Stop the expansion of monoculture tree plantations !

Sep 2, 2009

This coming 21 September is the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations. Listen to the Declaration on YouTube, set to music, video clips and photo images. The clip was produced by Roy MacGregor from EcoDoc Africa.

Throughout the world, millions of hectares of productive land are rapidly being converted into green deserts presented under the guise of “forests”. Local communities are displaced to give way to endless rows of identical trees – eucalyptus, pine, oil palm, rubber, jatropha and other species - that displace most other forms of life from the area.

Farmland, which is crucial for the food sovereignty of local communities, is converted to monoculture tree plantations producing raw materials for export. Water resources become depleted and polluted by the plantations while soils become degraded. Human rights violations are rife, ranging from the loss of livelihoods and displacement to repression and even cases of torture and death. While communities suffer as a whole, plantations result in differentiated gender impacts, where women are the most affected. In spite of all the available evidence regarding the negative social and environmental impacts of these monocultures in countries like Brazil, South Africa, the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Colombia and Spain, they continue to be promoted by a coalition of actors ranging from the FAO to bilateral agencies, from the United Nations Forum on Forests to national governments, from consultancy firms to private and development banks. The real motive behind these actors' actions is simple: to grab people’s lands for corporations operating in the pulp and paper, timber, rubber, palm oil and recently also biochar (*) businesses, so that they can have access to more and cheaper raw material to increase their profits even further. Wasteful overconsumption of the products of these plantations by nations in the affluent North plays a big role in increasing their spread. In response to adverse publicity concerning the impacts of tree plantations, corporations have resorted to the use of certification schemes –such as FSC, PEFC, SFI, RSPO (**)- that provide them with false “green” credentials that enable them to continue business as usual. The problem has been further compounded with the arrival of new corporate actors aiming at profiting from climate change by promoting false solutions through the establishment of so-called “carbon sink” plantations, the promotion of agrofuels – agrodiesel and wood ethanol- and the introduction of genetically engineered trees. However, corporate plans are facing increased opposition. In country after country, people are standing up to oppose the expansion of tree plantations and a worldwide movement has been growing over the years, bringing together the numerous local struggles and helping to raise the voices of those who suffer from plantations.

On this International Day Against Tree Monocultures in 2009, the message is loud and clear: Plantations are not forests: stop the expansion of monoculture tree plantations!

(*) Biochar: charcoal which would be buried in the soil where it is supposed to act as a fertiliser and as a carbon store

(**) FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes), SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)

The full list of signatories is available at WRM website