The Corporate Sector

Corporate activities drive deforestation processes. To distract from their role in forest destruction, corporations engage in public-private initiatives, preferably with conservation NGOs. These fora play a crucial role in greenwashing their image, and in implementing strategies to weaken community resistance to corporate destruction. The corporate sector lobbies governments and politicians, often aggressively, to obtain priority access to land, incentives and subsidies. Corporations also put pressure on international policy processes in order to protect and expand their profits.

This article shows what are the main programs and projects being promoted under the heading of Nature based Solutions (NbS), how they are related to REDD, who are the proponents and what are their interests.
This bulletin focuses on a central cause of large-scale deforestation and dispossession of forest peoples: The imposition of land concessions as an instrument to separate, divide and map land according to economic and political interests. In consequence, the editorial alerts on the grabbing of vast amounts of hectares for Carbon Concessions.
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.
British firms not only controlled 80 per cent of the established ‘logging lands’ in Thailand, but they also influenced the establishment of the Royal Forest Department, which came to have total power over the nation’s forests. Massive land grabs and various colonial laws made half the country’s territory into a colony of the central state.
What a certain historiography terms civilizational expansion or capital’s expansion has in fact been the invasion and de-territorialization of peoples and communities using much epistemic and territorial violence. Concessions have been granted in areas that are not demographic voids, a colonial concept that ignores the fact that they have been populated for millennia.
Many oil palm plantations’ concessions in West and Central Africa were built on lands stolen from communities during colonial occupations. This is the case in the DRC, where food company Unilever began its palm oil empire. Today, these plantations are still sites of on-going poverty and violence. It is time to end the colonial model of concessions and return the land to its original owners.
This text comes out of conversations with women from the Ribeira River Valley who have devoted themselves to opposing the concession of one of the region’s most important parks. Their struggle is fundamental, and part of diverse resistances against the privatizing trend of creating ‘territories without people’. They remind us that their territory has been and is rooted in their stories, voices and resistance.
Colonial and anti-colonial movements’ have deeply shaped the patterns and impacts of concessions in SE Asia. In some cases, communities have experienced dispossession through land grabs dressed as concessions. In others, concessions are part of a re-concentration of land holding. Either way, the concession model fits well with ideologies of modernisation.
The conservation industry is now promoting the idea of ‘buying up’ Conservation Concessions and reconstituting them as business models with profit-seeking aims. A case in point is the ‘African Parks Network’, which manages 19 National Parks and Protected Areas in 11 countries in Africa.
A Public Civil Action from the Prosecutor of Agrarian Justice in the state of Pará, Brazil, against the Jari Cellulose Group requested that part of their land titles be annulled.
An article from Mongabay news portal alerted the announcement of French oil giant Total Energies for developing a 40,000 hectare monoculture plantation in the savannahs of the Republic of Congo to offset its emissions.

Governments and transnational corporations backed up by multilateral financial institutions, together with Pacific Island nations, are racing to divide up the ocean under the narratives of so-called sustainable Blue Economy and Blue Growth, to justify its exploitation.