Carbon Storage

Monoculture tree plantations are said to provide the “ecosystem service” of carbon storage, which is promoted as a solution to halt climate chaos. But carbon is only stored in the trees for a short time, until they are cut down. Therefore, relying on plantations to store carbon is a false solution to avoiding climate chaos. Carbon offset plantations allow polluting companies to continue burning fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are at the root of the climate chaos – but the conditions for this crisis have been created by the interconnections and dependencies between colonialism, racism, patriarchy and class exploitation. To address climate chaos, therefore, it is necessary to address the unequal relationships of power upon which a fossil-fuel dependent capitalism is based.
The control of land was vital to colonisers. It meant wealth, territorial influence, access to ‘resources’ and cheap (and often enslaved) labour. The separation of indigenous inhabitants from their territories was a crucial component that persists until today. The effect of this history continues to influence the management of and conflicts over land.

Suzano was present at the 2021 UN climate negotiations for one main reason: to promote tree plantations as a ‘solution’ to climate change, under the name of ‘nature-based solutions’. It aims to profiteer ever more from the so-called climate policies.

Tupinikim indigenous leaders, in Brazil, share the experience of their people in the struggle against one of the largest eucalyptus plantation and pulp production companies in the world, Aracruz Celulose – currently named Suzano Papel e Celulose.

Green Resources Tanzania Limited (GRL)claims to offer solutions to climate change through planting monoculture trees. This wrong and misleading claim hides the reality on the ground: land grabbing, deforestation, destruction of grasslands and much social harm.

On the frontlines of the promotion of monoculture tree plantations as a solution to the climate crisis, families affected by tree plantations in Mozambique, Tanzania and Brazil, have once again denounced the serious impacts on their lives and the environment.

More than 10,000 people have been evicted to make way for the UK-registered New Forests Company (NFC)’s tree plantations, which are established and financed under the carbon market framework.

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.

The large-scale plantations from UK-based New Forests Company (NFC) have meant violence for thousands of residents from Mubende, Uganda. More than 15 years after the company began its operations, affected communities still confront the long-lasting and severe damages.

A key tactic for the giant pulp producer, Suzano S.A, to keep expanding its industrial eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, is to market itself as a company that practices “conservation” and “restoration.” This conceals its disastrous track record related to forest and forest-dwelling populations.

This editorial aims to raise a high alert with regard to the corporate agendas that dominate international forest-related processes, which appear to be entering new phases. The decisions taken have very real impacts on forest communities.

A long cycle of state repression in India now sees new amendments to the colonial Indian Forest Act which would not only make forest bureaucracy more powerful than ever, but would also de facto put an end to the landmark Forest Rights Act.