Legal Land Theft

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.
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.
The book, Une écologie décoloniale' (a decolonial ecology), written by Malcom Ferdinand, presents an analysis of how we cannot understand the current environmental crisis without knowing colonial history.
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.

The Balik People will bear the impacts of the plans to build a New Capital City mega-project in Borneo, Indonesia. Government officials and business elites in the country are certainly among those who will enjoy the benefits.
Available in Bahasa Indonesia.

The false idea that industrial plantations are a solution to the climate crisis is a golden opportunity for investment funds like Arbaro, which access scarce climate funding for expanding destructive monocultures.

The UN Land-Grabbing Summit in Glasgow made it once again clear that these spaces will never advance the already existing solutions to the climate crisis.