The oil palm tree is native to West Africa. It is an important tree for forest-dependent communities, their cultures and their economies. However, large-scale oil palm monocultures for industrial production (oil and agrofuels) have been driving deforestation and land grabbing in Southeast Asia. More recently, oil palm monocultures are also driving destruction in Africa and Latin America.
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WRM spoke with close allies from Brazil, Gabon, India, Mexico and Mozambique, to hear from them and learn about their understandings of development.
Why haven't Africa's post-colonial governments dismantled the colonial plantation model of exploitation and extraction, returned the lands to their people and emboldened a resurgence of Africa's diverse, local food and farming systems?
European development banks have financed a plantation company in DRC that is built on injustice and violence dating back to a colonial-era land grab. When the company went bankrupt in 2020, the banks chose to uphold the plantation model.
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.
Violence, massacre and forced displacement in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia have served to advance the industrial cultivation of oil palm. Palm-producing company Poligrow has an undeniable role in land-grabbing and intimidation in the municipality of Mapiripán.
It is a day for organizations, networks and movements to celebrate resistance and raise their voices to demand, “Stop the Expansion of Monoculture Tree Plantations!"
While palm oil companies present themselves as benevolent donors during the pandemic, communities living in and around these plantations tell another story. Activists against industrial oil palm plantations talk about communities’ situation since the Covid-19 outbreak.
More than 100 years ago, lands were stolen from communities in DR Congo for industrial oil palm production. Since 2009, those lands are under control of the company FERONIA.
Back in 2004, conservation NGOs and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry pioneered with a model called Ecosystem Restoration Concessions. This article takes a closer look at this model in the context of new and old threats to forests, and the global push for “forest restoration”. (Available in Indonesian).