Struggles Against Tree Monocultures

Corporate profit drives land grabs to install industrial tree monocultures. Where industrial plantations take root, communities' territories and lives are violently invaded, their forests destroyed and their water polluted. When communities resist, companies tend to respond with aggression. Despite this extreme violence, communities around the world are resisting, organizing and joining forces to defend their territories.

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!
This bulletin highlights materials and analysis related to communities’ struggles against industrial tree plantations. It also pays homage to communities in DRC struggling to get their lands back from an oil palm company since colonial times. Their courageous struggle showcases the multiple layers of oppression and violations that result from the plantation model.
Industrial tree plantations have always been about corporate control over community fertile lands. The monoculture model inherently endangers communities’ survival, food sovereignty and autonomy, deepens the violence of patriarchy and racism while enforcing the same destructive and oppressive way of organizing land (and thus, people) as the one enforced during the colonial era.
The network that brings together movements, organizations and communities in the fight against tree plantations met in the Far South of the State of Bahia. This September 21st, it once again denounced the impacts of this violent and unjust model, which is based on large-scale plantations mostly for pulp export.
The oil palm plantations of BIDCO, a company partially owned by Wilmar, in Kalangala Island, Uganda, generated devastating impacts. The company plans to expand to Buvuma Island, however, they keep confronting strong organized opposition! Watch a short video with testimonies of resistance from Buvuma Island.
On the occasion of September 21st, 2022, the International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, WRM launched the briefing “12 Replies to 12 Lies about Industrial Tree Plantations”.
The Informal Alliance Against the Expansion of Industrial Oil Palm Plantations in West and Central Africa released a declaration to keep breaking the silence of the many abuses around industrial plantations and to reaffirm their strong commitment to resist their expansion in the defence of their territories and lives.
The quilombola communities of Sapê do Norte, Brazil, are living a violent process with the expansion of large-scale eucalyptus monoculture. After many hardships, they started a process to take back their water and land. And the struggle to take back what is theirs continues. WRM talked to two quilombola activists to reflect on this difficult but fertile process of resistance.
Industrial palm oil production in West and Central Africa is mainly controlled by five multinational corporations, and could continue expansion. Plantations take up large tracts of land. Land and water are interdependent. Yet, the current water crisis in these territories would not exist if corporations had not grabbed the land from communities.
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.
In Brazil, oil palm plantations are expanding rapidly, mainly in the Amazonian state of Pará. BBF (Brasil BioFuels), the largest oil palm company in Brazil, stands accused of environmental crimes and violence against indigenous, quilombola and peasant communities such as Virgílio Serrão Sacramento, a community linked to the Small Farmers’ Movement (MPA).
More than 10 million hectares in Indonesia are controlled by the pulp and paper industry, mainly by two giant corporations: APP and APRIL. Despite the companies’ commitments to protect forests and peatland, both keep being associated with deforestation, forest fires and to a business model of violence, criminalization and dispossession of forest communities. (Available in Bahasa Indonesia)