The 7th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Climate Change was held in Morocco from October 29 to November 9, 2001. On October 31, forest activists from the Global Forest Coalition and announced in a side event three nominations for the "Treetanic Award".
The "Treetanic Award" is handed over during the climate negotiations to the companies implementing the worst carbon sink projects, such as the monoculture tree plantations which are currently being implemented to avoid reduction of CO2 emissions.
While handing over the award, the group of forest activists expressed their fears that the decisions on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry that were adopted at the resumed 6th Conference of the Parties of the Climate Change Convention last July will lead to the development of large-scale monoculture tree plantations. These plantations are highly detrimental from a biodiversity perspective and they often lead to the displacement of Indigenous Peoples, to deforestation, land degradation and other social conflicts. They also distract attention from the long-term solution to climate change: a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The three companies awarded the "Treetanic Award" were:
1. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Australian North Forest Products company (recently taken over by Guns Ltd.), for their plantation investments in the Australian State of Tasmania. North Forest Products has a long history of replacing Australia’s native forest and rainforest with softwood and hardwood plantations. TEPCO’s A$ 10 million investment in North Forest Products will expand the current Tasmanian Tamar Tree Farm program by 3000 hectares of monoculture eucalyptus plantation.
2. The French company Peugeot and the French Forestry Department for their “Marathon Vert” reforestation project in the Brazilian State of Matto Grosso. On the basis of technical advice by the French Forestry Department, the area --which is located in the middle of the rainforest, was first treated with the dangerous pesticide Roundup, which led to the death of many turtles and other forest animals. The project is a typical example of a greenwash initiative by a major polluting company that could have contributed much more to mitigating climate change if it had brought advanced technology instead of trees to the developing countries.
3. Coillte, the State-owned Irish Forestry Company, for its plans to afforest peatland, a highly precious ecosystem from a biodiversity perspective. Peatland afforestation is known to lead to carbon emissions because the drainage of peatland exposes soil carbon to oxidation. However the Irish government has stated that it is not concerned about these effects, as they would only affect their carbon balance if the clearance takes place between 2008 – 2012.
In order to avoid taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, companies are beginning to cover large areas of the planet with millions of hectares of environmentally destructive large scale monoculture tree plantations. Do they still not know the difference between a Sink and a Tree? Do they not know the social and environmental impacts of plantations? Just in case they don't, the aim of this award is to help to teach them the difference.