Struggles Against Tree Monocultures

On the eve of March 21, the day FAO celebrates its International Day of sustainable forest destruction, WRM is releasing a briefing that looks back at a UN-led process on the Underlying Causes of Deforestation that took place more than 20 years ago. The Underlying Causes identified in 1999 do not only remain as significant today as they were. They have even been reinforced in many ways.
We invite you to reflect with an activist who explores resistance processes and the challenges they face, based on her experience with struggles in Brazil. In this reflection, we also invite you to join the collective resistance from your own contexts and spaces of organization. The fight continues and the fight is one!
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.
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 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.
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.

(Only available in French) Polices et militaires tirent à balles réelles sur des ouvriers de la Société FERONIA/PHC en grève à la plantation de Boteka.

We invite you to reflect with an activist who explores resistance processes and the challenges they face, based on her experience with struggles in Brazil.