The following Statement was issued on 24/11/05 in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil at an international meeting on building support for local communities against large-scale tree plantations and GMO trees. This meeting was co-sponsored by World Rainforest Movement, FASE-ES and Global Justice Ecology Project.
Bulletin Issue 101 - December 2005
Monoculture tree plantations
THE FOCUS OF THIS ISSUE: MONOCULTURE TREE PLANTATIONSLarge-scale monoculture tree plantations are being promoted in the South by a broad array of governments, international institutions and corporate actors. Local communities are being impacted by those plantations and are fighting back to regain control over their territories. Given the negative social and environmental impacts these plantations entail, the WRM organized an International Meeting on Plantations (together with FASE-ES and GJEP) which was held on 21-25 November 2005 in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil. The meeting brought together experiences from people working in different countries and issues related to plantations. In this bulletin we include a summarized version of most of the meeting’s presentations as a means of sharing information and analysis with all the bulletin’s readers.
LINKING WITH FOREST PEOPLES RIGHTS
9 December 2005The Mumbai-Porto Alegre (MPA) Forest Initiative is intended to serve as a platform for the joining of forces and for the building of solidarity between actors working on a wide spectrum of issues related to social and environmental justice and forests. As economic globalisation is increasingly affecting local communities, the need to create a global movement for ensuring peoples’ rights and forest conservation became an imperative that a number of participants to the World Social Forum decided to set in motion. This young and diverse movement currently comprising some 80 organisations, networks and individuals supports all levels of resistance against plantations.
CORPORATE “SOLUTIONS”: CARBON PLANTATIONS AND GE TREES
9 December 2005From its beginnings in 1986, the World Rainforest Movement has been concerned about how forests, land and rural peoples’ lives are affected by industrial production of a whole range of commodities – soya, paper pulp, petroleum, timber, palm oil, maize, bananas, coffee and many more. So it was only fitting that, in the mid-1990s, WRM began sounding alarms about another, brand-new export market that could also come to have severe effects on forests and the people who depend on them: the trade in biological carbon-cycling capacity. How did this particular “environmental service” become a new Third World export product?
9 December 2005The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports outdoor field trials of GM trees worldwide in 16 countries. While the majority are located in the United States, there are also GE tree test plots in France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia, Chile and Brazil. China is the only country known to have developed commercial plantations of GM trees, with well over one million trees planted throughout ten provinces. Most of the research is being focused on Poplars (47%), Pines (19%) and Eucalyptus (7%). The main traits being studied are herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, wood chemistry (including reduction of lignin content), and fertility.
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES, SIMILAR PROBLEMS
9 December 2005The recent international meeting of the World Rainforest Movement to take stock of its activities and to reelaborate its strategies in the struggle against large-scale industrial tree monocultures, chose a symbolic place to be held - the State of Espírito Santo in Brazil.
9 December 2005Proponents of industrial tree plantations argue that plantations are "reforestation", increasing the area of forest, providing jobs for local people, or reducing pressure on natural forests. The reality in Cambodia exposes these arguments for propaganda. Cambodia's Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has handed out vast areas of land concessions, many to his business acquaintances and friends. While Cambodia's 2001 Land Law limits the size of land concessions to 10,000 hectares, many of the concessions are far in excess of this area.
9 December 2005Lumaco (which means “Moon water”) is a community of passage located in a large area of tree plantations and impoverished communities. Very little about it invites you to stay. Lumaco is part of the communes known in Chile as forestry communes. The community’s future vision set out in its 2000-2006 Plan for Communal Development states that it hopes for “a commune where poverty has been overcome, clean and orderly, fruitful and progressive, with development and unity, with expectations, with intercultural and diverse education, with a good quality of life for its Mapuche and non-Mapuche inhabitants.” We will take a brief look at its history.
9 December 2005In Ecuador three models of monoculture tree plantations coexist: the erroneously called “carbon sinks” belonging to the Dutch foundation FACE, the pine tree plantations in Andean communities promoted by organizations linked to the Church and the pulpwood plantation model. In this article we shall concentrate on this latter and more recent model.
9 December 2005Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) is one of the world's largest pulp and paper companies. The company is responsible for large-scale deforestation of Indonesia's forests. APP has also generated a number of not-yet-settled conflicts with local communities in Indonesia. Forthcoming research by Rully Syumanda, Friends of the Earth Indonesia/WALHI's forest campaigner and Rivani Noor of the Community Alliance for Pulp Paper Advocacy (CAPPA) documents the company's grim record in Sumatra.
9 December 2005"Rural people are very knowledgeable, but they don't have degrees. Neither do they speak the 'right' language. This study helps me to empower the community. I see myself as a voice of the voiceless, committed to the struggle for the advancement of the dignity of our people," John Blessing Karumbidza said, opening his presentation in Vitória. Born in rural Zimbabwe, Karumbidza is a Junior Lecturer in Economic History at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. He was commissioned by Timberwatch to carry out research into the impacts of tree plantations on rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa.
9 December 2005In 1994, the FACE Foundation signed an agreement with the Ugandan authorities to plant trees on 25,000 hectares inside Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda. FACE is working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), which is responsible for the management of Uganda's National Parks. The FACE Foundation (Forests Absorbing Carbon dioxide Emissions) was set up in 1990 by the Dutch electricity generating board with the aim of planting trees to absorb and store carbon, supposedly to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions from a new power station to be built in the Netherlands.
9 December 2005The negative impacts of tree plantations on forests and forest peoples have been highlighted by WRM since its creation in 1986. The 1989 “Penang Declaration” which set out the shared vision of the WRM's members, identified tree plantations as “part of the policies and practices leading to deforestation throughout the world in the name of development”. The above was not an intellectual “discovery” but the result of the identification of local struggles that were being carried out in India against tree plantations. Analysis of and support to those struggles led to include the issue in WRM’s agenda.
9 December 2005“The city of Vitoria in Brazil, owes its name to the “victory” of the colonialist Portuguese against the original indigenous inhabitants of the land. Today, the same name has a totally different meaning. The indigenous Tupinikim and Guarani peoples have retaken the lands that were stolen from them by the giant pulp mill corporation Aracruz Cellulose. They have been joined in the struggle against the company and its plants by other local communities and organizations from civil society who, through uniting in the struggle, have weakened the company’s power. They have thus become a symbol of victory for peoples all over the world who are fighting against similar corporations.”