Seeds of Hope

What are the solutions to forest destruction?” “What are the alternatives?” Questions like these are often raised to squash possible debate that could lead to real solutions to deforestation and climate chaos. The way forward starts with ending the assault on forest peoples and their ways of life, and learning about their relationships with their territories. For generations, forest-dependent communities have lived in and with forests, and have protected them.

The Independent Producers of Piray (PIP) in Misiones, Argentina was formed in 2005 to stop the advance of multinational Arauco’s pine tree monocultures and reclaim the land. WRM spoke with Miriam Samudio, a key member of the PIP family, to reflect on the process of the struggle and the lessons learned.

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.

Indigenous Karen People from Bang Kloi returned to their ancestral home in the Kaeng Krachan forests, after years of dispossession due to the creation of a National Park. Karen communities are mobilizing in solidarity to the Bang Kloi communities’ right to return home.

Most governments, NGOs and corporations are promoting more Protected Areas and conservation areas around the world. But what does conservation mean? Marlon Santi of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku explains to us what the Amazonian peoples of Ecuador consider to be conservation.

With the Covid-19 crisis, the initiatives of movements and collectives based on feminist economics have gained strength. Feminist economics leads us to reflect on the updated mechanisms of control, while continuing to affirm the capacity for resistance and reconstruction of bodies in movement.

The conservation industry’s plan to double the size of Protected Areas (PAs) is supposed to be the solution to biodiversity loss, climate change, and now even COVID-19! Although PAs will solve none of these, if the conservation industry keeps repeating a big lie, people will eventually come to believe it.

When the Chure region was declared a Protected Area, the rights of thousands of Community Forest Groups were undermined. They keep resisting despite the overall violence and the accepted project from the Green Climate Fund.

A group of riparian Batwa people, exasperated by the extreme poverty following their eviction in order to establish the Kahuzi Biega National Park, decided to return to their ancestral forests. Since then, they regularly clash with the “eco-guards,” sometimes leading to the loss of human lives.

The inter-dependencies in and among communities with their life spaces and practices sheds light to the conservation practices of forest communities. And within these interdependencies lie the stories of women.

The indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé people had to endure brutal repression to avoid the onslaught on their territories. They managed to get the Government to ban mining and hydroelectric dams in their territory. However, another intense onslaught came from conservationist NGOs.

Plantation companies often argue that local populations are destroying the forests, particularly where people depend on firewood and/or charcoal for their energy needs. Thus, they argue, industrial plantations can “sustainably” provide this wood. But this is simply not true.

Women’s struggle for full and dignified recognition of their lives and territories starts with not allowing the extractive model to progress. However, it must be resolved by the need for women to be able to make decisions to strengthen collective political control.