Groups Call for Action on 21 September: International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2008  2:30 PM

CONTACT: World Rainforest Movement, Friends of the Earth International, Global
Forest Coalition
Ricardo Carrere, World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay: (+598) 2 413 2989
rcarrere@wrm.org.uy
Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, Paraguay: simonelovera@yahoo.com
595-21-663654/ 595-981-407375
Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International, Costa Rica: (+506) 8338-3204

Groups Call for Action on 21 September: International Day Against Monoculture Tree
Plantations

INTERNATIONAL – September 18 – Large-scale monoculture tree plantations cause
serious environmental, social and economic impacts on local communities.  These
impacts have been amply documented around the world, and include the depletion of
water sources due to changes in the hydrological cycle; deterioration of rivers and
streams; air and water pollution due to the use of pesticides and other agrochemicals;
the displacement of entire communities when their land is occupied by plantations;
violations of human, labour and environmental rights; differentiated impacts on
women; the deterioration of cultural diversity; widespread violence; and the
critical loss of biodiversity. For that reason, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples’
Organisations and social movements all over the world will commemorate the
International Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations this weekend by organizing
actions, demonstrations, marches and sending out joint letters to express their
concerns. (1)

Sandy Gauntlett of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition, states:
“Tree plantations are not forests. A plantation is a highly uniform agricultural
system that replaces natural ecosystems and their rich biodiversity. The trees
planted are geared to the production of a single raw material, whether it is timber,
pulp, rubber, palm oil or others. Nevertheless, international institutions like the
FAO and the World Bank, as well as government agencies in countries like New
Zealand, incorrectly define plantations as forests, despite abundant documentation
that proves that the only thing they have in common is the presence of trees. By
calling them forests, these institutions and governments help to impose and
perpetuate an unsustainable monoculture plantation production model.”

“Plantations form part of an industrial model for the production of abundant and
cheap raw material that serves as an input for the economic growth of the
industrialized countries. What the producer countries get are environmental
degradation and rising poverty, which are the ‘externalized costs’ of this cheap raw
material,” stressed Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition.

“On the lands currently occupied by plantations, there used to be or could be
agricultural crops that would help ensure the people’s food sovereignty, managed by
peasant communities. Or these communities and indigenous peoples could use the land
for sustainable activities that would improve their quality of life, such as community
forest management,” added Isaac Rojas of Friends of the Earth
International. (2)

The struggle waged by local communities against tree monocultures has become a part
of daily life in countries around the world. It is a struggle that none of these
communities asked for, but one that has been imposed on them. In Asia and the
Pacific, local communities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are fighting
against oil palm plantations. In Africa, there are struggles against plantations that
produce rubber, palm oil and wood pulp in Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, Swaziland
and South Africa. And in Latin America, countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile,
Ecuador and Uruguay are suffering the impacts of “green deserts” of pine and
eucalyptus trees, while Colombia is now facing the rapid expansion of palm oil
plantations for agrofuel production, as are Venezuela and the countries of Central
America.

To make matters worse, large-scale tree plantations are being promoted – falsely –
as a solution for climate change. On the one hand, the European Parliament and other
institutions are promoting the so-called second generation of biofuels (3) produced
from wood, which would lead to the rapid and wide expansion of tree monocultures,
including transgenic trees. (4) On the other hand, some southern countries view a
potential fund under the Framework Convention on Climate Change as a possible source
of financing for large tree plantations as carbon sinks to compensate for the loss
of forests. As a result, mechanisms like REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation
in Developing Countries) could be turned into a massive subsidy scheme for
plantations.

“All ‘international days’ refer to problems of global importance that need the
world’s attention. The expansion of large-scale tree monoculture plantations is one
of these problems. That is why this 21 September will give greater visibility to the
great many struggles being waged around the world and demonstrate the negative
impacts of this model, and the world will have the opportunity to join in this
struggle,” explains Ricardo Carrere of the World Rainforest Movement (WRM). “21
September is also the International Day of Peace, and this is what the people waging
this struggle are fighting for: Peace, so that the communities affected can recover
their way of life in harmony with Nature and with other people.” he added. “This 21
September, we will also celebrate the fertile resistance that is growing in so many
communities every day of the year, in pursuit of a world with justice and without
these destructive plantations.”

NOTES:

(1) All of these impacts have been documented in many publications, case studies and
declarations made by the communities themselves. For more information see the World
Rainforest Movement website: www.wrm.org.uy

(2) Community forest management has been documented as a sustainable livelihood
initiative by Friends of the Earth International. For more information see their website:
www.foei.org

(3) For a more thorough analysis of the problems associated with agrofuel
plantations see the Global Forest Coalition website at:
www.globalforestcoalition.org

(4) More information on transgenic trees is available at www.wrm.org.uy,
www.foei.org, www.globalforestcoalition.org

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