WORLD RAINFOREST MOVEMENT
MOVIMIENTO MUNDIAL POR LOS BOSQUES TROPICALES
International Secretariat Ph: +598 2 413 2989
Ricardo Carrere (Coordinator) Fax: +598 2 418 0762
Maldonado 1858; CP 11200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Montevideo - Uruguay http://www.wrm.org.uy
WRM Bulletin # 50
In this issue:
- The need to listen to and learn from local communities 2
LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS
- Congo, D.R.: Will Zimbabwe become a member of the logging club? 3
- Eritrea: Sustainable forest use threatened by government policies 3
- South Africa: Where impact of plantations on water is accepted as fact 4
- Zambia: Causes of deforestation linked to government policies 5
- East Asia: Ministerial Conference on illegal logging and trade 6
- Indonesia: ADB will not fund Mamberamo dam 7
- Laos: Planned Nam Theun 2 dam leads to increased logging 8
- Philippines: Planting trees and terror 9
- Sri Lanka: Deforestation, women and forestry 10
- Jamaica: Deforestation linked to mining, agriculture and tourism 11
- Honduras: The Latin American Mangrove Network is born 12
- Nicaragua: Indigenous people win major legal battle 13
- USA: Statement by Project Underground regarding the September 11 attacks 14
- Bolivia: Shell and Enron Gas pipeline in the Chiquitano Forest 15
- Brazil: The rights of Aracruz and the rights of the people 16
- Chile: Community forestry as an alternative model 17
- Ecuador: Action to stop the oil pipeline continues 18
- Australian carbon sinks: good for investors, bad for the environment 19
- Solomon Islands: The alternative to large scale operations 20
- The sad figures of employment generated by plantation companies 21
- New WRM book on the impacts of oil palm plantations 22
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
- The need to listen to and learn from local communities
The different cases addressed in this bulletin describe a broad range of situations where forests are either being
destroyed or conserved. Contrary to the discourse of many experts, these cases show that deforestation is more
linked to policies implemented by governments than to actions carried out by local communities. Additionally, they
show that cases where forests are being conserved are more the result of organized community efforts than of
Commercial logging --legal and illegal-- is clearly a major cause of deforestation, but it is still being promoted by
governments. Large corporations --mostly foreign-- reap the benefits while impacts are borne by local
communities and within them particularly by women and children.
There is no doubt that large-scale hydroelectric dams destroy large areas of forests and with them the livelihoods
of local peoples. However, they are still being promoted. Here again, benefits go to the hands of large companies
--many of which foreign-- while local communities suffer the consequences.
The history of oil and gas exploitation and transport in the tropics is a history of human rights abuses and
environmental destruction. Entire forest ecosystems are destroyed, including deforestation, wildlife depletion and
widespread pollution of waterways and underground water. In spite of mounting local opposition, oil and gas
activities continue being promoted.
Mining is another extremely destructive and polluting industry, which impacts heavily on local peoples. Here again
the profits go to foreign companies whose activities are promoted and supported by national governments.
Even the apparently benign activity of tourism is in many cases resulting in the destruction of forests to give way
to large infrastructure aimed at attracting tourists from abroad.
Large-scale pulpwood or carbon sink tree plantations are also resulting in forest destruction, both directly and
indirectly, and affecting entire ecosystems --including biodiversity, soils and water-- and local peoples' livelihoods.
However, they continue being actively promoted nationally and internationally.
Additionally, many sectoral or macroeconomic government policies result in forest loss. Those policies may
appear to have no relation to forests, but their end result on forests may be devastating. For instance, the
promotion of certain cash crops for export, or high electricity tariffs may encourage land clearance for agriculture
or tree cutting for charcoal production. In spite of that, government policies continue disregarding those impacts.
Within the framework of the above examples, local communities find it very difficult to protect the forests that
constitute their homes and sources of livelihood. However, in spite of the difficulties, they continue struggling to
achieve that aim. Not only do they try to oppose the "development" projects that will affect them, but at the same
time they try to build alternatives to sustainably use those forests, among which community forest management is
perhaps the more well known.
In sum, solving the forest crisis implies changing those policies --national and international-- that are affecting
forests and putting in place new policies to provide local communities with an adequate framework to protect what
is in their interest to protect. Governments, multilateral and bilateral agencies, corporations and other major actors
should begin by listening to and learning from those communities. That would be the best starting point to ensure
the survival of the forest and its peoples.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS
- Congo, D.R.: Will Zimbabwe become a member of the logging club?
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has nearly half of Africa’s, and 6% of the world’s, tropical rainforest
and the area has been recently designated one of the most important forests on the planet by the United Nations.
Until recently, poor communications and the continuing conflict had largely spared much of the country from the
attention of commercial tropical timber firms. But now a Zimbabwean company has gained rights to exploit 33
million hectares of forests in DRC, 15% of its total land area and ten times the size of Switzerland. Allegedly this
has been the result of a deal between the DRC’s government and representatives of Zimbabwean president
Robert Mugabe in return for military aid against rebels in the east of the country and in a desperate attempt to
recoup some of the losses Zimbabwean leaders have incurred in their intervention in DRC.
The logging concession has been granted to Socebo, a subsidiary of Cosleg (Pvt) Ltd. Cosleg is itself a joint
venture between the ironically named Operation Sovereign Legitimacy (Osleg), a company largely controlled by
the Zimbabwean military, and Comiex-Congo, a firm largely owned by the family of DRC President Joseph Kabila.
The operation is expected to bring in profits of up to US$ 300 million over the two to three years it will take to clear
the concessions of the most valuable timber.
The intention is to log four concessions, located in Katanga, Kasai, Bandundu and Bas-Congo Provinces, from
each of which Socebo hopes to produce over 150,000 cubic metres of timber per year at full capacity. All the
concessions were scheduled to be opened by 30th April 2001 but, as far as we are aware, the starting dates have
not been met. The reason for this delay appears to be that the company has been unable to raise the necessary
funds, estimated at approximately US$30-40 million per concession --of which more than half would be borrowed
from financial markets.
The timber would be exported --as Zimbabwe is self sufficient-- although some could be used for domestic
consumption in DRC. At this stage it is not clear exactly where logs will be exported to, but it is likely that timber
from the Katanga concession would be exported by rail through Zambia and eventually from Durban (South
Africa) to countries outside the region. The other concessions are further north and, due to poor road conditions, it
is likely the timber would be transported by river. Currently 80% of logs exported from DRC transit
Congo-Brazzaville and are destined for the European market. Judging by regional trends France would almost
certainly be a major importer (as it is from Cameroon, Gabon and Liberia).
Timber in DRC has been exploited for over 60 years by what has effectively become a cartel, which includes
French, Belgian and some German interests. Unless a company is a member of this cartel, it is considered that
operating timber concessions would be extremely difficult if not impossible. Will Zimbabwe become a new
member of this destructive and exclusive "club"?
Article based on information from: “Zim loggers to ravage rainforest”, Jason Burke, The Mail & Guardian,
September 4, 2001; The World Guide 2001/2002; Global Witness, briefing document, 26 th August 2001,
- Eritrea: Sustainable forest use threatened by government policies
The Western Lowlands of Eritrea are the easternmost extension of the Sahel, lying between Eritrea’s border with
the Sudan and the Eritrean/Ethiopian highlands. Their hills and plains are mainly covered with semi-desert scrub
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
and savannah woodland and interrupted by three river valleys clothed with remarkably dense woodland, some of
it mixed acacia and dom palm and elsewhere almost pure stands of dom palm (Hyphaene thebaica).
Six ethnic groups live there, amounting to several hundred thousand people with their distinct survival systems
characterised by flexibility to face the numerous natural and human-made plights which have played havoc in the
past forty years. Major droughts and war have led to a collapse of the farming system, many deaths and mass
exodus of the population as refugees. In 1998-2000, the Lowlands were invaded by Ethiopian armies.
At all times, forest products play a crucial role in people’s livelihoods. All the tribes rely largely on the forest to
meet their subsistence needs (housing, tools and some food) and dom palm fibre is the principal source of cash
income for the majority of the Lowland population (belonging to the Tigre, the Beni Amer and the hidareb tribes).
Also, in peacetime and when rainfall levels allow at least some cropping and herding, the poorer members of the
community or those who cannot farm land --such as the many war widows-- make a living on cutting, weaving and
selling palm. Also dom palm nuts are a food of last resort in the hungry season before harvests, and in drought
years they become a staple food for many.
One ethnic group --the Kunama-- has a distinctly different approach to the forest. They cut very little palm for
income, but collect food from twenty or more tree species. These include the dom palm and others that they value
as food reserves for drought years when their crops fail: for them the riverine forests are their insurance, rather
than a regular income source.
The resilience of the farming system is given by forest harvesting which enables poor farmers to survive and
entire communities to face bad years. However, the agricultural extension services of the Eritrean government
have collided with the traditional system, partly because of the unfounded belief that palm leaf cutting is carried
out in ways that damage the tree, but mainly because the government has other priorities: the forests occupy
fertile land with high water tables, which is ideal for irrigated agriculture of cash crops such as onions and
bananas. Increasing production of these is a high priority for the government, in order to raise hard currency
through exports, and to attract investment.
On the other hand, the local population values the forest highly, which has until now been a major factor in its
conservation. They have established harvesting patterns governed by informal regulations and they have a deep
understanding of the nature of dom palm regeneration and growth. These systems prevent over-cutting through
restricting access and over-frequent cutting, and have for generations proven to be sustainable.
Article based on information from: “Tress for semi-nomadic farmers: a key to resilience”, Stephen Connelly and
Nikky Wilson, LEISA magazine, April 2001, http://www.ileia.org/2/17-1/10-11.PDF
- South Africa: Where impact of plantations on water is accepted as fact
The establishment of large-scale fast growing tree monocrops is always accompanied by a debate on the issue of
water. The vast majority of forestry experts will deny that plantations impact on water, usually using the lack of
scientific studies as an argument to counter local peoples' allegations that plantations deplete water resources.
Within that context, South Africa is an exception, because no-one denies that plantations affect water resources
and what is more interesting is that this unanimity is based on research carried out over many years.
As the majority of South Africa’s commercial timber plantations have been established in the prime water
catchments of the region this has had severe consequences on the available water supply and more specifically
on downstream users. Concerns over the impact of these commercial tree plantations on existing water supplies
were first articulated in the early 20th century. The extent and public nature of the discourse eventually led to the
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
introduction of a state sponsored hydrological research programme in 1936. Despite the growing body of
evidence that illustrated quite clearly that water supplies declined in the presence of commercially grown tree
plantations it was only in 1972 that a regulatory regime (Afforestation Permit System) was introduced. The state
now sought to regulate the planting of commercial tree plantations through the issuing of permits to mitigate the
deleterious impact such plantings have on water supplies.
In subsequent years the inherent shortcomings of the 1972 regulatory regime became increasingly apparent.
Although a series of recommendations based on the growing body of evidence gathered from additional research
had been introduced, these resulted in few substantial changes. It was only during the rapidly evolving and
changing political environment of the 1990s that more significant changes were introduced to regulate the
tree-growing sector. The underlying motive for the state intervening in the sector was to ensure that South Africa’s
scarce water supplies were utilised more equitably, effectively and efficiently. Any activities, including
tree-growing, that resulted in the reduction of water supplies were to be registered as Stream Flow Reduction
activities and would have to apply for a permit to continue pursuing such activities. Additional concerns such as
the impact of commercial tree-growing on biodiversity, ecological sustainability, and aesthetics were also taken
Although the results of the hydrological research used to establish the legislative framework for tree-growing
activities have often been queried, any disputes that have arisen have focused more on the alleged quantities of
water consumed by the industry rather than the fact that commercial tree plantations are major users of water and
especially groundwater. The essence of the ‘plantation-water’ debate in South Africa therefore is more about an
industry arguing for its economic right to compete for a scarce resource, namely water, rather than a denial by the
industry that commercial tree plantations consume a significant amount of water. In other words its is an accepted
‘fact’ rather than a ‘fallacy’.
Forestry experts and governments in other countries where large-scale fast growing tree plantations and being
promoted and implemented should follow the example of South Africa instead of continuing to deny what is
increasingly obvious: that these plantations deplete water resources.
Article based on information from: Harald Witt, summary of presentation at International Seminar on the Impacts
of Eucalyptus, Brazil, Espirito Santo, 21-23 August 2001. E-mail: Witth@nu.ac.za
- Zambia: Causes of deforestation linked to government policies
Deforestation is considered one of the priority environmental problems in Zambia and woodland conversion to
agriculture and wood harvesting for charcoal production seem to be the main causes of forest loss. The simplistic
conclusion is therefore that "poverty" or "the poor" are to be blamed for deforestation.
However, there are a number of underlying causes related to the government’s economic liberalization policies
that have not been adequately investigated, forces that influence forest conversion to agriculture and clearance
for charcoal production. Additionally, some studies have linked the increase in deforestation to economic policies,
such as currency devaluation and removal of agricultural subsidies, that increased the area requirements for
crops grown on newly cleared land, predicting more deforestation due to removal of fertiliser subsidies and a
switch back to shifting cultivation.
It is important to underscore that during the first half of the 20th century, traditional crop production in Zambia was
dominated by shifting cultivation --the "citemene" system-- which symbolized the effective use of tropical soil by
the African indigenous peoples. For many years, the farmers of Zambia logged trees, burned the branches, and
used ash as a fertilizer for the soil. Due to the nature of the soil, this method worked well and land could be used
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
for 5 years before being left to rest. However, this system was dismissed by colonial interests --without finding out
why the farmers used it-- as backwards and destructive, pushing farmers into settled agriculture.
With the "green revolution" and the increasing European and urban influence, cultivation became more
permanent. Chemical fertilizers were promoted and hybrid maize was introduced in the 1970s, making farmers
dependent on subsidised fertilizers. The overuse of fertilizers raised the carrying capacity of the land but resulted
in soil erosion, acidification and loss of fertility. The removal of agricultural subsidies in the 1990s had
consequences for rural livelihoods and people had to look for new sources of income to pay for the now more
expensive agricultural inputs.
The privatization of electricity generation --imposed on many countries by the IMF and the World Bank- increased
electricity prices and affected the electrification policy, pushing local people to the use of charcoal as energy. The
introduction of charcoal as an urban cooking energy source in Lusaka city created a new incentive among rural
communities in central Zambia to clear woodlands to supply charcoal to the urban market. Incomes from charcoal
production were used to buy household requirements and in some cases these were invested in agricultural
production after the removal of subsidies: a forest product had become a source of subsidy for agricultural
production. Under traditional agricultural system trees were cut and burnt but with the commodification of
charcoal, cut trees were converted to charcoal for sale and the land cultivated to produce both food and cash
Finally, it is not only agriculture and charcoal production which are destroying the forest: uncontrolled or poorly
controlled commercial exploitation of timber is a major cause of deforestation in Zambia's Western, Eastern and
Southern provinces. Few of the profits reaped from this activity --supported by the government-- benefit the local
communities, given that there are no timber industries worth talking about in those areas. All the money realised
from timber sales goes abroad or ends in Lusaka.
In sum, government policies --and not "the poor"-- are at the root of deforestation in Zambia. It was government
policies that made people switch from sustainable swifting cultivation to unsustainable "green revolution" crop
production. High electricity tariffs have pushed people to use charcoal instead of electricity. Government
promotion of certain cash crops --such as sunflower, soybeans and cotton-- have incentivated further forest
destruction. The government thus needs to be made responsible, not only for the past and current destructive
process but, more importantly, for taking the necessary steps to address the problem.
Article based on information from: "Land cover transformation in Central Zambia: role of agriculture, biomass
energy and rural livelihoods" by E. N. Chidumayo, Biological Sciences Department, University of Zambia,
IDRC, Knowledge and Development, http://idrinfo.idrc.ca/Archive/ReportsINTRA/pdfs/v19n1e/108939.pdf
- East Asia: Ministerial Conference on illegal logging and trade
All participating countries of the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG)
East Asia Ministerial Conference held in Bali agreed to adopt a 13-point Ministerial Declaration, which will commit
them to, among other things, taking immediate action against forest crimes. The three-day conference was
attended by some 150 participants from at least 15 countries.
In the first point of the declaration the participants stressed that they would take immediate action to intensify
national efforts and strengthen bilateral, regional and multilateral collaboration to address violations of forest law,
in particular illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
The Indonesian Minister of Forestry M. Prakosa said, "We need to take strong measures against illegal logging.
There is an indication that illegal logging goes hand-in-hand with illegal trade. As a consequence, combating
domestic illegal logging and controlling illegal trade has to go together."
Several Indonesian NGOs that participated in the conference, and closely watched the declaration drafting
process, praised the conference for being able to raise several important issues, such as widespread corruption
among bureaucrats and the importance of respecting the indigenous and traditional local community's right over
the forest. In this respect, Longgena Ginting of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said that "such
subjects were considered taboo before, but in this conference the participants discussed those issues in a frank
and open manner. We appreciate this." Yet Ginting challenged the governments to immediately transform the
declaration into concrete and solid programs.
The NGOs also expressed disappointment over the fact that not a single Malaysian state official attended the
meeting, given that Malaysia has a big timber industry, which consumes a huge quantity of wood, legally and
illegally felled from Indonesian forests.
Participating countries also committed to involve stakeholders, including local communities, in the
decision-making process in the forestry sector, thereby promoting transparency, reducing the potential for
corruption, ensuring greater equity and minimizing the undue influence of privileged groups.
Furthermore, existing domestic forest policy frameworks would be reviewed and appropriate policy reforms would
be instituted, including those relating to granting and monitoring concessions, subsidies and excess processing
capacity, to prevent illegal practices.
Longgena Ginting of Walhi urged the Indonesian government to immediately take strong measures against any
illegal logging activities, including taking timber companies that used illegally felled wood to court. "And I also
asked the government to start investigating thoroughly illegal logging activity at the Tanjung Putting National Park,
Central Kalimantan, which was allegedly backed by Abdul Rasyid, a member of the People's Consultative
Assembly," he said.
Article based on information from: Jakarta Post, 14.9.01, sent by Watch Indonesia!, e-mail:
- Indonesia: ADB will not fund Mamberamo dam
In response to the article on Indonesia published in the previous issue of the WRM bulletin, we received the
following message from Bartlet W. Edes, External Relations Officer & NGO Liaison of the Asian Development
"Dear Mr. Carrere,
I am a regular reader of your informative electronic newsletter. I noticed that WRM Bulletin No. 49 contains a story
about the Mamberamo Dam in Indonesia. The story reports that the World Bank will not be funding the project,
but that "it is still unknown if the ADB shares the same views and if it will or will not fund the project."
Please note that Asian Development Bank is not financing the construction of this dam and has no intention of
doing so. I would be most grateful if you shared this information with your readers, who might otherwise be left
with the mistaken impression that ADB is weighing the possibility of funding this project.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
In the future, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about ADB
projects and policies.
Bart W. Édes", e-mail: email@example.com
- Laos: Planned Nam Theun 2 dam leads to increased logging
The World Bank is edging towards making a decision on whether to award a US$100 million loan guarantee for
the proposed Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam in Laos. Without the World Bank's guarantee commercial investors
will not risk lending money to a joint venture project with the "formerly communist" regime in Laos. (See WRM
Four years ago, the World Bank established an International Advisory Group (IAG) "to provide independent
evaluation of the World Bank Group's handling of environmental and social issues related to the proposed Nam
Theun 2 hydropower project."
However, instead of providing "independent evaluation", the IAG has become an enthusiastic promoter of the
project. Instead of examining whether the project is in accord with World Bank guidelines, the IAG recommends
that the "project should proceed to appraisal [by the World Bank], and to fruition."
In fact, the project is in breach of several of the Bank's guidelines. The Bank's guidelines on forestry, for example,
state that "Bank involvement in the forestry sector aims to reduce deforestation, enhance the environmental
contribution of forested areas, promote afforestation, reduce poverty, and encourage economic development." In
the case of the Nam Theun 2 project, a Lao military-run logging company has logged much of the proposed 470
square kilometre reservoir area and at the same time has logged in forest areas outside the reservoir. The project
has already led to increased poverty, as villager's lose their forests to loggers, and are excluded from remaining
areas of forest to preserve biodiversity.
In May 2000, the World Bank produced a "Logging Survey Mission: Technical Report" which documented
examples of logging outside the reservoir area. The Mission described the logging in various areas supposedly
off-limits to loggers as "systematic", "extensive" "widespread", and "large scale". The Mission reported
"systematic, large scale (hundreds of stumps), recent logging" inside the National Biodiversity Conservation Area.
The hydropower dam project proponents argue the NBCA will be conserved through funding from the project
The Mission also found "systematic, large scale logging" in the areas planned for resettlement of villagers to be
evicted to make way for the reservoir. Rather than pointing out that this logging was project related, and clearly in
breach of World Bank guidelines on forestry and involuntary resettlement, the IAG reported in March 2001, that it
"was encouraged by several developments on the forestry front" and that "the great majority of the illegalities" had
been stopped. The IAG report simply ignores the damage the logging has already caused.
The project-related logging has led to the development of a considerable timber industry in the area. The IAG
report discusses the "pressures to log" and mentions a Taiwanese company, Chang Lin, which has build a "very
large timber processing complex outside Laksao" which is processing Fokienia trees for export. One of the
factory's products is veneer for export to Europe and Australia. The World Bank Mission notes that Fokienia is
relatively rare and that the only sources near to the factory are inside the National Biodiversity Conservation Area
and in the Northern Extension area which the IAG has "strongly and repeatedly" recommended be protected "for
its unique biodiversity".
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
The Chang Lin factory is only part of the over-capacity in wood processing in this area of Laos -- part of an
industry that has grown as a direct result of the logging of the proposed Nam Theun 2 reservoir.
In 1996, Margules Groome Poyry an Australian subsidiary of Jaakko Poyry, the world's largest forestry consulting
firm, produced a "Forestry Report" on the Nam Theun 2 project. According to the consultants, the demands of an
expanding forestry industry are to be met through a plantation programme. The consultants add, "The use of
resettled village labour, combined with appropriate training and management programs could provide important
wood fibre in the future." In other words, villagers evicted to make way for the reservoir are to be employed as
labourers on tree plantations supplying wood fibre to a global market. Villagers knowledge of the forests, their
livelihoods and their culture, are simply to be swept away.
When the World Bank's International Advisory Group visited Ban Sailom, one of the villages where people have
already been moved to make way for the dam project, villagers welcomed them with presents of orchid plants
from the forest. The IAG report comments, "Generosity to visitors is a cultural feature of the people, but nature
conservation is not." The IAG recommends "nature conservation education" including videos, slides and posters
for the villagers evicted to make way for the reservoir.
This incident reveals the inherent bias of the IAG. Rather than focussing on the environmental and social
problems associated with a massively destructive hydropower project, the IAG seems determined to portray
villagers as a threat to the forests.
Instead of sliding ever further into a disastrous project, the World Bank should reject the Nam Theun 2
hydropower project and begin a process of compensating villagers who have seen their forests and their
livelihoods damaged as a result of the project.
By: Chris Lang, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Philippines: Planting trees and terror
At the beginning of the 1950s, the Philippines still had some 100,000 sq. kms of primary forests, which had
shrunk to some 10,000 sq. kms by 1988. The main beneficiaries of such destruction were the logging companies
and wood consumers abroad. while its main promoter was the government itself who opened up the forest to
Now the government is again intervening negatively in the forest sector, but now under the guise of "planting
forests". It has come up with an “industrial tree development” plan for the next three years which implies the
allotment of 500,000 hectares of “open and forest lands” to private foreign and local companies, allegedly to stop
the country’s dependence on imported timber. The regions to be covered by the Integrated Forest Management
Agreements (IFMA) for these investments are Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleras, Northern Mindanao and Caraga
--all with considerable tribal populations. Five firms which have signed up in Caraga alone would invest US$ 100
million to “develop” some 111,000 hectares in Agusan del Sur, where 13 IFMA companies are already operating.
This kind of development projects follow a cycle of dispossession and violence, with terrible costs for local people.
The pattern is always the same: the soldiers come in first, sow terror in order to displace the locals or discourage
opposition, then the project gets implemented.
That was the case for Lumad villagers in Agusan del Sur. Lumad is a Bisayan term meaning "native" or
"indigenous". It is adopted by a group of 15 from a more than 18 Mindanao ethnic groups to distinguish them from
the other Mindanaons, Moro or Christian. At present, Mindanao Lumads account for 2.1 million out of the total 6.5
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
million indigenous people nationally. The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) denounced that an
entire Banwaon village was forced out of their lands and homes just as the government was proudly announcing
the projects. On July 22, the soldiers searched every house in Tabon-tabon, barangay Mahagsay, to look for
one NPA guerrilla, but found instead Juan Flores, a teacher at the Religious of the Good Shepherd
mission-school in Kimambukagyang. Though Flores pleaded innocence, the military tortured and interrogated him
for hours on end until, finding no evidence, they released him.
But Flores was not the only victim. On July 21, also in San Luis, soldiers tortured Lolong Badbaran and Eddie
Badbaran, both Banwaon rattan cutters. They also detained Dino Rueda, a motorcycle driver; and 60-year-old
Linda Loyola, who had witnessed the torture of the Badbarans. The four were tied to the posts of a hut and were
not released until the next day. “The government knows that the Banwaon people will strongly oppose the loss of
more tribal lands,” said Otto Precioso, a Banwaon leader. “That is why they are now terrorising the communities.”
What is happening in San Luis is not different from what has been happening to the Ata-Manobo tribe in
Talaingod, Davao del Norte, where thousands of hectares of ancestral lands were taken over by the plywood firm
C. Alcantara & Sons, converting these into tree plantations under an IFMA. When the Lumads decided to fight
back --even declaring a pangayaw (war of vengeance) in 1994 after hundreds of Ata-Manobo were forced to
evacuate to this city due to militarization-- the government decided to beef up its troops in Talaingod, making the
soldiers the veritable security guards of the company. The terror in Talaingod continues to this day.
Joel Virador, the secretary-general of Karapatan in Southern Mindanao, said last week that the new IFMA
plantations would give rise to the same abuses experienced in Talaingod and elsewhere. “We are certain of that
because it has been our sad history that every time certain economic interests are implemented in Mindanao,
they are preceded by heavy military deployment and, consequently, abuses”, he said. “The tortures of citizens are
part of the government’s policy to quash resistance to anti-people projects”, he added.
Article based on information from: “Government continues its war against Lumads”, Carlos H. Conde,
MindaNews; “Population pressure, poverty, and deforestation: Philippines case study”, María Concepción J. Cruz,
Global Environment Facility, email@example.com ; “Lumad in Mindanao”, Faina Ulindang,
- Sri Lanka: Deforestation, women and forestry
When we say that forest loss is increasing across the globe we are not talking only about trees. We are losing not
only the physical resources --plants, animals and insects-- but an irretrievable treasure of local knowledge, that in
Sri Lanka --as in many other countries-- has been preserved mainly by women. However, women's contribution to
forestry is concealed behind their domestic tasks as their forestry-related activities are directly related to home
maintenance activities. Forests provide the vital three F's for women: food, fuel and fodder.
Women have learned and taught for ages which are the edible species of the forests, which medicinal, which fast
or slow burning and so on. In their involvement in day to day survival, women in rural areas are knowledgeable in
the multiple uses of natural resources. As such, they are potential planners and designers, with the capability of
changing the present negative situation.
However, "development" policies and increasing formalisation of land ownership, usually through the male line,
has done much to worsen the economic situation for women. Because men are far more likely to be acting within
the cash economy, their involvement with forests is almost exclusively in the production of saleable timber.
Government policies are focused primarily on timber production and tree plantations. The paradigm from which
they operate is overwhelmingly technological, and their aim has been to fulfil the requirements of the state rather
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
than individual communities. Market-oriented compartmentalised crop production systems have been formed on
land once used by those communities, creating an opposition between the forestry establishment and the people.
The informal work of women that is essential to household survival goes unrecognised. For example,
deforestation has meant that the time and energy spent gathering firewood has increased enormously. Not only
do women have to walk further to find less, but they carry heavy weights for long distances (up to 35kg for 10km),
damaging their health. The need to conserve firewood then affects the family diet, decreasing variety and
nutritional content, with a further deleterious effect on health. This is just one of a range of tasks made more
difficult by encroaching deforestation.
Increasingly women are having to perform additional paid work outside the home, working on tobacco or tea
plantations. The plantations operate in direct competition with the women for fuel-wood, for the curing of tobacco,
for example. Men are responsible for getting industrial fuel-wood, while domestic fuel-wood gathering is left to
In this situation, women's home gardens, practically the only area in which they retain autonomy, take on
increasing importance and women are reacting to changing circumstances by increasing the diversity of plants
and trees they grow themselves, thus making a further contribution to biodiversity conservation.
However, as the legal owners of the land, men can choose to sell the trees as a cash crop, and men are taken as
the focal point for receiving subsidies and services. Development policies thus need to change and must include
women's needs and knowledge within a holistic strategy. Not only because this would be more equitable, but
because it would be much better to ensure sustainable forest use.
Article based on information from: Anoja Wickramasinghe, Deforestation, Women and Forestry. The case of Sri
Lanka, reviewed by Clare Hillyard Melia; http://www.gn.apc.org/peacenews/issues/past/2390/pn239015.htm
- Jamaica: Deforestation linked to mining, agriculture and tourism
Jamaica, the third largest island in the Caribbean, is dominated by an extensive cordillera. The island was once
almost entirely covered by forest, of which there are four main types whose distribution is determined by the
rainfall pattern: dry limestone forest on southern lowlands and hills; intermediate limestone forest in the central
uplands, wet and very wet limestone forest in the Cockpit Country and John Crow Mountains, and rainforest
(lowlands and mountain).
At present, Jamaica’s lowlands have been mostly cleared for agriculture, and overall more than 75% of the
original forest has been lost. Remaining forest is largely secondary in nature and only the mountain forest in the
most remote, inaccessible and steep part of the island has survived undisturbed.
Hurricane Gilbert played havoc in Jamaica in 1988, with torrential rains and winds. Subsequent extreme flooding
and numerous landslides left a toll of death, homeless people and much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed.
But blame was not on nature alone. Increasing deforestation in Jamaica’s mountains and the resulting soil erosion
worsened the impact of the hurricane.
The country has a sad record of local deforestation speed, much of it due to the fast growing tourism industry and
agriculture expansion, mainly coffee plantations. While the tourism industry replaces beaches and forests with
newly built hotels and roads, inappropriate agricultural practices on lands where forests once grew have resulted
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
in accelerated soil erosion that cause downstream sedimentation and flooding. Like a chain reaction, this has
caused the degradation of the coral reefs and beaches that surround the island.
But bauxite mining -- the island’s second largest foreign exchange earner after tourism-- is considered to be the
single largest cause of deforestation in Jamaica. On the one hand, this activity destroys large areas of forest
because bauxite is extracted by open cast mining, which requires the complete removal of vegetation and topsoil.
But at the same time bauxite mining is an indirect cause of deforestation through the opening of access roads into
forests. Once access roads are cut, loggers, coal burners and yam stick traders move in, taking the trees in and
around the designated mining areas. Mining is thus responsible for extensive deforestation far beyond the mining
Kaiser --owned by the US-based company of the same name-- Alumina Partners (Alpart) --owned jointly by
Kaiser and Norwegian Hydro-- and Alcan --owned by Alcan Canada and the Jamaican government-- are the
outstanding players whose mining rights supersede all others under Jamaican law.
In recent years, deforestation has led to the deterioration of more than a third of Jamaica’s watersheds, drying up
streams and rivers and rendering cities and towns suffering from lack of water. The diversity of plant and animal
life is also threatened by the destruction of forests, leading to the loss of traditional ways of life, the knowledge
about local plants and their medical and other uses.
Although there are currently plans and projects to sustainably manage existing forests and to restore degraded
areas through tree planting activities, it is clearly necessary to address the direct and underlying causes leading to
deforestation in order to create the adequate conditions to achieve that aim. And if bauxite mining is the "the
single largest cause of deforestation in Jamaica", then this should be the starting point to revert the process.
Article based on information from: "Bauxite Mining Blamed for Deforestation", Zadie Neufville, IPS, April 6, 2001
ca+deforestation&hl=es ; “Endemic Bird Areas of the World. Jamaica”, BirdLife Jamaica Broadsheet Nº 74, March
2000; http://www.birdlifejamaica.com/bljbroadsheet74/broadsheet74p10.html ; “Jamaica: Trees For Tomorrow -
Phase II”, Canadian International Development Agency (CFAN), http://www.rcfa-cfan.org/english/profile.1.html ;
"The Negative Effects of Tourism on the Ecology of Jamaica”, Elaina Kozyr,
- Honduras: The Latin American Mangrove Network is born
Thirty delegates from 10 Latin American countries met at Choluteca, Honduras, from 27 to 30 August to establish
the REDMANGLAR (Mangrove Network). Its main objective is to defend mangroves and coastal ecosystems, to
guarantee their vitality and that of the populations who relate with them, from hazards and impacts of activities,
mainly industrial, likely to degrade the environment.
The REDMANGLAR has the following objectives:
1.- To halt the expansion of inappropriate economic industrial activities in coastal ecosystems as they are
considered to be destructive.
2.- To strengthen the overall development of local communities and their grass-roots organizations and promote
exchange, knowledge and experience.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
3.- To restore remaining mangrove areas and degraded coastal ecosystems, abandoned or illegally occupied by
industries, and reincorporate them for community use, management and custody.
4.- To denounce and halt attempts to legalise and internationally fund industrial aquaculture, tourist industries and
5.- To ensure strict compliance by States, governments and companies with the laws and compensation for
damage caused to communities and ecosystems.
6.- To demand that governments adopt policies and issue laws and other legal instruments, complying with them
in conformity with international treaties to enable the conservation of mangroves and coastal ecosystems.
7.- To disseminate, promote and link local efforts in defence of natural resources and local communities.
8.- To implement awareness and training programmes on the value of mangroves and coastal ecosystems at
national and international levels.
9.- To promote international solidarity in support of REDMANGLAR objectives as a principle and strategy.
10.- To denounce those industrial activities which are presently strongly affecting mangrove and coastal
ecosystems, mainly shrimp farming and industrial tourism.
The Executive Secretariat of this network will be located in Honduras (Coddeffagolf) for the next two years. Those
individuals and organizations interested in joining it may request information from the following address:
Article based on information provided by Elmer Lopez, 4/9/01, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nicaragua: Indigenous people win major legal battle
The Mayagna Indian Community of Awas Tingni has won a major legal battle against the government of
Nicaragua. On September 17, 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights released its decision declaring
that Nicaragua violated the human rights of the Awas Tingni Community and ordered the government to
recognize and protect the community’s legal rights to its traditional lands, natural resources, and environment.
The court’s decision has far-reaching implications. “It is precedent-setting internationally,” said James Anaya,
special counsel to the Indian Law Resource Center which represents the Awas Tingni Community. “Members of
the community have fought for decades to protect their land and resources and against government neglect and
encroachment by loggers. This decision vindicates the rights they have struggled so long to protect.”
There are many similar land and resource disputes across the Americas. This case is the first such dispute ever
to be addressed by the Inter-American Court. Under international law, governments must respect indigenous
peoples’ rights to their traditional land. But if a government does not demarcate indigenous peoples’ land, their
territorial rights remain uncertain.
The Nicaraguan government has exploited that confusion in its own favor and granted foreign companies licenses
to log much of the tropical forest where the community resides. But now the hemisphere’s highest human rights
court says that Nicaragua and other countries must protect indigenous rights.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
The Awas Tingni Community fought for years in Nicaraguan courts to protect their lands and resources. But the
Nicaraguan legal system failed to address the community’s concerns. Then, in 1995 the Indian Law Resource
Center filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the government of
Nicaragua on behalf of the Community of Awas Tingni. The commission is an independent body of the
Organization of American States.
The petition denounced the Nicaraguan government’s pattern of granting logging licenses to foreign companies
on indigenous communities’ ancestral lands without consulting the communities. The commission found in favor
of the community, but the government ignored the commission’s requests for remedial action. In June of 1998,
the commission brought the case before the Inter-American Court.
In its decision, the court stated that Nicaragua violated international human rights law by denying the community
its rights to property, adequate judicial protection, and equal protection under the law. The court ruled that
Nicaragua’s legal protections for indigenous lands were “illusory and ineffective.” It ordered the government to
demarcate the traditional lands of the Awas Tingni Community and to establish new legal mechanisms to
demarcate the traditional lands of all indigenous communities in Nicaragua.
With this decision, the struggle of a single indigenous community along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua has
become a victory for all indigenous peoples of the Americas. This ruling requires every country in the Americas
to rethink the way it deals with indigenous peoples within its borders.
Article based on information from: Indian Law Resource Center (Centro de REcursos Jurídicos para los Pueblos
Indígenas), Press Release, "Landmark Victory for Indians in International Human Rights Case Against
Nicaragua", 21 September 2001, sent by Tom Griffiths, e-mail: email@example.com (See www.indianlaw.org
for a detailed summary of the Awas Tingni case and court decision).
- USA: Statement by Project Underground regarding the September 11 attacks
We at Project Underground are outraged and deeply saddened by this morning's violent attacks on human life
and human possibility in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Project Underground condemns and deplores the
transformation of scores of human beings into weapons to kill thousands of people and terrorize millions more.
We share in the sense of outrage, fear and loss that radiates out from these attacks and offer our deepest
sympathy for those killed, injured and those without their loved ones tonight.
The latest victims of senseless violence and terror are not alone. Through our work we have joined with those
who have seen their loved ones killed, who have experienced terror in its many forms, who have seen their cities
burned before their eyes, and who have seen their cultures crumble around them under the crushing weight of
violence. We have stood with them as they have demanded justice; and they have always reminded us that their
position is little different than our own. As we seek out our own loved ones, as we face the terror of violence in
our own cities, we are also again reminded of the truth of this statement.
Today our society is awash in fear. But what is of greatest concern is those who would use that fear to inflict a
new round of terror. We stand aghast at those who in the wake of today's tragedy can only speak in terms of
dollars and cents. We watch as traders flee to the "security" of gold and oil and are reminded that that "security"
has been purchased with the blood of communities with whom we work.
We are saddened and distraught that some would use the bloodshed today as the pretext for greater hate or for
the reduction of freedom. We urge people not to direct their outrage at communities of colour or at faith
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
communities. Those who would increase the hold of racism or the power to control political dissent in the wake
of this tragedy must not be afforded the opportunity to do so.
We are deeply and profoundly fearful of the impact of retaliatory military attacks and of the military escalation that
results from a United States military response. That needless suffering inflicted on civilians from the sky is
morally unacceptable has never been more clear to the people of the United States of America.
Regrettably, all of these concerns are reinforced by the intimate connections between officials at the highest
levels of the United States Government and the violent repression of the communities with which we work. We
sincerely hope that the diverse sources of strength of the people of this land and solidarity between them can
prove powerful enough to prevent our fears from being used to create yet another round of suffering.
Project Underground, Berkeley, California, September 11, 2001. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bolivia: Shell and Enron Gas pipeline in the Chiquitano Forest
The construction of the gas pipeline between Bolivia and Brazil by the Shell and Enron petroleum companies has
affected an area of 6 million hectares of Chiquitano Forest, inhabited by 178 indigenous and peasant
communities. This forest has been in the hands of Chiquitano and Ayoreo indigenous peoples for hundreds of
In order to grant the loan of 200 million dollars for the construction of the gas pipeline, the US export credit
agency OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) demanded that Enron implement a plan for the
conservation of the Chiquitano dry forest.
To fulfil this requisite, Enron, Shell and its subsidiary in Bolivia, TRANSREDES set up the “Programme for the
Conservation of the Chiquitano Forest,” later to become “Foundation for the Conservation of the Chiquitano
Forest” (FCBC) in association with 4 NGOs. By mid-1999, one of the organizations, originally part of the
Programme, resigned alleging that there was “lack of transparency, conflicts of interests among the executing
bodies and lack of representation and participation of the sectors affected by decision-making.”
The agreement signed between the petroleum companies Enron and Shell and the conservationist NGOs,
establishes funding for an amount of 30 million dollars over 15 years (from voluntary contributions made by said
companies), to be used for conservation activities set out in a previously established plan prepared by the
But as was to be expected with Shell and Enron in the background, things were not progressing well. Mid-1999,
the CPESC (Coordination for the Ethnic Peoples of Santa Cruz), lodged the first complaint against the Foundation
for violation of the laws and rights of the indigenous peoples. From then on, a chain of legal actions has taken
place. The complaints of irregularities and anomalies on the part of the FCBC are many. They refer to the fact that
FCBC is creating a division among the organizations working in the zone, overrunning indigenous and peasant
territories and communities without their agreement or consensus, establishing illegitimate agreements that do not
consider the opinions of local communities, carrying out scientific research going against the communities’
intellectual rights, negotiating with natural resources that do not belong to them, among others.
The Chiquitano, Guarayo, Ayoreo and Guarani peoples who are affected by these actions, demand:
That on-going constitutional and administrative guaranties be enforced to prevent the operation of FCBC in the
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
Chiquitano dry forest until there is a consensus by the affected organizations and communities; that the national
Government applies the law guaranteeing respect for peasant and indigenous rights and demands that Enron and
Shell fulfil the resolutions taken by the competent authorities; that the relevant governmental bodies do not
approve the request for legal capacity requested by the FCBC; that direct participation be given to the peasant
and indigenous associations in decision-making and administration for the conservation of the Chiquitano forest;
to reorient mechanisms for the conservation of the Chiquitano forest in the framework of laws presently in force,
and in particular restoring and guaranteeing the rights set out in ILO Convention 169 and ratified by the 1991 Law
Once more, it is the indigenous peoples that are endeavouring to protect the forest they have managed
sustainably for years from destruction caused by “development” and concealed by so-called conservation projects
that are just another attack against their rights.
Article based on information from: Foro Ecológico y Social, e-mail: email@example.com ; Voces
- Brazil: The rights of Aracruz and the rights of the people
The growing consolidation of land by Aracruz Celulose in Espirito Santo and in the extreme south of Bahia,
followed by plantation of eucalyptus monocrops, is generating increasing opposition. A sign of this was the
International Seminar on eucalyptus and its impacts organized last August by the Legislative Assembly of the
State of Espirito Santo (see WRM Bulletin 49). However the responsible State bodies do not seem to be willing to
undertake the studies necessary to regulate this activity.
In view of this lack of action on the part of the competent bodies, the Movement Alert Against the Green Desert,
decided to document the environmental impacts caused by eucalyptus plantations, carrying out a photographic
survey of the rural properties belonging to the Aracruz Celulose company in the extreme south of the State of
Bahia, covering over 4 thousand kilometres in the municipalities of Prado, Alcobaça. Caravelas, Teixeira de
Freitas, Mucuri and Nova Viçosa. Following this, three experts, members of the Movement, analysed this
information and concluded that, in addition to the fact that Brazilian environmental law is not being complied with,
no adequate follow-up is being made by the competent environmental bodies. This would fully justify an
exhaustive investigation on the basis of documented proof. This survey is available (in Portuguese) at:
But monocrop tree plantations implemented by transnational companies not only cause environmental impacts;
they also cause social ones, as a result of the increasing consolidation of lands in a context in which thousands of
peasants are demanding land. A specific case is that of the hacienda Barba Negra in Espirito Santo, recently
acquired by Aracrus Celulose. On this 400 hectare plot of land live 12 families and they were given until 5
September by the company to vacate it.
Here again, in view of the lack of action by the responsible bodies vis-à-vis the company, civil society has taken a
hand in the matter and on 4 September a group of 200 families of landless rural workers occupied the Barba
Negra hacienda. José Brito, State Coordinator for the Movement of the Landless Peasants (MST), states that
“those occupying the lands must remain there to vindicate the right to the agrarian reform.”
What it sums up to is that the region is living out a contradiction between two types of rights. On the one hand, the
right of a company to acquire lands to be used for the plantation of eucalyptus, and on the other, the rights of the
local people to a decent life and to the conservation of their natural environment. The Espirito Santo Legislative
Assembly now has the opportunity to intercede in favour of the local population and lift the veto imposed by the
Governor on the law seeking to regulate the planting of eucalyptus in the State. On its part, the central
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
government has the opportunity, through its National Institute for Colonisation and Agrarian Reform, to allocate
resources and provide land to thousands of families that are demanding it to be able to work on it. In the near
future we will see which of the rights --those of the company or those of the local population-- take priority over
Article based on information from: Geise Pereira da Silva, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ,"Sem-Terra ocupam
fazenda da Aracruz Celulose" - Secretaria do MST; "Levantamento iconográfico em propiedades de Aracruz
Celulose" - Cepedes.
- Chile: Community forestry as an alternative model
The Chilean forestry model is known in Latin America because of its use of frontline technology in large scale pine
and eucalyptus plantations, the rapid growth of wood-related exports and State subsidies for the promotion of
plantations. Little is said of the social and environmental impacts of these fast growing plantations.
The challenge of finding alternatives to this model, having a higher level of sustainability from the economic,
environmental and social standpoints and a greater level of cultural relevance leads us to examine other ways of
forest management practised by peasant and indigenous communities.
Since pre-Hispanic times, the indigenous communities used their forests to satisfy a wide range of needs. Many
products were harvested and gathered including fruit, mushrooms, stems, medicinal plants, firewood, wood and
forage. The forests were also part of a cultural landscape where traditional rules regulated access to forest
resources, leaving excluded zones and avoiding the problems of what has been called “the tragedy of the
Following the colonisation of indigenous territories, only a small part of the native forests remained under
community control and deforestation spread extensively in the Centre and South of Chile. In spite of this, there
are still wide areas of forest inhabited by indigenous and peasant communities who have inherited part of the
tradition for multiple forest use. In a silent way with very little external support, community forestry continues to be
practiced and has contributed to the persistence of the communities and of their native forests.
In the multiple use of forests and in the community rules for controlling and accessing this resource, we can find
some keys to the sustainability of community forestry. To obtain various products and services from the forests,
biodiversity needs to be maintained in addition to healthy ecosystems. If rules exist regulating access to various
forest zones and areas, conservation and equity in the distribution of benefits will be easier to achieve.
The continuity of this way of using the forest is no longer guaranteed, particularly in the present context of strong
external pressure on forests. The cities in the South of Chile are increasingly demanding firewood for domestic
and industrial use, forestry plantations are widespread, surrounding communities and replacing native village
forests and major projects are established for the exploitation of native forests for boards or chips.
Furthermore, the indigenous and peasant communities themselves have undergone severe changes. Obtaining
income and employment based on the forests is in stronger demand than in the past. The traditional rules for
forest use are weaker in the new generations.
The subject is even more complex if we consider the demands made by national and global society for
communities to continue preserving their forests because of their increasing value as a source of environmental
services such as landscape values, biodiversity, production of water and carbon storage.
In response to this situation, over the past 5 years various initiatives have arisen, supporting community forestry
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
in Chile from international cooperation agencies associated to national governmental and non-governmental
organizations. The idea is to set up a different forestry development model that will contribute to forest
conservation and improve community quality of life.
This is an incipient movement compared to the predominant model, and requires much systematisation of
experience, participatory research, dissemination and promotion. If this initial effort is successful, it will
demonstrate the urgent need of support for community forestry, both by the State and by individual citizens. The
universities should include it in their curricula and research programmes and consumers should start to prefer
forest products and services that are sustainably managed by the communities.
The Chilean situation would not appear to be an exception among the countries with forests in the Southern
Hemisphere. In the same way as the industrial forestry model which builds international networks enabling it to
exist, community forestry should advance in setting up networks that will effectively contribute to generating a
movement having an impact in this field, becoming incorporated into public and private agenda and entering the
universities and research centres and installing itself in citizen awareness.
By: Rodrigo Catalán, e-mail: email@example.com
- Ecuador: Action to stop the oil pipeline continues
A second joint letter from international environmental and human rights organisations is being circulated urging
the head of the financing German bank, the Westdeutsche Landesbank (WestLB), the Prime minister of the
German Federal State Nordrhein Westfalen, NRW (the main shareholder of WestLB), and the two responsible
ministers for finances and economy in NRW, to stop the financial support to the Ecuadorian oil megaproject OCP
(Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados). (to see the full text of the letter please go to:
As previously informed in WRM Bulletin 45, the plan between the Ecuadorian government and OCP Consortium
implies the building of a new 500 km-long oil pipeline which will deliver between 390,000 and 450,000 barrels per
day of heavy crude from oil concessions in the country's eastern rainforest region, known as the Oriente, to
refineries in Esmeraldas on the Pacific Coast.
The US$ 1.1 billion project --delayed for 10 years mostly due to the country’s economic and political instability as
well as the project’s perceived risks-- has been finally approved by the Noboa Administration despite mounting
public opposition, and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2003.
The concession to OCP Ltd., which will double Ecuador’s current oil production, is for 20 years and implies the
ownership, construction and operation of the heavy crude pipeline. The project is the first of its kind to be
executed under new regulations in Ecuador that allow the private ownership and operation of hydrocarbon
facilities. This law, known as TROLE II, is part of the economic bailout package stipulated by the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank to the Ecuadorian government in response to the country’s nearly US$16
billion external debt and commercial bank failure. International creditors push this project as the principal
instrument for the country’s economic recovery and the major precondition for their loans.
The expected dramatic increase in Ecuadorian oil production under a program called Apertura 2000, will set off
another boom in new oil exploration which the government estimates in more than US$ 2 billion. The aim is to
double oil production and exports and to privatise oil infrastructure in order to attract foreign investments to its
recently “dollarized” economy. Much of the heavy crude reserves that would flow through the pipeline starting in
Lago Agrio (Amazonia), are likely to be found in pristine and protected areas of high biodiversity and tourism
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
Without a proper evaluation of the megaproject’s long-term adverse impacts on pristine areas, public health and
water resources of the Amazon region, the consortium goes ahead with the proposed controversial northern route
of the pipeline despite strong opposition from scientists, the eco-tourism industry, local communities, and property
owners, and without adequate public discussion of the alternative routes. Critics denounce that the project
violates the Ecuadorian Constitution, which requires proper prior consultation with affected communities.
And still remains an obvious question: if the past 30 years of oil revenues have not mitigated poverty nor
improved the standard of living in Ecuador --quite the opposite, those communities who live in oil producing
regions or near refineries are experiencing first-hand the serious environmental and social impacts of oil
production including the highest rates of cancer and other degenerative diseases in Ecuador and their quality of
life of continues to worsen--, why will “more of the same” make a change?
Article based on information from: Amazon Watch, http://www.amazonwatch.org/; Oil Watch
- Australian carbon sinks: good for investors, bad for the environment
The compromise agreement reached last July in Bonn on greenhouse gas emissions includes a renegotiated and
broadened definition of sinks which allows tree plantations to be included as carbon sinks. This is certainly good
news for the carbon investment industry. Not for the Earth's climate though.
Now, trees like eucalyptus may be planted elsewhere by international investors, electricity-generating companies
or any other greenhouse gas-emitter which will thus be able to continue pumping out carbon dioxide as owners of
the carbon content stored in the timber of those tree crops, now labelled carbon sinks.
The day after the agreement, the US-based Hancock Natural Resources Group announced that it would establish
a company in Australia --Hancock New Forests Australia-- to allow investors and greenhouse gas producers to
buy into carbon-absorbing trees and thereby gain carbon credits.
The company’s spokesman, David Brand, was enthusiastic about the agreement. No wonder: Hancock launched
a A$ 200 million capital raising drive for the first of a series of investment funds in Australian tree plantations. The
carbon absorbed by the trees could be traded by investors as credits on an international market and they expect
good profits from a low risk investment. The grounds of the business is that it is a cheaper way to meet reduction
emission targets than to actually reduce those emissions.
The Hancock venture is not the first carbon sink business in Australia. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) signed
a A$ 120 million deal with New South Wales State Forests --the government-backed carbon-investment scheme--
last year to plant up to 40,000 hectares of trees, in exchange for ownership of the resulting timber and carbon
Tony O’Hara, investment manager of State Forests, announced that two more major deals may be struck in the
near future. Predictions target to a sharp rise in investment, not only in carbon sinks but in many other schemes
whereby companies could potentially harness carbon credits, like the recycling of methane gas from landfill.
Australia is so heavily dependent on high-emission fossil fuels, that almost anything else looks cheaper than
seriously reducing greenhouse emissions.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
While industrial interests continue devising new tricks to avoid carbon emission reductions and at the same time
to increase their profits, the problems created by climate change continue posing a major threat to the present
and future generations.
Article based on information from: “Gippsland becomes a carbon sink”, Geoff Strong, The Age,
“Australia eyes fledgling carbon sink industry”, Jackie Woods, sent by Yuri Onodera from FOE/Japan,
- Solomon Islands: The alternative to large scale operations
A new report on the social impacts of development on Solomon Islands’ communities has found village-based
enterprises strengthen family and village life. The report, “Caught Between Two Worlds”, concluded that, in
contrast, large-scale industrial enterprises such as logging and plantations often create tension, more work for
women, and damages villagers’ way of life.
Director of the Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT), Abraham Baeanisia, said the findings in the report are
important as Solomon Islands seeks to rebuild its economy. Baeanisia said, “It's clear that village quality of life is
improved by small enterprises and damaged by large-scale (commercial activities). Village businesses create a
lot of employment and economic activity that also generate income for the government. The study reinforces the
need as we rebuild the nation to support village-based development.”
The report is a joint project of SIDT, Greenpeace and researcher and author Pam Oliver, a social impact
specialist. It is based on interviews carried out with the Marovo people in 1999.
“Caught Between Two Worlds” offers solutions to harm done to families and communities by industrial logging
such as the adoption of small to medium scale business models. It recommends an end to funding and promoting
large-scale plantation developments and industrial logging, the setting up of a community compensation and
restoration programme for villages badly affected by logging or plantation development, and to provide financial
support from donors for governments who move away from reliance on industrial logging.
Recent government statistics show that logging has continued at only a slightly lower rate than before the
Solomons crisis. Small-scale economic activities such as ecotourism and ecotimber have suffered heavily due to
tourists staying away and internal infrastructure collapse.
Greenpeace forests specialist, Grant Rosoman said, “While industrial logging may provide some quick money in
the short term, the Marovo study found the social costs to be very high with little real wealth generation and
long-term benefit. We urge donors to consider conditional financial packages that help Melanesian governments
to move away from reliance on unsustainable industrial logging.”
“Caught Between Two Worlds" is a companion report to “Islands Adrift”, an economic study that found small-scale
development options (like reef fishing, bechedemer collection and ecotimber) were worth three times as much to
landowners than industrial activities. The full report is available at:
Source: Pacnews, "Small scale enterprise the way to go as Solomon Islands rebuilds", 26 June 2001. Sent by
Grant Rosoman, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
- The sad figures of employment generated by plantation companies
One of the most commonly used arguments by those promoting large scale monoculture tree plantations is that
they generate employment. As we will see from the following examples, such arguments are false.
Let us look at the multinational company Aracruz Celulose, based in Brazil. Presently the company owns 144,000
hectares of eucalyptus plantations in the States of Espirito Santo and Bahia. According to the data to be found in
its own web page (www.aracruz.com.br) if we add up the hectares of plantations and the hectares of native forest,
this company owns a total of 210,000 hectares of land. It also states in its web page that it has a total of 4,643
employees (of which 1.689 are direct and 2,954 permanently indirect).
Using the rule of three, we find that this company occupies 3.2 employees for every 100 hectares of plantations it
owns. If we were to include the total land belonging to Aracruz, the statistic is even sadder: 2.2 employees for
each 100 hectares of land.
However, this figure is misleading in regard to employment generated at rural level, as it includes employees in
the pulp mill and another series of employees in areas far from the plantations. Therefore, at rural level, it
employs far fewer people.
Let us look at another example from a neighbouring country, Uruguay. The multinational company Weyerhaeuser
from the United States owns a total of 128,000 hectares of land in this country, of which 71,000 are planted with
trees. According to declarations to the press by the company’s Vice-President, “today some 600 people are linked
to the company. A total of 130 people work directly for the company.”
Let us go back to the figures: the company generates 0.18 jobs per 100 hectares planted. If we were to use the
figure of the total lands belonging to the multinational company, this would drop to 0.10 jobs per 100 hectares.
Contrary to the case of Aracruz, in this case the company does not carry out any industrial transformation, better
reflecting the scant level of employment generated by tree plantations. It is interesting to note that the Uruguayan
Forestry Department maintains in its advertising, that this activity generates 3.3 jobs per 100 hectares. As we do
not think that the company is hiding employees, the conclusion is clear: the Forestry Department is not telling the
Let us now see a South African example: the multinational company MONDI, which is also one of the main
shareholders of Aracruz Celulose. This company has a total of 638,000 hectares of land. Of this total, 407,000
hectares are plantations. In turn the company --again according to data in its web site-- has 4,500 employees.
Once again the results we obtain regarding employment generated by these multinational companies are low: in
the case of MONDI, it is 1.1 employee per 100 planted hectares. If we consider the total hectares belonging to
MONDI, the figure drops to 0.7 jobs per 100 hectares. And this in spite of the fact that MONDI also includes the
figures of employees in its industrial sector, which shows a situation similar to that of Aracruz regarding the scarce
generation of rural employment.
To this should be added the low quality of the jobs generated by these companies at the rural level, with low
salaries, poor conditions of housing, food and social security, abusive sub-hiring systems, temporary jobs, etc.
Prospects look even worse with the increasing mechanisation of plantation and harvest, always resulting in a
decreasing number of jobs.
Summing up, although there may be some exceptions to the rule, in practice it may be seen that plantation
companies do not fulfil their promises of generating employment and, on the contrary, make the situation even
worse than it was before their arrival, increasing rural to urban migration.
WRM BULLETIN # 50 September 2001
Article based on information from: MONDI, http://www.mondi.co.za/forests/index.html ; ARACRUZ,
www.aracruz.com.br ; Semanario Brecha, 17/9/01, “Una matemática de empleos que falla” ; Diario El País,
- New WRM book on the impacts of oil palm plantations
Soap, lipsticks, chocolate or perfumes are difficult to perceive as products associated to deforestation and human
rights abuses in the tropics. However, this can easily be the case when one of their components is palm oil,
though few people outside the plantation areas are aware about this.
The first aim of this book is thus to highlight the impacts associated with large-scale oil palm plantations by
providing a general overview of the problem and a broad range of country-level situations, ranging from articles to
detailed case studies in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
However, the book's main objective is to generate broader support --South and North-- to local people struggling
to protect their forests and lands against the spread of this new invasion. In most tropical countries oil palm
plantations are only in their initial stage and it is therefore still possible to prevent their implementation; in other
countries it is necessary to halt their further spread. Much more research, information-sharing, campaigning and
networking is needed to achieve those objectives and we sincerely hope that this book will serve as a useful tool
for that purpose.
To request a copy of the book please contact: email@example.com including name, organization, country and postal
address. Non profit NGOs from the South can ask for a free copy of the book. For other organizations or
institutions its cost is U$S 20 (shipment included).