Woody biomass is marketed as a clean energy, but it is another false solution to the climate crisis. Not only is carbon released when trees are burned; the demand for charcoal for industrial uses, and wood chips and pellets for heating or electricity generation are driving expansion of monoculture tree plantations, particularly in the global South.
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In June 2019, a report from the AfDB and WWF Kenya made a call to development-funding agencies, mainly from Europe, and the World Bank, to provide aid money to a new Fund for financing 100,000 hectares of (new) industrial tree plantations, to support the potential development of 500,000 hectares, in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Industrial tree plantation projects in Mozambique are gaining more and more ground in processes of land acquisition and dispute. The Portuguese company, Portucel, has a “reforestation” plan through 2026 that aims to cover 356 thousand hectares.
This article gives an overview on the industrial tree plantation expansion threat in eastern and southern African countries, its external drivers, as well as the challenges this expansion presents to affected communities struggling to defend their land and livelihoods.