y ambientales Panguipulli
Red de medios de los pueblos
Red defensa territorios Región de los Ríos
Coordinadora defensa territorios, Los Lagos
Coordinadora Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche – Valdivia
Red Eco Sur
Agrupación defensa y conservación Maule – Mataquito
Asamblea Acción por Tirúa
Semanario Aurora Roja
Ruta de las semillas
Colectivo Informativo Mapuexpress
Grupo de Trabajo por Derechos Colectivos
Movimiento Salud para todos
Coordinadora Defensa Territorios del Bio Bio
Observatorio Latinoamericano de conflictos ambientales (Olca)
Comité Defensa del Borde Costero Cobquecura - Ñuble
Centro estudios sociales de Chiloé (CESCH)
Organización Sociocultural Aitue
Coordinadora Melipulli, Puerto Montt
LofMapu Kañikú, Alto Bio Bio
1. Celulosas forestales y casos de contaminación
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