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					                         WORLD RAINFOREST MOVEMENT

International Secretariat                                                             Ph: +598 2 413 2989
Ricardo Carrere (Coordinator)                                                       Fax: +598 2 418 0762
Maldonado 1858; CP 11200                                                          Email:
Montevideo - Uruguay                                                     

                                                                                         WRM Bulletin # 49
                                                                                           August 2001

In this issue:


- Growth does have limits, and scale is truly an issue                                            2


- Cameroon: The trees beyond the forest                                                           3
- Congo, Republic: Foreign loggers deplete forests and livelihoods                                4
- Equatorial Guinea: Transnational loggers in the forest                                          5
- Tanzania: Human rights, social justice and conservation                                         6

- India: Gender bias and disempowerment in World Bank-funded forestry projects                    7
- Indonesia: Mamberamo dam threatens nomadic tribes                                               8
- Japan: Paper industry involved in genetic engineering of eucalyptus                             9
- Malaysia: Local organizations withdraw from certification process                               9

- Costa Rica: Canadian mining company attempts to silence opposition                              10

- Mexico: Opposition to forestry plan prepared by Finnish consultancy firm                        12
- USA: Where plantations are clearly not forests                                                  12

- Argentina: Forest conserved by the Wichí destroyed by agricultural companies                    14
- Brazil: Challenging Aracruz Celulose's power                                                    16
- Peru: Forests and people threatened by Canadian mining company                                  17
- Venezuela: Power line that kills                                                                18

- Papua New Guinea: The impacts of British-promoted oil palm monocultures                         19


- Old Growth Forests at Risk: World Bank Wants to Get into the Logging Business                   20
 - Urgent action against the World Bank's proposed resettlement policy!!                          21
WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                          August 2001

                                                OUR VIEWPOINT

- Growth does have limits, and scale is truly an issue

Transnational corporations are increasingly dominating all economic sectors where profits can be made. Most of
them have incorporated social and environmental concerns to their discourse, though few of them actually comply
with their own declarations in this respect. Regardless of their good intentions, the sheer scale of their operations
make environmental sustainability practically impossible, while competition to dominate global markets has made
social concerns almost antagonistic to profitability.

Examples of the above abound in all economic sectors, but the case of the Brazil-based Aracruz Celulose is
paradigmatic, because it was one of the first transnational corporations to embrace the environmental issue prior
to the Earth Summit in 1992. This company is the world's largest bleached eucalyptus pulp producer, with a
production of 1,300,000 tonnes per year. Aracruz has been expanding its eucalyptus plantations and its industrial
plant ever since its inception and there are apparently no limits to its expansion plans. It now aims at increasing
its pulp production capacity to 2 million tonnes and this implies the occupation of thousands of more hectares of
fertile lands with monoculture eucalyptus plantations.

Although local communities living in the area occupied by Aracruz --mainly indigenous and traditional
Afrobrazilian communities-- were dispossessed from their lands, the company initially received some support from
other sectors of society, who were promised development and jobs. However, the promised development never
arrived, while employment has been steadily decreasing as a result of mechanization and outsourcing. According
to Aracruz itself, the company has a labour force of "1,689 employees, including our international subsidiaries,
Aracruz Produtos de Madeira and Portocel. In addition to our own workforce there are 2,954 permanent
outsourced workers, resulting in a total of 4,643 direct jobs in regions where we operate." And these are the jobs
created by a huge company, with a huge pulp mill and equally huge landholdings of some 220,000 hectares!

At the same time, existing rural employment has decreased as a result of land purchasing by Aracruz and its
plantation to eucalyptus. Given that jobs per hectare in tree plantations are much less than jobs per hectare in
agriculture, the resulting employment balance is negative in the rural areas. Additionally, environmental impacts of
both plantations and pulp production have impacted further on local people as, for instance in the case of local
fishing communities confronted by the depletion of fish due to Aracruz's activities.

The above and many other impacts have resulted in increased organized opposition which even led to a law
recently passed by the state Parliament --and immediately vetoed by the Governor-- banning further pulpwood
plantations until an agro-ecological mapping of the state establishes clear rules on where they can and cannot be
planted. The ensuing debate is analysed in the article on Brazil below.

As stated above, the case of Aracruz is but one example of what is currently happening in many parts of the world
--South and North. No matter how hard --when they actually do-- transnational corporations try to take into
account environmental and social issues, the end result is environmental degradation and increased
marginalization of people. And the issue is in fact quite simple: the larger the scale, the larger the impacts. Is it not
time to begin to rediscuss the "small is beautiful" and the "limits to growth" concepts?

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                      August 2001

                                        LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS


- Cameroon: The trees beyond the forest

Cameroon, with a population of around 15 million and a territory of 475,440 sq km, has an estimated 22 million
hectares of forests, 64% of which are tropical rainforests lying at the southern part of the country, while the
remaining 36% are in the central and northern Savannah areas. Atlantic coastal forests grow in areas with
relatively fertile soils and hold some of the greatest biodiversity found anywhere in Africa.

After the decline of the oil boom era, the government increased timber exports and estimates of deforestation
situate Cameroon‟s rainforest loss at around 130,000 hectares per year. Deforestation has been aggravated by
megaprojects such as road construction, and the building of dams. Logging activities, carried out by both local
and foreign companies, are focused on few species: Sapelli, Ayous, Iroko, Azobe, Tali, Moabi, Movingui and
Ngollon, for export to Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.

Benoit Ndameu, from Friends of the Earth Cameroon, warns that there will be no primary forest left in Cameroon
in ten years time if major changes are not introduced. He identifies illegal logging as the big problem, and
denounces that the government does not enforce its own regulations: “Of the 100,000 hectares logged each year,
at least 40% of them are illegally deforested. Logging companies regularly exceed their concessions and export
as much as they can with no oversight from the authorities.”

Benoit Ndameu demystifies the role of so-called "slash-and-burn" agriculture in deforestation, often targeted as a
primary cause of forest loss by vested interests. He explains that in the east of the country, where the worst
deforestation is taking place, there are only between one to three people per square kilometre --farmers who stay
in the same place for many years. Logging companies, on the other hand, have five-year permits to exploit
enormous areas --after which nothing is left-- many of them financed by the World Bank.

Bollor, Thanry, Pallisco and Rougier, from France, Wijma from the Netherlands, Alpicam/Grumcam from Italy and
Sfil and Sotref from Belgium are the most active foreign logging companies operating in Cameroon.

A new actor is now entering the scene. The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly interested in the medicinal
value of Cameroon‟s trees and Benoit Ndameu says that French laboratory Plantecam has identified the tree
Prunus africana as useful for treating prostate cancer, and ongoing research investigates the potentiality of
Ancystrocladus korupensis to treat AIDS.

Together with other local NGOs, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cameroon is trying to expose logging companies'
operations and the government's non-compliance with its own regulations. Their joint strategy with FoE France
has succeeded in uncovering facts about illegal activities being carried out by French logging companies in
Cameroon, financed by the French government‟s development agency.

Unlike profit-making companies, the people of the forest establish a multipurpose link with the trees: they provide
them fruit, food, bush meat, oil for cooking, and honey, as well as provide them with medicine. Pygmies even use
the bark of the Moabi (Baïllonela toxisperma) to make a camouflage potion for hunting. The trees also enshrine
sacred values for forest peoples: the Bantu believe that local Bubinga trees contain the spirits of their ancestors.
The spiritual connection of these people with this tree, which during centuries has allowed the conservation of an

WRM       BULLETIN           # 49                                                                          August 2001

extremely slow-growing species such as this, is not taken into account by forest exploiters who see only its hard,
red-coloured wood to make furniture in Europe and Asia.

Article based on information from: Ann Doherty, “The true value of a tree”, interview with Benoit Ndameu, FoE
Cameroon, (; Wilfred J. Awung, Centre for Environmental and Rural
Transformation Limbe, “Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Cameroon”,
( ); Ousseynou Ndoye and David Kaimowitz,
“Macro-Economics, Markets, and the Humid Forests of Cameroon, 1967-1997”,

- Congo, Republic: Foreign loggers deplete forests and livelihoods

The Republic of Congo, often referred to as Congo-Brazzaville, has a total area of 342,000 sq. km, 60% of which
is covered by rainforests (21.5 million hectares), mainly located in the scarcely-populated north of the country.
The forest and its resources are the main source of livelihood for most of the rural population living there.

As part of structural adjustment policies and under the macro-economic reform policies prescribed by multilateral
lenders, privatisation of the former forest parastatal institutions is taking place and is increasing the penetration by
transnational corporations in the forestry sector. Some of the foreign companies operating in the country are
Danzer (German), Rougier (French), Feldmeyer (German), consortium Boplac (Dutch-Danish-German),
Wonnemann (German). Timber exports --mostly raw logs rather than processed products-- represent the
country‟s second major source of export revenues after oil. The forestry sector provides 10% of formal
employment and its contribution to GNP increased from 1% in 1982 to 5% in 1996.

Approximately half of the country‟s forests are classified as productive forest suitable for timber exploitation,
mainly operated by multinational logging companies under concession. Low forestry taxes, weak monitoring and
enforcement capacity, irregularities and corruption in the awarding and exploitation of generous concessions have
allured companies and boomed forestry operations. Main tree species targeted are Okoumé, Limba, Sapelli and

Exploitation of the forests has facilitated commercial bushmeat hunting, which is decimating wildlife in a number
of areas. The loss of biodiversity which results from logging has long-term consequences both ecologically and
socially. Although the country has protected areas, the capacity to monitor them is minimal.

The practices of forestry companies have also had social impacts, including discrimination against local people
who usually have not had access to an adequate education so they do not possess the skills required by the
logging companies. Pygmies in particular, who are forest dwellers and use forests for their subsistence activities,
are twofold negatively affected: their livelihood is being destroyed and they find it difficult to obtain reasonably
remunerated employment because they are perceived as unreliable by logging companies.

Companies do not listen sufficiently to local people, whose needs are rarely taken into account or respected
unless they take direct action, such as blocking the loggers‟ roads with barricades.

As usual, the sad story goes that profit led activities which benefit only a rich transnational elite with their local
cronies disrupt the environment and the livelihoods of ancient dwellers and guardians of the forest.

Article based on information from: Forests Monitor, "Sold down the river. The need to control transnational
forestry corporations: a European case study", March 2001. E-mail:

WRM       BULLETIN            # 49                                                                    August 2001

- Equatorial Guinea: Transnational loggers in the forest

Equatorial Guinea is a forest-rich country, and its valuable species --Okoumé, Ilomba, Andouk-- have attracted
the logging industry, particularly since the early 1990s. Most of the country --some 2.2 million hectares-- is
covered by forests, which provide for the livelihoods of between 80-90% of the population, which obtains
fuelwood, food, medicines, building materials and other products from it.

Industrial timber production has rapidly increased since the mid-1990s at rates considered to be unsustainable.
As mentioned in WRM bulletin 46, commercial logging has been banned on Bioko Island (due to its high
biodiversity level) but no similar measures were taken on the mainland (Rio Muni), where approximately 1.5
million hectares of productive forests have been allocated as industrial logging concessions.

The forests of Equatorial Guinea are divided into two domains: conservation forest (protected areas) and
productive forest. The latter is composed of forest plots (small areas of primary or secondary forest located within
farms), community forests (granted permanently to local communities because of their traditional rights) and
national forests, that belong to the state and are exploited in partnership with private companies. In fact, most of
the 1.5 million hectares of production forests have been allocated as industrial logging concessions.

In the continental region of the country there are currently 80 logging concessions being exploited by a number of
companies from different countries such as Malaysia, Spain, France, Korea, Lebanon, China. There has however
been a major shift in foreign involvement in logging. Until the mid 1990s most companies were owned by mainly
Spanish capital, while now Asian companies have become dominant. Within these, a subsidiary of the Malaysian
company Rimbunan Hijau --Shimmer International-- now carries out most of the logging in the country, allegedly
through having strong ties with the President's son, who happens to be the Minister of Forests.

Moreover, this Malaysian logging company has been accused of being "one of the worst in the world". Richard
Wilcox's study "Asian Economies Fuel Forest Meltdown", published in The New Observer, says that Rimbunan
Hijau Ltd. has become one of the most ruthless logging companies in the world due to abuses of national laws
and regulations, human rights violations and contractual breeches". This company is exploiting forests not only in
Malaysia but also in Brazil, Russia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and a number of Central African

The shift from European to Asian logging companies is also reflected in export figures. Until 1992, Europe was
the destination of 85% of log production, but since the mid-1990s Asia has become the main destination of the
country‟s log exports. In 1994, 54% of timber exports went mostly to Japan and to a lesser degree to China. On
the other hand, Europe is practically the sole destination of processed wood products

Enforcement of legal requirements is virtually non-existent regarding commercial logging. For instance, total wood
production had by 1997 gone up to 760,000 cubic metres per year, while the legal limit was 450,000 cubic metres.
Another clear infringement of the law is related to wood processing in the country. Although concessionaires are
obliged to must process 60% of their production, in practice most timber from Equatorial Guinea is still being
exported as raw logs.

In sum, the rich forests of Equatorial Guinea are being depleted, thus depriving local people of their sources of
livelihood for the benefit of a few transnational logging companies and local elites.

Article based on information from: Forests Monitor, “Sold down the river. The need to control transnational
forestry corporations: a European case study”, March 2001. E-mail: ;

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001

- Tanzania: Human rights, social justice and conservation

Efforts to conserve certain threatened species or habitats have in too many cases been implemented at the
expense of local peoples throughout the world. Although modern conservation thinking has been shifting away
from its original anti-people bias, it has yet to redress many of its past abuses and to accept that people are part
of the environment. The following quotes from the conclusions of a study on Tanzania carried out by Neumann
(see details below) may prove useful to that debate.

"The establishment of virtually every national park in Tanzania required either the outright removal of rural
communities or, at the very least, the curtailment of access to lands and resources. The historical processes of
colonialism and postcolonial nation-building thus shaped the basic relationship between peasant farmers and
pastoralists and the conservation regime. From the perspective of pastoralist political activists, numerous
injustices have been carried out by the state in the name of wildlife conservation. The fact that pastoralist voices
speaking out against conservation as usual are now heard loudly at international conferences and workshops is in
itself a remarkable historical shift in Tanzania‟s conservation politics. Rural activists have incorporated the potent
rhetoric of sustainable development and human rights into their struggle, an action that heralds a new

"Local resistance to the loss of access rights to land and resources has motivated new efforts by international
conservation NGOs to redistribute tourism benefits and promote social welfare in communities adjoining protected
areas. Continued pressure from “below” will necessitate further attention to questions of land rights and justice.
Increasingly in contemporary cases, local groups, often through the formation of indigenous NGOs, are
demanding autonomous control of land and resources, which they view as customary property rights that have
been usurped by the state. In this context, 'it is often sociopolitical claims, not land pressure per se, which
motivate encroachments' into protected areas (Fairhead and Leach 1994:507). Local demands can be politically
radical, and most international conservation NGOs and state authorities are reluctant to go so far as to grant sole
control of forests and wildlife habitat to villages or other local political entities. Local participation and local
benefit-sharing, however, are not the same as local power to control use and access. Yet, in the end, this is what
many communities seek."

"So far, pastoralists are the main social group organizing to redress the perceived injustices of wildlife
conservation in Tanzania. Other affected groups, such as peasant farmers on other park boundaries, have not yet
organized around similar issues. The potential exists, however, for a much more widespread and comprehensive
political struggle over land and resource rights in protected areas, such as developed as part of the nationalist
movement in the colonial period. Provided with new democratic openings, pastoralists are moving away from
'everyday forms of resistance' and protest toward more organized and formalized forms of political action. It is
difficult to predict what new structures and policies for wildlife conservation will emerge as a result of their
activism. Land rights activists have, however, made it clear that wildlife conservation issues cannot be addressed
without considering broader struggles for human rights and social justice."

Article based on quotes from: Neumann, Roderick.- Land, Justice and the Politics of Conservation in Tanzania. In:
Zerner, Charles (ed).- People, Plants, & Justice: The Politics of Nature Conservation. New York, Columbia
University Press, 2000

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001


- India: Gender bias and disempowerment in World Bank-funded forestry projects

Elected forest councils (Van Panchayats) have been the only existing example of reasonably autonomous legal
space for community forest management in India. After having managed for years demarcated village forests in
Uttarakhand, the hill region of Uttar Pradesh, Van Panchayats are being replaced by top-down “participatory”
forestry projects pushed by the World Bank.

In the village of Pakhi in Chamoli district, from where the Chipko movement against commercial forest exploitation
had begun in the early 70's, neither the women nor the poor --targetted as primary beneficiaries of these new
forestry projects-- were consulted and their existing management system was not even taken into account.

The village forest is rich in biodiversity, with mixed species dominated by oak and rhododendron, and a sprinkling
of deodar (Himalayan cedar). Its primary benefits have been fuelwood, fodder, leaf litter for animal bedding and
other non-timber forest products, rather than cash income. These have been critical for sustaining local
agro-pastoral livelihoods, still predominantly subsistence based. Collection of fuelwood, fodder and water is
almost exclusively women‟s work in the hills. Decisions about when to open the forest for grass, leaf and firewood
collection, the rules for collection, the fines for violation, etc. were taken by the women, ensuring that forest
product collection did not conflict with periods of heavy agricultural work. As no external funds were available, the
women used to repair the forest boundary wall with voluntary labour.

Although pleased with having appropriated control over the village forest, the women had expressed resentment
over the men leaving all the forest protection work to them on the grounds that only women need the forest.
However, when important village related decisions are made, the women are often kept in the dark.

This complaint became starkly true with the introduction of “participatory” village forest joint management (VFJM)
under a World Bank funded forestry project in August 1999. The offer of a significant budget for the village forest
led to a rapid gender based shift in power and control. The same men, about whom the women complained of
leaving all forest protection work to the women, suddenly became over enthusiastic for it. Three watchmen were
employed and initially they even monopolised wage work in the project financed nursery. Only after strong
protests by the women were some of them employed.

But the men too are losers. They have a similar loss in local decision making control to the Forest Department.
According to the president of the council, the new VFJM reduced the villagers' role from being responsible for
forest management to providing information for preparation of the microplans and working as paid labour for
forestry operations. The microplans are cast in the mould of plantation projects and reinforce the Forest
Department‟s claim to being the monopoly holder of technical forestry knowledge, as well as the pattern of
forestry as the best land use even for the remaining commons. This is despite its historical lack of experience in
biodiverse forest management for enhancing livelihoods and ecological security.

In the words of one of the worried women, “In their lure for money, the men have made a deal over our village
forest with the Forest Department", which has in fact become the only winner. These World Bank-funded projects
have thus disempowered local women and men who have protected the forest while empowering a Forest
Department with a long history of forest destruction.

Article based on information from: Madhu Sarin, “Disempowerment in the name of „participatory‟ forestry? –
Village forests joint management in Uttarakhand”, Forests, Trees and People Newsletter, No. 44, April 2001.
WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                         August 2001

- Indonesia: Mamberamo dam threatens nomadic tribes

Hydroelectric dams have always enormous social and environmental impacts. The construction of these
megaprojects is a major cause of forest loss, as well as resulting in widespread human rights violation. As stated
in the World Commission on Dams' report, the construction of dams has caused the displacement of 40-80 million
people worldwide. More than 40,000 dams have already been built and the Mamberamo dam in West Papua is in
the process of becoming one more.

In the 1990s the area of Mamberamo was declared as an industrial and agricultural development area. The
energy needed for the envisaged activities was going to be supplied by hydroelectric dams, being one of them the
planned dam on the Mamberamo River. If implemented, this project would cost 6 billion dollars and would flood
one of the richest biological areas of the world. Not only would this project devastate an incredible environment,
but will also impact dramatically on the lives of 35 nomadic tribes who live in the area.

The construction of the dam has already started. In the year 1997 the government officials arrived to a village
called Lau --over the river Mamberamo-- and gave a clear message to the local residents: everyone in the village
would have to move to the surrounding mountains because their land was going to be flooded by a huge dam.
According to an article published in the English newspaper The Guardian, a Lau village chief told the coordinator
of the WWF during his visit to the place: "I would rather be shot in the head than be resettled."

The first stage of the "development" plan was completed in 1999 when a South Korean firm, PT Kodeco
Mamberamo Plywood, opened a sawmill and established an oil palm plantation. Extensive industrial logging of
primary rainforests in the 691,700-hectare concession is already threatening populations of endangered green
turtles and birds of paradise. Land that has been cleared by PT Kodeco will serve as a site for a major industrial
estate with metal smelting works, sawmills, agribusiness plantations, and petrochemical processing factories -to
be powered by the dam.

The plan has prompted a barrage of protests from local inhabitants, particularly through the Greater Mamberamo
tribal institution. According to its chief, Wimpie Dilasi, the project, especially the dam, will only create widespread

According to a report in the Indonesian language newspaper, Kompas, West Papua's governor JP Salossa, said
that loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would fund the US$ 6 billion
hydro-electric project, whose 3 units would generate 10,000 Megawatts. The organization Down to Earth sent a
letter to the World Bank‟s Environment and Social Development Co-ordinator, Tom Walton, who replied that the
Bank “is not funding and has no plans to fund the Mamberamo megaproject." Mr Walton believes that “a
correctly-done social, environmental and economic assessment would show it to be a bad idea, no matter what
the funding source.” However, it is still unknown if the ADB shares the same views and if it will or will not fund the

The Indonesian government is clearly ignoring the findings and recommendations produced by the World
Commission on Dams, among which the need to gain public acceptance. In this respect, the report says:
"Acceptance emerges from recognising rights, addressing risks, and safeguarding the entitlements of all groups of
affected people, particularly indigenous and tribal peoples, women and other vulnerable groups. Decision making
processes and mechanisms are used that enable informed participation by all groups of people, and result in the
demonstrable acceptance of key decisions. Where projects affect indigenous and tribal peoples, such processes

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001

are guided by their free, prior and informed consent." None of these recommendations have in this case been

Article based on information from: Down to Earth Newsletter, May 2001, ; Glen Barry,, e-mail: ; Eben Kirksey, The Guardian,
(,4273,4231187,00.html ) ; The World Commission on Dams web site

- Japan: Paper industry involved in genetic engineering of eucalyptus

In spite of the potentially devastating impacts it might entail, Japanese paper manufacturers are carrying out
research on genetic engineering aimed at the "creation" of trees yielding more cellulose.

Eucalyptus is the most widely used tree by the paper industry as raw material for the production of cellulose. The
wood from this tree is composed of more or less equal quantities of cellulose and lignin and therefore the latter
needs to be removed to obtain cellulose. In their quest for more profits, paper companies are thus working to
genetically modify eucalyptus so that its wood will contain less lignin and more cellulose.

Several strategies are being developed with this aim. Nippon Paper Industries' research aims at blocking genes
that adjust various stages of lignin synthesis, and its output is a genetically modified eucalyptus that produces
less lignin and more cellulose, thus yielding 5% more pulp. Mitsubishi Paper Mills has developed a recombinant
eucalyptus that comprises 14-16% less lignin, expecting to yield 10% more pulp, while Oji Paper focuses on
facilitating removal of lignin during the pulp-making process to cut manufacturing costs and also to reduce the
amount of bleaching agents needed for pulp production.

It is important to underscore that Oji Paper --Japan‟s largest paper manufacturer-- owns a total of 200,000
hectares of fast-growing plantations overseas, distributed in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia and
Vietnam. Now it is planning to increase its annual overseas paper production 20 fold (to one million tons),
counting on expansion in other Asian countries through mergers and acquisitions, with an investment of some
US$ 124 million. China is one of the major targets, as well as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

As of the end of 2000, Japan‟s paper industry had some 140,000 hectares of plantations in Japan itself, and some
280,000 hectares abroad. By 2010, the area overseas is expected to reach 430,000 hectares and much of the
latter might eventually be composed of genetically modified eucalyptus plantations.

Article based on information from: “Science Frontier: Factors Converge to Spur Development Of GM Eucalyptus”,
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Friday morning edition, July 27, 2001, sent by Yuri Onodera, e-mail:,; and Yoichi Kuroda, e-mail:; Oji Paper Co. Website:, sent by Yuriko Hayami, e-mail:; “Oji Paper boosts
offshore plants”, The Nation Saturday, June 9, 2001.

- Malaysia: Local organizations withdraw from certification process

The process to review, discuss and improve the Malaysian Criteria, Indicators, Activities and Standards of
Performance (MC&I) for Forest Management Certification has been subject to disapproval by several Malaysian
non-governmental, community based and indigenous peoples' organisations. Though they have been part to the
process, they have decided now to withdraw on the grounds that their participation has been somewhat
constrained and misconstrued as giving consent and approval to the present MC&I.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                        August 2001

The organisations sent a joint letter to the National Timber Certification Council, (NTCC) stating the reasons for
their withdrawal. They highlight several matters that have not been answered or have been unsatisfactorily

One of them refers to access to information. Indigenous and local communities find it difficult to understand the
concept and process of sustainable forest management and certification due to the technical terms and lack of full
information in local languages, which blemish the process. In order to carry out a fair decision-making process,
the organisations claim that up-to-date and accurate materials and information in the local languages and
appropriate forms should be available and distributed as widely as possible at the community level. Also sufficient
time should be given for the communities to understand the issues before they can even make a decision, taking
into account the geographical distance and isolation of groups, among other factors.

The objections on process issues include participation and representation: involuntary and unconsulted relocation
of villages result in the loss of ownership and user rights and impoverishment of communities. They demand that
participation must not be limited to just a few appointed leaders or members of the community. The entire village
must be informed, consulted and involved in decision-making processes.

Communities see sustainable forest management as a means to ensure the continuity of forest resources for
food, medicines, other daily needs and inheritance to the future generations. However, MC&I has not given due
recognition to the rights of, and user rights on, the traditional territories of local indigenous and forest

Focused on the rights to customary land and forests and livelihoods of the people who live in and around the
forests, the civil organisations question a process which they consider is not meeting the requirements of either
the ITTO Criteria and Indicators, or the Forest Stewardship Council procedures, and Principles and Criteria for
Forest Management. Indigenous peoples have particular rights to land and use of forestland, which is different
from other forest users. Since they are not “just another stakeholder” in forest management but the rightful
stewards of the forest, they must be duly recognised and respected for indigenous values, knowledge and
practice related to land and forest.

The civil organisations have decided to withdraw from the process until their demands on process and standards
are well on the way to being met, and they strongly state that they do not endorse the MC&I as currently proposed
by NTCC.

Article based on information from: “NGOs Statement to NTCC”, July 2001, received from Meenakshi Raman,


- Costa Rica: Canadian mining company attempts to silence opposition

Once again, a foreign company is the cause of conflicts for the inhabitants of the Province of Puntarenas. The Río
Minerales company, a subsidiary of the transnational Canadian mining company Wheaton River Minerals Ltd.
was granted environmental permits to establish an open cast gold mine at Bellavista de Miramar, for the
extraction of 60 thousand ounces of gold per year over a 7 year period, by means of leaching in ponds, using

Open cast mining is an industrial activity with high environmental, social and cultural impacts. It is also by
WRM       BULLETIN          # 49                                                                          August 2001

definition, an unsustainable activity, insofar as the exploitation of the resource involves its depletion. It uses large
amounts of cyanide, a very toxic substance, in order to separate the gold from the other materials removed.

In order to develop this process, the beds need to cover large areas near the surface, resulting in gigantic
craters that can be as large as 150 hectares and over 500 metres deep. The consequences are: the production of
large amounts of solid and liquid wastes, impacts on neighbouring peoples and the complete transformation of the
landscape together with severe modifications to the morphology of the land (for more detailed information in
Spanish on the environmental and social impacts of gold mining, see: ).

Knowing the serious impacts caused by open cast mining, Marta Ligia Blanco Rodríguez, teacher and community
counsellor from Montes de Oca, province of Puntarenas, declared herself against the Rio Minerales company
activities, as did the mayor, Roberto Aguilar and the other community leaders. For Marta Blanco, this project
compromises their source of water and the right to a sustainable life in her canton. As a result of her opposition,
she is presently facing legal action lodged by the mining company. The power of the Canadian company seems to
be so great that in September 1999 it was exempt from carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment (with
the excuse that an assessment had been approved in 1986), and it was only required to submit an Environmental
Management Plan.

According to the inhabitants of the zone, the action against Marta Blanco is clearly meant to intimidate and
reflects the power of the transnational companies, responding to vested interests in mining exploitation, interests
that are of course not those of the Montes de Oca community. This statement is confirmed when Rio Minerales
lodged the action for “defamation of a legal person” sustaining that the counsellor has attributed responsibility to
the company for “logging thousands of trees,” an accusation the company rejects, because it has an excavating

The company also alleges that the policy of Marta Blanco and her companions from the Council is “to oppose all
projects.” For her part, counsellor Blanco has the support of the community neighbours who do not want an open
cast mine to be established. During an attempt at conciliation, the mining company wanted the counsellor to
resign to avoid her and the Municipal Council continuing their opposition to the mine being opened. This failed as
it showed to be a clear attempt at limiting the municipal representatives‟ freedom of expression.

Sonia Torres, a neighbour at Miramar, stated that this case is framed within the policies transnational companies
follow with people in any part of the world who oppose their interests. “Four years ago I was also sentenced by
this same court for not having given in to intimidation by the employees of Posesiones Gran Galaxie S.A., a
subsidiary company of the Canadian mining company Rayrock, the owner of the Bellavista mining project at that

It seems that these companies have got used to bringing to court those who exercise freedom of expression in
defence of the environment, health and life in Costa Rica. Is it not time for the government of this country,
apparently so concerned by environmental issues, to place itself on the side of those who are defending the
environment, and to stop the expansion of these destructive mining activities?

Article based on information from: Gabriel Rivas – Coecoceiba, E-mail: / FoE Costa Rica;
Sonia Torres, Frente del Pacífico de Oposición a la Minería de Oro; diario La Nación

WRM       BULLETIN           # 49                                                                            August 2001


- Mexico: Opposition to forestry plan prepared by Finnish consultancy firm

In the previous issue of our Bulletin, we reported on the forestry plan prepared for Mexico by the Finnish
consultancy firm, Indufor. In the article we pointed out that the consultancy firm itself emphasised that “the
uncertainty of social consequences associated with large scale plantations, has produced a cautious attitude on
the part of the rural communities.” We translated this as an elegant way of avoiding the use of a more appropriate
word: opposition.

And, in fact, opposition has not been long in coming. The leaders of the five most important social forestry
organisations in the country have made public their serious questioning of the so-called Strategic Forestry Plan
for Mexico.

The leaders of these organisations have stated that the Plan stems from a “biased” assessment, which identifies
the type of land holding as the main cause of deforestation “which would seem to suggest that the solution to
deforestation is privatisation of woods and forests.”

And of course, the leaders are right. In spite of all the proof shown to the contrary, the foreign consultants
continue insisting on the recipe of privatisation as the solution to all ills. In this case, it will imply appropriation by
major transnational companies of lands presently occupied by small-scale farmers, peasants and indigenous

Contrary to what the Finnish consultancy firm suggests, for the social forestry organisations, “the main cause of
deforestation is a policy subordinated to agricultural policies, where traditionally the woods and forests have been
a sort of territorial reserve for the expansion of agriculture and animal husbandry.” This is no secret to anyone in
Latin America, although it would appear to be so to the foreign “experts” responsible for this analysis, correctly
considered as “biased” by the local organisations.

Linked to the above, the leaders also criticised the fact that the plan promotes private initiative as the driving force
for forestry development and does not take into consideration the communal and small land holders (owners of 80
percent of the country‟s woods and forests) in preparing and implementation of the plan, nor does it contain any
mechanism for actions in concert with those forest managers.

Paradoxically, it seems clear that the Strategic Forestry Plan for Mexico is not a plan for the Mexicans living in the
forests of Mexico. On the contrary, it is a plan prepared behind the backs of the owners of the forests, aimed at
benefiting external agents comprised by major transnational groups. Under such conditions, it is only to be
expected that opposition to the plan will continue to grow and extend to all the social sectors that would be
affected should it be implemented.

Article based on information from: Rosa Rojas, "Critican grupos sociales plan forestal del gobierno foxista", La
Jornada, 25/7/01,

- USA: Where plantations are clearly not forests

Few people know that the Southern US is currently the largest wood and paper producing region in the world.
Successful efforts to protect the last remnants of old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, resulted in the
expansion of the industry into the recovering second-growth forests of the South. In the last 10 years, more than
WRM       BULLETIN           # 49                                                                         August 2001

100 industrial-scale wood-chipping facilities have been constructed in this region, while paper production alone
has increased by one-third since 1985. Approximately 5 million acres of forests are clearcut every year in the
region for paper.

The Southern US is now home to one-half of all the world's industrial tree plantations (approximately 30 million
acres, some 12 million hectares) and experts are projecting a doubling of plantations over the next 20 years.
Already, 40% of the native pine forest throughout the region have been turned into monoculture plantations.
Industry experts project that number to increase to 70% by 2020.

Despite all the fast-growing plantations, pine trees (the species of choice for plantations) are currently being cut
faster than they grow according to the US Forest Service. And while industry argues that plantations take
pressure of natural forests, experts project that removals of the region‟s natural hardwood forests will exceed
growth within the decade.

There is very little old growth forest remaining in the region, as virtually all the forests were logged by the turn of
the 20th century. Nevertheless, the region‟s recovering second-growth native forests are the most biologically
diverse in North America as they escaped glaciation during the last ice age. These forests contain the highest
concentrations of tree, other terrestrial and aquatic species' diversity on the continent.

Not only are diverse natural forests being converted to fast-growing plantations, but wetlands are being drained to
make way for plantations as well. These plantations are being sprayed via airplanes with chemical fertilizers and
herbicides. In addition, large timber companies (International Paper, Georgia-Pacific, Weyerhaeuser, Westvaco
etc.) are positioning the Southern US as an international focal point in genetic engineering (GE) of trees.

Not only is this impacting the ecology of the region, but it is also having an adverse impact on local communities
--it is as much a social issue as it is an environmental one. Communities surrounding large industrial plantations
tend to be economically depressed, having higher than average poverty rates and lower expenditures on public

There are no laws in place in the Southern US to prevent the conversion of forests to plantations, as the largest
timber companies in the world are concentrated in this region of the globe and have undue influence over the
political system. In fact, the current policies actually encourage and subsidize the conversion of forests to

The good news is that there now is a very strong, diverse coalition of groups across the region (including religious
leaders, recreation businesses, local saw mill owners, local concerned citizen groups and forest protection
groups) working together to stop the expansion of industrial forestry with a long-term goal of eliminating
unsustainable, industrial forestry practices altogether. The Dogwood Alliance --a coalition of 70 organizations
across the Southern US-- is currently working in two areas:

1- Government Policy: to stop the further expansion of the industry and secure legal protections for forests at the
state level. There is currently a moratorium on the licensing of new wood chipping facilities in the state of
Missouri, and it is now more difficult for a company to get a permit for a chip mill in the State of North Carolina.
Collectively, the Alliance has stopped the construction of seven chip mills since 1991.

2- Corporate Markets: to take pressure off forests by shifting markets away from products derived from
unsustainable practices and towards alternatives.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001

The Alliance --together with organizations such as Rainforest Action Network-- was successful in convincing
Lowe's (the second largest retailer of wood products in the US) to discourage their suppliers from converting
forests to plantations.

The coalition is also involved in a national campaign (in partnership with Forest Ethics) targeting Staples (the
largest office supply retailer in the world) to get them to become a leading global retailer of high, post-consumer
content recycled paper products.

With less than 20% of the world‟s old growth forests remaining, we must recognize that protecting old growth
forests alone will not be enough to sustain the Earth‟s biodiversity. There are still well-intentioned groups and
individuals working to protect old growth forests that believe plantations are a part of the solution to the world‟s
forest crisis. One needs only to understand the situation in the Southern US to know that plantations do not offer
protection for forests; they destroy them.

By: Danna Smith, Dogwood Alliance, e-mail:


- Argentina: Forest conserved by the Wichí destroyed by agricultural companies

The story of the Hoktek T‟oi community of the indigenous Wichí people in the Province of Salta (in the north of
Argentina) is a story of suffering caused by state policies linked to economic interests. Over the past years, far
from finding a solution to end a hundred years of usurpation and injustice, the authorities have only continued to
attack the rights and the very existence of the Wichí people, who protected the tropical forest where they have
always lived.

It is important to note that the Wichí people had been living on their territory for 12,000 years when, according to
the elders of the Hoktek T‟oi community, they saw the first white Argentines. Following them came the loggers who,
in addition to exploiting indigenous human resources, logged and sold the wood from the forest where for centuries
the community had practised sustainable hunting, gathering and cultivation. In spite of being the legitimate
ancestral owners, the community was recognised as having “legal” ownership over 27 hectares of its own territory.
They were dispossessed of seventy-five thousand hectares.

Since 1910, the community‟s territory has changed “owners”, until in 1966 the deeds of the land surrounding the
Hoktek T‟oi community were drawn up in the name of the agricultural company “Los Cordobeses S.A.” As a start,
the company attempted to move the community, but its members resisted. Knowledgeable about the area, they
knew the company wanted to move them to a site that was easily flooded . Faced by this resistance, the company
shut in the community by means of a “donation” of 27 hectares, that the company proceeded to fence in. Seeking
advice and support, the Wichí from this community turned to the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (PAHR)
and it was thus that they established a community organisation with the aim of defending their territory.

The company did not delay in taking reprisals. Making use of the deforestation permit granted by the government of
the Province of Salta, the company started to devastate the native forest and, at the same time, the environment
and the community‟s means of subsistence. The numerous attempts made by the community to stop this permit
being granted to the company were all in vain. Neither the provincial authorities responsible for the defense of
indigenous communities, nor those responsible for the environment, nor justice itself, gave any follow-up to the
complaints made by the Wichí regarding this cultural ethnocide and the irreparable social and environmental
damage caused by deforestation.
WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                         August 2001

With the sanction of four different tribunals, the damage is being done in total impunity. The millenary forest is being
eliminated with heavy machinery and chains, the tree trunks, branches and roots are burnt. The plantations are
sprayed from the air and so are the people from the community; there have even been attempts at destroying their
homes and their graveyard. All this, linked to permanent threats are among the innumerable abuses that the Los
Cordobeses company and their tenants, Cremer S.A. and Mirco S.A. have been committing over the past few

Presently the Hoktek T‟oi community is a green island in the middle of brown fields, were the forest has definitively
been destroyed and substituted by agricultural plantations. The company, not satisfied with what it had already
devoured of the forest, attempted several times (with a bulldozer, with the police, with hired staff and with a notary
public), to make the green island housing the community even smaller. They wanted to cut it down to one third and
evict the community.

The Wichí resisted again, physically, politically and legally. They lodged action against “Los Cordobeses” in the
local Justice, in order to prevent eviction and defend the remnant native forest.

This legal action lasted a whole year and involved many hearings, which the company regularly failed to attend.
Although it lacked resources, the community did not give up its rights and insisted with its claim. Furthermore it had
the support of a strong campaign at national and international level carried out by non governmental organisations
and solidary individuals, who sent letters to the judge hearing the case and to the governor of the Province of Salta,
urging them to respect the community‟s legal rights. The campaign included three urgent actions taken by the
WRM. It was thus that the Wichí finally achieved legal recognition of their possession of the 44 hectares of the
green island, maintained as an oasis of life surrounded by the depredation caused by the company “locusts”, as the
Wichí themselves define them. However the company has not given up and on 23 August it appealed against the
Judge‟s sentence in favour of the Wichí.

Two years ago the community submitted an expropriation bill to the Argentine Congress, whereby it attempts to
recover an area of 3,000 hectares of forest, about 4% of its territory. The Bill has already half a sanction as it was
unanimously approved by the Chamber of Deputies last November. While its discussion in the Senate is still
pending, the 3,000 hectares are being deforested. If this bill is not passed quickly, the land will become a desert
that will be of no use to anyone, not even the locusts.

While the Argentine government solemnly signs any environmental or social agreement prepared at international
level (on forests, biodiversity, climate, human rights, or whatever), the Wichí have been obliged to follow intricate
administrative and legal channels --complaints, audiences, inspections, proceedings and appeals-- to defend the
forest and their rights. The Hoktek T‟oi community has always been responsible for “ensuring the preservation of
the native forests in the Province, conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecological balance,” as required
by the national law, totally ignored by authorities, judges and lawyers representing a racist provincial state, just as
guilty or more so than the companies themselves that are today causing the agony of the Wichí people.

It is time for Argentina to recognise the still denied existence of the indigenous Wichí people. It is time for their
territorial and cultural rights to be recognised. It is time for justice to be done. The resistance of the Wichí must be
supported by all, but first of all by the inhabitants of the province and the country where this tragedy is taking place.
For more information (in Spanish) on the Wichí, consult in:

Article based on information from: “Historia de HOKTEK T‟OI” submitted by John Palmer,
and Tom Griffiths,
WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001

- Brazil: Challenging Aracruz Celulose's power

What is happening in Espirito Santo --one of the smallest Brazilian states-- is historic. Mighty plantation and pulp
company Aracruz Celulose has generated so much opposition stemming from its activities, that the state
Parliament recently passed --almost unanimously-- a law banning further planting of eucalyptus until an
agro-ecological mapping of the state is put in place, which will define where eucalyptus can and cannot be
planted. The law was immediately vetoed --during a "solemn session"-- by the Governor and now Parliament
must decide whether to lift or maintain the veto.

But the battle is not just between Parliament and Governor but between organized opposition and Aracruz itself.
Opposition has greatly increased during the recent years as a result of the wide range of social and environmental
impacts resulting from the company's activities, added to the fact that job opportunities provided by the company
have dramatically decreased. Additionally, according to local Parliamentarian Robson Neves, the company "does
not pay any tax to either the state of Espirito Santo or to local municipalities" where its plantations are located.

The opposition front, originally conformed by some few NGOs and indigenous peoples organizations has now
grown to include a great number of other impacted sectors of organized society such as Afrobrazilian
communities, charcoal producers, fisherfolk, landless peasants, trade unions, small farmers, as well as
academics, social and environmental NGOs, politicians and other concerned citizens.

Within such context, the author of the law --Parliamentarian Nasser Youssef-- put forward the idea of organizing
an international seminar on eucalyptus, open to both supporters and opposers to plantations of that species.
Aracruz and its experts were to be in the panel, together with panelists bringing in experiences from both Brazil
and countries such as Chile, South Africa, Thailand and other. The idea was strongly supported by the local
organizations who believe in democracy, pluralism and debate. But Aracruz "declined" the invitation and
convinced its experts to also "decline". It addressed a letter to Nasser Youssef, President of the Environment
Committee of the State Parliament (full text in Portuguese at ),
which merits some comment.

On the one hand, the company tells Youssef --and the state Parliament-- what it should be discussing in the
seminar. According to Aracruz, the 28 out of 30 parliamentarians that voted the law did not realize that the law
was "inconstitutional" and the seminar should thus focus first and foremost on this issue. Secondly, the seminar
should be focusing --not on the impacts of eucalyptus-- but on the issue of clear and stable rules for corporate
investments from companies such as Aracruz which "dignifies the state and the country" through its production
and investment. Thirdly the seminar should be discussing the "forestry vocation" of Espirito Santo but instead
--according to the company-- "the seminar organizers opted for a clearly ideologic and tendentious approach".

On the other hand, in its letter, Aracruz lectures parliamentarians on the "myths and ideologies" surrounding the
eucalyptus debate and proves --in less than one page-- that its plantations "conserve biodiversity", "conserve the
soil", "protect hydrological resources", "generate employment and rent", "contribute to regional development" and
"generate tax incomes". The message is clear: don't waste your time discussing eucalyptus plantations because
we and our experts know that they have no negative impacts and that should be sufficient for you.

Thirdly, Aracruz questions the organization of the seminar itself and the selection of international panelists who,
"apart from not being known in the global fora, share the same preconceptions against forestry plantations, which
in Brazil have a clear competitive advantage compared to those in the countries they represent". So not only are
those people unknown, but they also have preconceptions while at the same time they try to assist their countries'
plantations in competing with Brazil! Surrealist, to say the least.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                      August 2001

Finally, in order to participate in the seminar, Aracruz "only requests that the discussion processes are
democratic, open, free, within a consistent agenda, with broad participation of all interested sectors and not
manipulated to justify predefined results". As those conditions were --according to the letter-- not met, the
company "declined" the invitation.

In spite of Aracruz's almost insulting refusal to participate, the seminar was a huge success and met all the
"criteria" raised by the company: democratic, open, free, consistent agenda, extremely broad participation
--lacking only Aracruz, its experts and the Federal Ministry of Environment-- and not manipulated in any way
whatsoever. And it is interesting to note that the company did not comply with any of its own criteria when
organizing, immediately after the international seminar, its "own" seminar --opened by a representative of the
same Federal Ministry of the Environment that declined to participate at the International Seminar-- where only
the people with preconceived ideas in favour of Aracruz were invited and where the people impacted by the
plantations were left outside. Corporate discourse and reality appear to be moving along parallel lines that never

In sum, Aracruz's refusal to participate is an example of the arrogance of transnational corporations which believe
they have the right to decide on everything and the power to do so. At the same time, it is a way of acknowledging
that organized opposition in Espirito Santo is in fact challenging that power and that the company feels
increasingly isolated. All good news!

By: Ricardo Carrere

- Peru: Forests and people threatened by Canadian mining company

The farmers and peasants from the valleys of Tambogrande, San Lorenzo and the Locuto and Nacho Távera
communities in the Department of Piura have received a hard blow with the announcement made by Alejandro
Toledo‟s Prime Minister that the country is to become a leading mining country. This does not consider the
decision of the populations settled in the area for hundreds of years.

In 1999 the Peruvian government and the Canadian company Manhattan Sechura S.A. signed an agreement
granting the mining company 89 thousand hectares of land around the town of Tambogrande in the Department
of Piura in northern Peru, for mining exploitation. The transnational company Manhattan Minerals Corp. (of
Canadian origin), intends to exploit a poly-metalic bed as an open cast mine. The building of the mine will require
approximately 25,000 people to the resettled, the course of a river to the changed and will cause the destruction
of the Prosopis (algarrobo) forests existing in the zone.

The population of Tambogrande lives on agriculture. They reject mining activities in the zone due to the risks they
imply and have launched an aggressive campaign to prevent the project being implemented.

José Valeriano Márquez Nima sits on a sandy hill in Locuto and looks towards the horizon. He observes the river
Piura and the town of Tambogrande and then turns his eyes to the vast Prosopis forest and the pastures where
they take their animals and where they walk every day to collect Prosopis legumes, the economic support for
nearly 1,000 peasants from the community of Apostol Juan Bautista de Locuto.

Prosopis legume is a product in demand regionally and nationally and is preferred as fodder for fattening cattle
and for dairy cattle. The legume from Piura is marketed in the departments of Lima, La Libertad, Lambayeque,
Tumbes and Cajamarca. Its production is more profitable than the production of firewood and charcoal.

WRM       BULLETIN           # 49                                                                         August 2001

The families settled in the Communities of Locuto and Nacho Tavara that will be affected by the mining activities
carried out by the Manhattan Minerals Corp. project, obtain a significant part of their income (around 50%) from
the sale of Prosopis legume and of animals bred in the woods, enabling them to satisfy most of their basic needs
for food, clothing and education. Seventy percent of the population settled in this way, not only conserve the
woods, but also manage them soundly, thus contributing to maintaining the ecological balance of the

In spite of the fact that the economic powers have loaded their batteries and are using all means possible to find
acceptance in the community, there is strong resistance on the part of the population of Tambogrande, San
Lorenzo and Locuto, who base their economy on agriculture. The farmers have organised themselves and have
carried out various demonstrations. Some 28 thousand citizens have signed a memorandum that the Municipality
will submit to the Executive, requesting the revocation of the supreme decrees granting the concession to
Manhattan Minerals Corp and asking that their lands be declared not subject to seizure.

It is important to note that the serious impacts generated by Canadian mining companies throughout the world
has been documented and analysed in a joint work carried out by the Forest Peoples Programme, the Philippine
Indigenous Peoples Link and the World Rainforest Movement. The results of this study have been summarised in
the publication "Undermining the Forests. The need to control transnational mining companies: a Canadian case
Those wishing to obtain a copy may request it from the Forest Peoples Programme office, e-mail The publication will shortly be available in our web site.

Article base on information from: Margarita Vega, e-mail: ;

- Venezuela: Power line that kills

On 13 August, the presidents of Venezuela and Brazil, Hugo Chávez and Fernando Henrique Cardoso
respectively, finalised an agreement made in 1997 and inaugurated an electric transmission line extending from
Venezuela to the north of Brazil, in the state of Roraima. The 676 kilometres of high voltage cables which cost
400 million dollars and were the work of Electrificación del Caroní, a branch of the Corporación Venezolana de
Guayana, will transmit 65 megawatts per hour. By the year 2020 this could increase to 200.

But this project has wounded to death the Gran Sabana, the Canaima National Park, the habitat of the Pemon
indigenous people and the centre of Venezuela‟s biological diversity and water wealth.

The construction of the power lines has caused deforestation, erosion, loss of forests and other animal and plant
habitats in the Canaima National Park. But it also implies the implantation of a development model that is foreign
to the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Gran Sabana and the Imataca rainforest.

The service infrastructure set up around the project will attract various large-scale economic activities: legal and
illegal mining, logging companies and tourism. The economic dynamics that will surely flourish around the power
lines will not only disfigure the landscape but will also attack the ecological and cultural stability of the zone.

The Coalition Against The Electric Transmission Line has pointed out that developmentism is “a political and
economic model that intervenes violently, with large-scale technology, on the ways of living, fragmenting,
outcasting and disjointing individuals and their habitat, under the alibi of giving the population a better quality of
life in the future.”

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                         August 2001

From an environmental standpoint, the considerable number of openings that were cut to make way for the
installation of the pylons, have now become great crevices due to the accelerated loss of soil that takes place in
the Gran Sabana once it has been deprived of its plant cover. In other cases, these openings facilitate vehicles
entering further into the National Park, thereby deteriorating zones that had been preserved from their entry. The
water resources will also be affected as there will be a greater demand for water to keep up the levels of
electricity production, implying an increase in the number of dams built.

The Society of Friends of the Gran Sabana, AMIGRANSA, have complained that the indigenous communities that
have resisted have been repressed, while those who accepted the governmental agreements are already
suffering from the fact that the agenda of commitments containing a set of measures agreed on to finalise the
work on the lines transmitting energy to Brazil is not being complied with.

But additionally, this megaproject has broken the unity of the autochthonous peoples, giving way to one of the
greatest internal confrontations in the history of these peoples. There are those who are willing to negotiate and
those who are not willing to give up their sacred sites, their lands and their resources. For the former, blackmail
and psychological pressure: the basic rights set out in the new constitution are conditioned to the laying of the
power lines. For the latter, intimidation: firing practice near the communities, distribution of pamphlets stating that
the Indians would be bombed and that they would be excluded from state benefits.

In view of all this, it is at least sad to note the attempt made to show the electric interconnection between
Venezuela and Brazil as a progressive political action through the means of inviting Fidel Castro to participate at
the opening ceremony. However, there is nothing progressive about a typical “developmentist” project such as
this, which has resulted in serious social and environmental impacts that will surely worsen as time goes on.

Article based on information from: Sociedad de Amigos en Defensa de la Gran Sabana (AMIGRANSA), and the Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (PROVEA);
Norberto J. Méndez, El Nacional, 26 de julio de 2001.


- Papua New Guinea: The impacts of British-promoted oil palm monocultures

CDC Capital Partners is a major actor in Papua New Guinea‟s oil palm plantations. A former UK foreign aid
programme, it later became a public private company and invests in PNG through Pacific Rim Plantations Ltd.,
holding 76% of its shares.

Pacific Rim Plantations Ltd. owns and manages about 23,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in three locations:
Northern Province (Popondetta), Milne Bay Province (Alotau) on PNG‟s north coast and at Kavieng on New
Ireland island. It operates in joint venture with the PNG government, which has a 20% stake.

CDC plans in the longer term to double its palm oil capacity, and has been buying areas of customary land.
Though according to its Environmental Plan, the areas to be cleared were “scrub” and “secondary bush”, recent
photographs indicate that CDC‟s operations drive the deforestation of lowland tropical moist forest in PNG. One of
the main areas affected provides the habitat for the world's largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra Birdwing
Butterfly (Ornithoptera alexandrae), pride of local people and classified as rare and endangered by IUCN and
listed on CITES Appendix 1.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                        August 2001

A local environmental group, Conservation Melanesia (CM) exposed that problems with land clearing for CDC,
ranging from open clearing of vegetation right up to the edges of streams and rivers, to planting in the middle of
rivers. All oil palm estates plant through minor river courses, which tend to dry out during the dry season. These
watercourses, however, play an important role in the ecosystem --until the surrounding natural vegetation is
cleared and planted with oil palm. Besides, CDC's palm oil plant in Oro had open and direct discharge of effluent
into the surrounding environment by discharging waste directly into a local river and its tributaries. A multitude of
people living along this river, extending through the interior of the province right down to coastal villages, have
complained about water pollution, dead fish and destruction from flooding not experienced before the processing
plant was built. Little action has been taken from CDC to address those concerns.

These concerns are not new. Already in 1994, FoE-EWNI and WWF UK both criticised CDC for destroying
rainforests in the Milne Bay Estates and also for making local communities dependent on a single export based
cash crop, vulnerable to wild price fluctuations. They warned that the on-site factory would encourage local
people to clear their own land for oil palms, and it appears that this is exactly what has happened.

CDC argues that it is socially responsible and that it has launched building programmes and investing in
communities to improve living conditions. However, there are reports which say that CDC is pushing local
landowner mini-estate development because based on wage labour savings, this system is more beneficial to the
company than if it further develop its nucleus estate. The company provides seeds and 4-5 year credits to
landowners if they develop oil palm on their estates.

NGOs‟ objections relate to questionable informed consent processes and land leaseback arrangements, absence
of oil palm labour unions, low oil palm wages and lack of objective information provided to landowners.
Additionally, transactions with local people are biased. Papua New Guineans have traditionally had a common
approach towards land ownership and they are not well aware of the commitments implied in the sophisticated
commercial contracts they sign.

Article based on information from: Friends of the Earth Briefing, “CDC, Oil Palm and Forest Destruction in Papua
New Guinea”, sent by Ed Matthew, email:


                                  THE WORLD BANK, FORESTS AND PEOPLE

- Old Growth Forests at Risk: World Bank Wants to Get into the Logging Business

A draft “Revised Forest Strategy for the World Bank Group” was recently placed on the World Bank‟s web page ( ). The draft strategy is scheduled to be discussed by a Sub-Committee of the World
Bank‟s Board in late September and to be adopted by the full Board by the end of 2001. Strategies intend to
provide guidance for World Bank staff but their recommendations are not binding. Operational Policies (OP) on
the other hand are binding documents and provide the most important yardstick against which civil society groups
can hold World Bank staff accountable.

The draft forest strategy contains several pages which outline a new Forest OP. Much like a Trojan Horse,
adoption by the World Bank‟s Board of the strategy, would include acceptance of the direction set out by the OP
that is embedded in it.

The OP as outlined in the draft strategy is concerned about getting the World Bank to “re-engage” in the forestry
sector by directly investing in logging operations. The argument being made is that the Bank cannot be effective
WRM      BULLETIN           # 49                                                                       August 2001

in promoting better forest protection without being a financial player in the logging business. At best, the
argument is naïve. It is widely acknowledged today that the underlying causes of forest destruction are located
outside the forest sector. A Forest Policy Review carried out by the Bank‟s own evaluation department (OED)
concluded that the main pressures on forests are corruption, trade liberalization and globalization. World Bank
structural adjustment programs finance precisely the economic policy reforms which OED considers to be
driving forces of deforestation. Yet structural adjustment is not subject to environmental assessment. The World
Bank can exercise great influence on the future of the world‟s forests by ensuring that its own operations do no
harm and through its policy dialogue with borrowing countries. Yet, the outline of the OP is silent on these critical

The OP as outlined in the draft strategy represents a rupture with the World Bank‟s 1991 Forest Policy Paper and
subsequent OP on Forests (OP 4.36) which explicitly prohibit the Bank from supporting logging in primary, tropical
moist forests. World Bank support for logging, including financing by the IFC and MIGA, the World Bank‟s
affiliates which subsidize the private sector, would open the floodgates for the expansion of large-scale industrial
logging. Much of this logging would take place in the world‟s old growth forests where profits are generated
quickly. What about the rights of indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples, the protection of biodiversity
and ecosystem services, such as watershed protection?

According to the outlined OP, the World Bank would use two instruments to address the social and environmental
concerns. On the one hand, it would apply its existing safeguard policies, such as the OPs on Natural Habitats
and Indigenous Peoples, and, on the other, it would promote independent certification of forestry operations. The
use of these instruments is not at all reassuring. The existing safeguard policies are not focused on forests and
contain sufficient loopholes and ambiguities to be of limited value to forestry operations. In addition, the World
Bank‟s evaluation department (OED) continues to document the institution‟s poor record in implementing its own
safeguard policies. An additional troublesome development is that the Bank is currently re-writing some of these
policies and weakening policy requirements related to the protection of vulnerable groups and the environment.
While independent certification is theoretically a promising tool to control rampant logging, even the best existing
systems, such as the Forest Stewardship Council, have great trouble protecting endangered species and suffer
from a multitude of problems. Certification schemes in which international criteria and standards are left
undefined and where no mechanisms for public participation are established, are a recipe for disaster.

The World Bank needs an unambiguous, strong safeguard policy (OP) for forests, which

- Secures the rights of forest dwellers;
- Ensures that non-forest sector lending does not damage forests and forest peoples;
- Proscribes World Bank Group financing of logging in old growth forests.

By: Korinna Horta, Environmental Defense, August 22, 2001, e-mail:

- Urgent action against the World Bank's proposed resettlement policy!!

The World Bank has just forwarded its revised draft resettlement policy to the full Board of Executive Directors for
discussion and approval. Starting August 20th, Executive Directors will be returning to their offices from a two
week recess, and it is crucial to capture their attention immediately about the resettlement policy. We believe that
it will be placed on their agenda shortly after the recess.

Thanks to the strong public mobilization on earlier drafts of this policy, the Bank has responded to some concerns
by defining more terms and removing some offensive language of its previous document.
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In this “revised” policy there are still many fundamental problems that will violate the rights of indigenous peoples
and other vulnerable groups. Most alarming is the fact that the proposed policy will still permit the forcible
relocation of indigenous peoples even where it may result in "significant adverse impacts on their identity and
cultural survival”. A complete study of these two key substantive areas --indigenous peoples and "voluntary"
resettlement-- was carried out by the Forest Peoples Programme and the Center for International Environmental
Law, which is available in our web page at:

There is one last chance to demand substantive changes in the resettlement policy before it is approved. The
Executive Directors of the Bank in each country should be contacted, faxed or phoned and concerns about this
policy should be expressed. It is urgent to persuade them to make amendments to the policy and to adopt a clear
presumption against any forced relocation of indigenous peoples.

A complete list of Executive Directors and their contact details is available at:

Please send copy of your letters to: President James Wolfensohn, Fax 202 522 3031.
Vice president, Ian Johnson, Fax: 202 522 7122, e-mail:
You can use a sample letter published in our web page:


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