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10 years of the International Day to Combat Monoculture Tree Plantations

10 years of the International Day to Combat Monoculture Tree Plantations

This year, September 21 was also a day of great mobilizations for Climate Justice. Thousands of people joined the Peoples' Climate Mobilization, while political representatives - and increasingly also corporate representatives - gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, USA, to attend the Climate Summit convened by the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. This summit represents yet another step towards corporate capture of the United Nations climate negotiations, as well as the privatization of land, water and air, with the promise of reaching an agreement on climate issues.

The initiative called ‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’ will be launched at this summit by the United Nations and other international agencies. This concept is an empty phrase that is being used to green the worst practices of industrial agriculture: synthetic fertilizers, industrial meat production and genetically modified crops, such as tree plantations or monocultures, camouflaged as' climate smart. ' Supporters of this dangerous false solution, such as the World Bank, are seeking to convert the carbon from peasant fields into carbon credits, which would lead to an increase in land grabbing and undermining the true solutions to land use. climate crisis.

The advance of large-scale plantations of eucalyptus, pine, acacia, rubber and oil palm trees - which could be defined as 'climate smart' if the proposal being discussed at the Climate Summit in New York is successful - it is actually a process of deepening the accumulation of capital promoted by companies - many times transnational and growing - on the territories. Some of these companies are Stora Enso, UPM, Arauco, APP / Sinar Mas, APRIL, Bridgestone / Firestone, Wilmar, Olam and Sime Darby. Production is for industrial and export purposes, and expansion has occurred at a devastating rate. Since 1980, the area of ​​these plantations in the world has quadrupled, with a growth particularly of eucalyptus and palm monocultures in the South. Had it not been for the resistance of peasants, indigenous peoples and other communities in many places and countries, this expansion would probably have been even greater.

Transnational companies are the main responsible for the problems caused by plantations: the taking over of territories and common goods; the destruction of biodiverse areas and associated life forms; the drying and pesticide contamination of rivers, streams and wells; soil depletion and erosion; degrading working conditions; a growing process of financialization of nature on land and production. However, these companies not only persist in systematically denying and covering up all these processes of social and environmental injustice, but they also consider themselves part of the ‘solutions’ to these problems. Some of the false market solutions, or rather, the solutions for financial capitalism itself, increase the injustices associated with monocultures, with a series of initiatives that legitimize business operations without holding them accountable for the crimes and violations committed. Some examples of this deception are the 'green' certification seals such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), the 'forest dialogue' tables, where civil society and corporations forge voluntary corporate commitments, and other so-called 'sustainable' initiatives such as false commitments to 'zero deforestation'. While these initiatives may result in actions that lead to some short-term improvements in favor of communities, they have mainly led to frustration and division of communities by promising 'rewards' that do not meet the key demands to secure their ways of life, such as the return and respect of their territories, and that allow the perpetuation of environmental injustices caused by monocultures.

These initiatives are ‘voluntary’, that is, they are not legally binding and, therefore, are not governed by a democratic institutional framework that aims to protect the rights of those affected. Thus, without seeking to change the destructive logic of capital, these initiatives end up legitimizing the expansion of a production model that we can call neocolonial, since it destroys forms of life, is structured based on environmental racism and does not question some of its characteristics. basic, such as land concentration and production in the form of large-scale monoculture with the use of poisons and degrading working conditions. Furthermore, the ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ initiatives and commitments do not prevent large companies from continuing to further expand plantations on the territories.

A dimension of increasing severity is the monoculture of 'flexible' trees (flex trees), that is, trees that generate different uses and / or commodities (production of energy, wood, food, carbon sequestration, etc.), perceived as interchangeable . This ‘flexible’ character is mainly of interest to financial capital, which increasingly promotes, together with the transnational monoculture tree plantations, speculation on the control of production and land use. These companies continue to insist on the commercial use of transgenic trees, on other uses of wood for energy purposes and to sell "environmental services," such as carbon. All of these are false solutions to the environmental and climate crisis facing human societies today and end up deepening injustices and further spreading hunger and misery. Monocultures and transgenic crops are not smart, but one more strategy of ‘green’ capitalism to monopolize the territories of the peoples, undermining those who build the true solutions to the climate, social and environmental crises.

To face the impacts that large companies and the expansion of plantations cause, we must continue pushing the transformation of this production model and fighting against the neoliberal policies imposed in favor of capital. An important step is for us to join forces in the framework of the “Campaign to Dismantle the Power of the Transnationals” to build and strengthen the instruments that end the architecture of impunity and legitimation that companies enjoy today. The Campaign starts from the struggles of the communities that resist the invasion of their territories by the transnationals or that fight to expel the transnationals from their territory, affirming the right of the peoples to self-determination of their ways of life. Agrarian reform and the recognition and demarcation of indigenous territories and other traditional and peasant populations around the world are the actions that are urgently needed to advance the fight for food sovereignty, social and environmental justice, and to build popular power.

We cannot end this statement without paying tribute to the women and men around the world who fight daily and in different ways against monoculture tree plantations, and who have already achieved important victories in the defense and retake of their territories with all the biodiversity they need for their physical and cultural survival. These women and men who make arduous and long-suffering struggles to generate life and build a future, contrast with the greed of large companies and investors who seek these same lands to generate profits for their shareholders.

"Plantations are not forests!"

"Monocultures are not smart!"

September 21, 2014

Campaign to Dismantle the Power of the Transnationals

The Via Campesina

World March of Women

Friends of the Earth International

World Rainforest Movement (WRM)


Video: Climate Conversations with Lian Pin Koh (June 2021).