in the midlands of KwaZulu Natal or the Western Cape by 9OKubSw0


									                         WORLD RAINFOREST MOVEMENT

International Secretariat                                                                     Ph: +598 2 403 2989
Ricardo Carrere (Coordinator)                                                               Fax: +598 2 408 0762
Maldonado 1858; CP 11200                                                             Email:
Montevideo - Uruguay                                                             

                                                                                             WRM BULLETIN # 29
                                                                                               December 1999
In this issue:

- The battle of Seattle                                                                                   2

- Nigeria: Cross River's forests need your help                                                           3
- South Africa: what are the true costs of woodlots?                                                      4
- Tanzania: afforestation, reforestation and the real causes of forest destruction                        5
- World Bank promotes oil palm and rubber plantations in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire
- Indonesia: new legislation, old problems                                                                7
- Malaysia: certification against peoples' rights in Sarawak                                              8
- Malaysia: the "progress" brought by the Bakun dam in Sarawak                                            9
- Philippines: remaining mangroves under siege                                                            10
- Sri Lanka: politics in forests                                                                          10
- Costa Rica: environmentally or industrially-friendly forest management?                                 12
- Bolivia: the government legalises what is illegal                                                       13
- Brazil: say what they say, Monte Pascoal belongs to the Pataxó                                          13
- Brazil: will forest destruction be sponsored by the law?                                                14
- Colombia: the U'wa people do not surrender                                                              15
- Colombia: the Embera Katio's struggle for life                                                          15
- Chile: under the shadow of Pinochet                                                                     16
- Ecuador: the future of the Chachi indigenous people and their forests                                   17
- Papua New Guinea: the struggle of the Maisin indigenous people                                          18

- Plantations' impacts are always social                                                                  19
- Aracruz: the naked emperor                                                                              19
- Networking in action: Australia-Uruguay                                                                 21
- Call for global moratorium on genetically engineered trees                                              21
- Tree plantations and trade                                                                              22

- Indigenous Peoples' Seattle Declaration                                                                 23
- Dialogue with the World Bank?                                                                           23
- Declaration on Andean Ecosystems                                                                        23

WRM GENERAL ACTIVITIES                                                                                    24
WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

                                                 OUR VIEWPOINT

- The battle of Seattle

What happened in Seattle was historical. Regardless of whether the ministerial conference's failure to reach an
agreement was the result of the action of the thousands of people in the streets or the result of the internal
contradictions of governments -or a combination of both- the fact is that history was made in the streets and not
in the "green rooms."

What was historical was not the fact that the police -which as everyone now knows is not that different in the US
than elsewhere- used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, helicopters and other "peace-keeping" tools. That is the
usual pattern used by governments whenever they get frightened. The US government proved to be no exception.
What was historical was the fact that so many people, from all over the world, got together and expressed
-through different means- a common demand: no new round! Not because all those people were against trade in
itself, but because they all shared the view that trade must be equitable, beneficial to people and respectful of the
environment. Those people knew that the WTO negotiations were going in the opposite direction -inequitable,
beneficial to transnational corporations and disrespectful to the environment- and joined forces to oppose it.

The different people present in Seattle carried out their activities in different arenas. Some organized seminars
open to activists and government delegates, others lobbied the different government officials, many disseminated
their viewpoints on paper and in electronic format, some organized press conferences, others implemented
community radio programmes, a few carried out high profile actions inside and outside the conference room -for
instance the Rainforest Action Network's huge banners hanging from a crane- and many other activities. But most
importantly: all the above activities took place within the special atmosphere created by the scores of thousands
of people in the streets which resisted -in spite of the cold, the wind, the rain and the police- throughout the WTO
ministerial. That heroic resistance in the streets was not only the core component of the protest, but also provided
additional strength to the people involved in the other activities and most participated in both street and indoor
activities. Most importantly, the street got the media's attention. When, in a normal situation, journalists would
have focused on interviewing government delegates, in this case they turned their attention to the protesters.

It is obvious that this was not a spontaneous struggle. Much research, awareness raising, training, information
dissemination, networking and organization took place well before the meeting. But neither was it a centralized
activity. Many people converged to Seattle through separate channels and only joined forces there, unaware of
who the other people were, but somehow knowing that they were on the same side.

Seattle was in many aspects a huge success for WTO opponents and a catastrophic failure for the future of this
institution. The protest achieved an incredible worldwide media coverage. Whenever people from around the
world hear again about the WTO, they will remember the battle of Seattle and they will at least know that
something smells rotten with this organization. This is a very good start indeed.
But even more importantly, Seattle showed ways forward for many of the local struggles which are taking place
throughout the world to face the same forces leading to social and environmental disaster. It showed the strength
that can be developed through decentralized and coordinated action. It showed that people from all cultures can
come together when there is a common and deeply felt objective. And it showed the inherent weakness of the
seemingly invincible alliance of corporations, multilateral organizations and governments. Some 50,000 people
-armed only with their convictions- made the whole building rock and this happened within the boundaries of the
mightiest military and economic power on Earth. The apparently impossible seems to be -after this- becoming

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                           DECEMBER      1999

                                        LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS


- Nigeria: Cross River's forests need your help

Between 70 and 80% of Nigeria's original forests have disappeared and nowadays the area of its territory
occupied by forests is reduced to 12%, even if the entire country is located in the humid tropics. All of the
country's remaining primary rainforest watersheds, covering about 7,000 km2, are located in Cross River state.
This region also contains 1,000 km2 of mangrove and swamp forest, being oil exploitation an important cause of
their degradation and destruction (see WRM Bulletin 22).

Commercial logging and hunting of wildlife are important threats to Nigerian primary rainforest and its dependent
species. Cross River state is very rich in biodiversity. It harbours several species of primates, migratory and
resident birds, and 950 species of butterflies -a quarter of the number to be found in tropical Africa- 100 of which
are endemic. Many of Africa's rarest trees, such as mahogany, ironwood, camwood and mimosup, grow in this
forest, that is connected to a larger forest area in neighbouring Cameroon. Exports of roundwood of valuable
species -such as afzelia (Afzelia africana), ekki, idigbo (Terminalia ivorensis), obeche, and teak (Tectona
grandis)- to Europe, the USA and Japan is depleting Cross River's forests.

Social aspects concerning the region are also relevant. NGOCE -a coalition of Cross River conservation groups-
is promoting activities for a sustainable use of the forests to the benefit of the local dwellers, as an alternative to
the present depredation by foreign actors. Among them: education programmes for the local communities
regarding the importance of a healthy forest to their self-sufficient lifestyle, assistance to the communities in
developing alternative income-generating projects that will alleviate pressure on the forest, and support to
fundraising efforts and provision of technical assistance to NGOs.

Recently Cross River state's new Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, suspended all forest logging concessions that were
granted under the previous administration. The cancellation of logging licenses is connected with the reckless
manner in which the forest reserves had been exploited and a response to the continuous demands of
environmental and social NGOs, as the above named NGOCE.

An international campaign is in course aimed at supporting these conservation efforts. Those interested in
contributing to it can address Cross River's Governor, asking him to permanently revoke WEMPCO's forest
concessions and wood processing permits, which are currently a major threat to the state's rainforest. Hong
Kong-based WEMPCO plans to log and export hundreds of thousands of board-feet of Nigerian lumber. Indicate
that sustainable, small-scale, diversified community businesses are far healthier for communities and their
economies than cut-and-run export schemes, and that tree monocultures absolutely cannot replace complex and
rich forest ecosystems. Your messages are to be send to:

Mr. Donald Duke
Executive Governor of Cross River State
Office of the Governor
P.M.B. 1070
Calabar, Cross River State
Fax: (++234) 87 239 191

Source: Global Response, 22/11/99, e-mail:

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                         DECEMBER      1999

- South Africa: what are the true costs of woodlots?

What is a woodlot? Is it a patch of land planted to trees for the purpose of supplying the fuel and timber needs of
a rural community? Or is it a small portion of a giant industrial plantation, meeting the pulp and paper needs of
first world industrial society?

An exact answer to these questions would help to erase the uncertainty that exists in my mind. However, clear
answers have not been forthcoming, and over the past twenty years, whilst living in Zululand, I have come to
these conclusions.

The conversion of grazing or other agricultural land into Eucalyptus plantations has been driven by the two larger
timber-plantation companies in the area. In their eagerness to obtain control of suitable land for growing
Eucalyptus, both SAPPI and Mondi embarked on a land acquisition spree in the late 1980’s. Vast areas that once
consisted of hundreds of independent, privately owned farms were purchased at what was then thought to be
excessively high prices. These high prices were motivated by competition between the two major players and it
was important to “close the gaps” that stood in the way of consolidating these farms into vast, mono-culture
estates. This made it profitable for the last few farmers to hold out as long as possible, while SAPPI and Mondi
battled to maintain their sources of raw material.

After acquiring the land the timber companies embarked on a course that involved firstly, removing all former farm
workers and the destruction of worker accommodation. Even expensive farm-houses and buildings, such as
workshops and store rooms, were bull-dozed to make way for seemingly endless tracts of gum trees (Eucalyptus

Where did the people who once lived on these farms go? Well, the white farm-owners received a great deal of
money and were able to move away to comfortable homes in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal or the Western Cape
(two provinces in South Africa) or Australia. What happened to the farm workers is anyone’s guess.
Over-crowding in the tribal lands made returning to these areas impossible. I suspect that most of them were left
with little choice but to head for the squatter settlements of Durban (South Africa’s largest harbour) or Dukuduku
(an area of sub-tropical forest adjacent to the Greater St Lucia World Heritage Site) where they could eke out a

Once they had dealt with the problem of unwanted workers and buildings on the farms that they had purchased,
the timber companies were then faced with another problem. This was the large numbers of staff that were
inherited with the acquisition of the privately owned Waterton Timbers and Shell Forestry, (a subsidiary of Royal
Dutch Shell), by SAPPI and Mondi respectively. On a single day, SAPPI retrenched more than 600 workers from
its Kwa-Mbonambi operation –all in the name of “rationalisation”. This meant that the company would save a lot of
money through not having to pay benefits to permanent employees. The risks of “unionisation” and strike action
were passed on to the contractors who were appointed to supply labour and other services at cut-throat rates.
Workers, who had formerly enjoyed all the normal benefits of permanent employment, were now reduced to
having to beg or bribe for casual jobs on a daily basis. To make matters worse, this was in competition with
desperate informal migrants from Mozambique. Many local people simply refused to work for the offered daily rate
of R12.00 (approx. 2 US dollars).

What does all of this have to do with woodlots? Particularly woodlots on community land which belongs to the
Ngonyama Trust, representing His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelethini (monarch of the Zulu people)?

Woodlots, which total thousands of hectares, but have never been subjected to planting permit applications,
which the law requires.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                           DECEMBER      1999

Woodlots, which are de facto the property of the large plantation companies, but stand on land that they have
neither purchased, nor paid any rent for.
Woodlots, grown from seedlings supplied by the timber companies concerned, yet who refuse to take
responsibility for the negative social and environmental problems that they cause!

In the Sokhulu tribal area, situated to the north of Richards Bay, it is quite obvious that the dominant land use is
Eucalyptus plantations. How did this come to be? Well, the answer is quite simple: Mondi had purchased as much
white owned land as was possible, between the towns of Gingindhlovu, Babanango and Hluhluwe, yet could still
not satisfy the need for wood at their mill at Richards Bay. They had no choice but to start looking at the
community owned land in former Kwa-Zulu apartheid homeland.

The Mondi RDP (Reconstruction and Development) “woodlot” project has been so “successful” that hardly any
land at Sokhulu remains unplanted to Eucalyptus. Poor SAPPI, desperate not to lose the supply of raw material
needed to keep it’s Mandeni and Mkomazi mills going, was forced to look further north, to the rolling grasslands of
coastal Maputaland. So desperate in fact, that they even tried their luck in southern Mozambique – thankfully
without success!

Reconstruction and Development cannot be served by removing peoples’ means to survive in the rural

So what is happening? Slowly but surely more and more land is being planted to Eucalyptus. More and more
water is sucked out of the Earth, to create wood fibre, which is exported to destinations like Japan and Europe, at
a fraction of its true cost. A “privileged” minority appears to benefit from the sale of timber to Mondi and Sappi, but
for the vast majority of members of traditional communities it means the end to the natural resources upon which
they relied for survival. Grazing for cattle and goats has disappeared under the spreading plantations. The loss of
surface water has ruined prospects of growing food crops and people’s traditional lifestyle has been left in tatters.
Where will these people go? Well, some may move to informal settlements around towns in the area, but many
more have moved to the squatter-cities around Durban. Here the people can taste the benefits of “civilised

Breathe the rotten air, polluted by factories, freeways and landfill sites!
Roam the streets, scratching in waste-bins and sniff glue for pleasure!
Become economically active in the lucrative crime and prostitution industry!
Give their kids Coca-Cola and GE chips for lunch.
Thank you SAPPI, thank you Mondi for your great contribution to the Reconstruction and Development of South

It must be admitted that there are other culprits. South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has
failed to recognise the monstrous problems arising from the proliferation of so-called woodlots, using
nice-sounding names like “community forestry ” which is hardly the case.

By Wally Menne, Timberwatch Coalition, 8/12/99, e-mail:

- Tanzania: afforestation, reforestation and the real causes of forest destruction

Tanzania's forests are quickly disappearing and illegal commercial logging is the main cause of the problem. Not
only does the government seem unable to address the present state of things, but forestry officials themselves
have been accused of being directly involved in the illegal timber trade. Other suspects in the illegal timber

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                            DECEMBER      1999

business are timber product dealers, private individuals, sawmillers and logging companies (see WRM Bulletin
Recent news from that country say that the government has launched an ambitious national tree planting
campaign aimed at "re-greening" the country by planting 100 million trees. To the official viewpoint, forest
destruction is particularly alarming in the rural areas where traditional shifting cultivation and livestock keeping are

Thousands of refugees form Rwanda and Burundi have migrated to Tanzania to escape from the situation of
extreme violence resulting from the conflicts that affect their respective countries. The authorities have recently
urged Burundian refugees in the western region of Kigoma to stop felling trees and instead join the government's
green campaign. Like their Tanzanian hosts, the refugees rely heavily on wood fuel for their daily energy
requirements, since wood is by far the most important source of energy in that country, as is common in Africa.

The government's initiative deserves some comments. It is not clear if the government is envisaging a
reforestation or an afforestation campaign. The difference is essential, since the former means that areas that
used to be covered by forest will be planted with native species, aiming at the rehabilitation of the original
ecosystem, while the latter consists of the plantation of exotic trees, usually fast-growing species. The social and
environmental consequences of the two approaches are totally different and there is therefore a need for
clarification on the matter. Secondly, the official analysis of the causes of deforestation seems to be cleary biased
against the poor. While the emphasis is put on shifting agriculture, grazing and the use of firewood by local people
and refugees, nothing is said about the intensification of export crop production in semiarid areas -which has led
to soil erosion and desertification processes- or about illegal commercial logging -the main cause of deforestation
in the country- which is linked to corruption within its own agencies and officials.

Sources: Panafrican News Agency, 29/11/99; The World Guide 1997/98.

- World Bank promotes oil palm and rubber plantations in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire

By different means the World Bank is one of the major and most influential promoters of the prevailing
monoculture tree plantation model. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) -a part of the World Bank Group,
whose specific task is the promotion of private sector investment in "poor" countries- has been directly investing in
projects linked to tree plantations, for example in Kenya and Brazil.

The IFC has recently signed two agreements to fund two of these initiatives in West Africa. One of them consists
of the reopening of a rubber company in Liberia that was shut down during the civil war, while the other is the set
up of an oil palm plantation in Côte d'Ivoire.

The Liberian Agricultural Company (LAC) will receive a loan of U$S 3.5 million to develop a rubber plantation in
its 120,000 hectares estate. Between 1961 and 1984 the company had planted rubber there in an area of 10,500
hectares, which was abandoned because of the civil war. According to its promoters, the project will create jobs,
provide health and education, and improve rural infrastructure, benefiting 800 small holders.

The holding company of Côte d'Ivoire's leading producer of rubber -Societe des Caoutchoucs de Grand Bereby
(SOGB)- will receive a U$S 6 million IFC loan to establish an oil palm plantation in that country. The plantation will
occupy 5,000 hectares and in a second phase of the project the company will build a crude palm oil factory to
process its production. It has been underscored that the new plantations will avoid areas of secondary rainforest,
which SOGB has guaranteed to protect. SOGB already operates a 15,000 hectare rubber plantation and
processes rubber, mainly for export.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                           DECEMBER      1999

The globalization of the plantation model is a reality, also regarding rubber and oil palm production. The
Compagnie Internationale de Cultures (Intercultures), an affiliate of Societe Financiere des Caoutchoucs
(SOCFINAL S.A.), owns 75% of the Liberian Agricultural Company. SOCFINAL is a Luxembourg holding
company with agricultural, real estate, banking, and financial interests, and major holdings in oil palm and rubber
not only in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, but also in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cameroon and Nigeria. In the rubber
production project in Liberia also participates PROPARCO, the private sector lending arm of the French
development agency Agence Francaise de Developpement. At the same time both Intercultures and
PROPARCO are shareholders in SOGB.

Mr. Tei Mante, Director of IFC's Agribusiness Department, said that both agreements would lead to more
employment and higher living standards, that they will promote exports that will earn foreign currency, while
supporting agricultural production with maximum sensitivity to the environment. Everything sounds incredibly nice
. . . but the problem is that reality shows a completely different situation. Promises of a higher quality of life for
local dwellers, an improvement of poor countries' economies, the respect for the environment, etc. are in blatant
contradiction with the negative consequences on people and the environment that similar projects based on vast
tree monocultures bring about with them. The few and poor quality jobs that such projects create seldom improve
local peoples' quality of life and the environmental impacts that large-scale tree monocultures entail result in
further impoverishment of local populations. If the World Bank is really willing to fulfil its mandate of poverty
alleviation, then it should begin to reorient its loans to investments which create better employment opportunities
than those generated by this type of plantations.

Sources: Africa News Online, 19/11/99,
 WRM Plantations campaign,


- Indonesia: new legislation, old problems

Intentional fires, tree monoculture plantations and mining are direct causes of deforestation in Indonesia.
Additionally, indigenous peoples traditional rights over their territories are ignored. As a result, the country's once
vast and luxurious forests are vanishing and, according to two recent independent studies, deforestation rate is
faster than what the authorities are used to admitting. A World Bank research, based on map studies, and issued
last July estimates an annual forest loss of 1.5 million hectares during the last two decades. The results obtained
by a research performed by the UK government-funded Regional Physical Planning Programme for
Transmigration reveal similar figures to the previous one. Nowadays only 19.5 million hectares out of the 47
million hectares of forests that Indonesia had in 1996 remain unlogged. The paper points out that illegal logging is
so serious a problem that most areas will not recover sufficiently to allow a second cutting cycle.

In such context, urgent action to address the problem is essential, but the government's response is not only
totally inadequate, but even paves the way for further forest destruction. In the final period of President Habibie's
interim regime a Forestry Act (Nr. 4/1999) was passed to substitute the previous 1967 Basic Forestry Law.
Indonesian NGOs, IPOs, and academics consider that the new legislation is no advance to protect the country's
forests and forest peoples. During the consultation process prior to its approval, civil society spokespersons had
already expressed their opposition to the draft's content and to the process itself, arguing that it should have been
more open and democratic.

The 1999 Forestry Act does not recognise the rights or protect the interests of forest peoples, which are named
as "communities with customary laws" and not indigenous peoples. In this regard it is even worse that the 1960
Basic Agrarian Law, since it explicitly includes customary lands within state forests, which means that they can be

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

granted as concessions to private or state-owned companies. Participation of communities is limited to guarding
forests and reforestation programmes but nothing is mentioned about decision-making. Restrictions imposed to
local communities for the use of forest resources are enormous what makes difficult for them to continue with their
traditional land use practices.

Some positive aspects of the new Law -as the acknowledgement of the role of NGOs in monitoring forest
developments, education programmes and reforestation- are not essential and do not change the general
approach of the government, that refuses to address the underlying causes of deforestation and forest
degradation in the country, and to give place to a democratic process regarding not only forest management but
also the fate of the people who live in them and have been the real guardians of the forest.

Source: Down to Earth Nr. 43, November 1999, e-mail:

- Malaysia: certification against peoples' rights in Sarawak

Several NGOs -among them the Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS), Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the
Earth), SACCESS,       Keruan Association Sarawak, Centre for Orang Asli Concerned (COAC) and
EPSM/CETDEM- took part at the first consultative meeting of the Malaysian National Timber Certification Council
(NTCC) which took place from 18-21 October, 1999, in Kuala Lumpur.

Even if the majority of the participants were representatives of timber companies and associations and Forest
Department officials, the representatives of civil society were able to express their viewpoints on the issue.

According to the organizers of the meeting, the primary objective of certification is to attain sustainable forest
management (SFM) and the implementation process is through the establishment of the Forest Management
Unit (FMU) and further, the land areas within the FMU has to be recognised as a permanent forest estate (PFE).
In Sarawak, the establishment of a permanent forest estate -which comprises Forest Reserve and Protected
Forest- requires the extinguishment of Native Customary Rights over the land affected. Local dwellers would only
conserve their right to collect forest products for domestic purposes, subject to the control of the Forest
Department. The NGOs expressed their opposition to this criteria and said that they would not endorse the
proposed Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for certification (MC&I).

In Malaysia, as well as in several Southern countries where communal rights on land are recognised, it is clear
that forest conservation is strongly linked to the recognition of traditional rights on the land to local communities
and indigenous peoples, which have proved to perform sustainable practices. On the contrary, the State
administration frequently paves the way to indiscriminate logging, commercial plantations, mining and other
depredatory activities with cause the degradation and the destruction of the forests.

The NGOs present at the meeting circulated the following Position Statement dated October 21st:

"In principle, we fully support the concept and implementation of certification through the process of MC&I to
achieve sustainable management in Malaysia.

However, the attainment of sustainable forest management and the establishment of the Forest Management Unit
(FMU) of which the process of the proposed MC&I can be implemented, ignores the native customary rights and
privileges of the local communities to enable their meaningful participation.

The establishment of the FMU requires the constitution of Permanent Forest Estate (PFE), the consequence of
which, by virtue of the Sarawak Forest Ordinance explicitly extinguishes the natives’ customary rights and

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

privileges of the local indigenous communities over their land and resources thereon. Therefore, the process of
the MC&I is unable to provide for the protection of the rights and privileges of the local communities and to
provide for meaningful participation of these local communities.

We henceforth propose that certification in Sarawak be deferred pending the resolution of the above mentioned

Malaysia, and the state of Sarawak in particular, have long been the focus of attention and concern regarding the
unsustainable exploitation of forests. ITTO studies of the present decade have shown that log production levels in
Sarawak are consistently much higher than the ones ITTO itself recommends as sustainable. Additionally, it has
to be pointed out that in a broader vision of sustainability -which includes not only technical but also cultural and
social aspects- the unsustainability of such practices would be irrrefutable. The development of certification
systems has been a response to the consumers' demand for forest products produced in a sustainable manner.
Certification should offer an assurance of environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically viable
management of forests. This means that no certification would be possible for Sarawak's forests unless present
conditions radically change.

Sources: Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS), 12/11/99, e-mail:

- Malaysia: the "progress" brought by the Bakun dam in Sarawak

For years the Bakun Dam Project has aroused great concern among environmental and social NGOs and
indigenous peoples' organizations in Sarawak and worldwide, which have opposed this megaproject since it is
detrimental to Sarawak's remaining primary forests that lie in the catchment area and to the indigenous people
that inhabit them (see WRM Bulletins 2, 9 and 24).

The forced resettlement of the Bakun residents -which sum about 10,000 indigenous people belonging to 15
longhouses- is another negative consequence of this "development" project. Together with the extinguishment of
their Native Customary Rights over their ancestral lands, thousands of indigenous peoples from the Kayan,
Kenyah, Lahanan, Ukit and Penan ethnic groups have been uprooted from their homes and resettled in Asap,
about 30 kilometres from the dam site.

Not only the traditional cultivation systems of the indigenous peoples have completely disappeared -since each
family has been given just a small plot to work on- but also arbitrariness and irregularities reign regarding the
government's promise of compensation for their lost lands. Many of them claim that they have been grossly
undercompensated or of not having received any money at all. Moreover, most of the compensations did not even
reach the price of the new modest houses they are now obliged to live in. Even low cost houses in other parts of
the country are much cheaper and higher quality. Additionally, instead of involving the natives in the construction
of the new homes, Bucknalls -a UK based multinational- was contracted to build the longhouses and
infrastructures. Last but not least the "modern" village lacks completely adequate infrastructure regarding roads,
waste disposal and schools.

With this resettlement the indigenous communities have lost their land and are in a rapid process of aculturisation
produced by the conversion of their self-sustainable economy into a full cash economy. At the same time their
land and forests -which have been their home for centuries- will end by being submerged by the Bakun
megaproject. Can we call this "progress"?

Source: Mohamed Idris, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 26/11/99; e-mail:

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                           DECEMBER      1999

- Philippines: remaining mangroves under siege

Only 3% of the dense rainforests that once existed in The Philippines is still standing and less than 1% of the
former forest is still in a pristine state (see WRM Bulletin 27). The Province of Aurora, which comprises a strip of
land between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Pacific Ocean, is an exception, because unlike most of the
country, it still maintains over 50% of its original forest cover, even some as primary forests. Along the coastline
there are 430 hectares of mangroves. The area is also home of the Dumagat and the Igorot indigenous peoples
and shelters some endangered species.

In the early 1990s, the shrimp farm Diapitan Resources Development Corporation (DRDC) began to operate in
the area. Its intensive operational system -which comprises high stocking densities, concrete ponds, water
pumping, feeding with pellets and application of chemicals and chlorine- have provoked concern among the
residents of the villages of Masagana and Maligaya. Already in September 1997 they presented a complaint in
relation to the environmental impact of DRCD's activities, such as salinization of groundwater in wells which
provide fresh water to the towns, skin irritations suffered by mangrove fishers who gather shellfish near the shrimp
farm, fish kills and deformities attributed to chemical pollution, severe reduction in fish catch near the shore, coral
deaths due to deposition of pond sludge, and alteration of river banks, limiting access of artisanal fishing boats
and causing flooding during heavy rains.

Nevertheless, the company is planning to expand its shrimp farming activities to the adjacent municipality of
Casiguran. This is the third site that DRDC has tried to develop. Their first option to expand their present site in
Dilasag had to be abandoned due to the strong opposition of local residents, and the permission for the second
target area -a proposed marine protected area in Casapsapan Bay- was denied by the local government. A
coalition of environmental NGOs and concerned people -called Aurora Support Group- has been formed to
protect these mangroves and to avoid the expansion of DRDC in the area.

Industrial shrimp farming does not only provoke negative environmental impacts, but also social ones. Although
shrimp farms promise employment and improved living standards for local communities, this is seldom the case.
In The Philippines, detailed studies of two communities in Iloilo and Aklan, in the central region of the country,
have shown that local dwellers do not receive any benefit from this activity. Only low-paid, unskilled jobs are
available to local people, while managerial and technical posts go to outsiders, and profits to the owners and
shareholders of the company. Additionally, small-scale fishers lose their livelihood as mangroves are cut and
marine resources degraded.

National legislation recognises the ecological, social and economic importance of mangroves. Their cutting is
banned and moreover, a mangrove greenbelt along rivers and facing seas and oceans is required by various
laws. However, as in this case, reality differs very much from what the law states.

For more information on the issue, please visit Industrial Shrimp Action Network's web site:

Source: Late Friday News, 50th Ed., 25/11/99.

- Sri Lanka: politics in forests

Forests are trees. Forests are biodiversity. Forests are wildlife. Forests are lands. Moreover, forests are politics.
Development is clearing of forests. Conservation means more and more consultancies. Protection means a wider

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

and wider gap between the forest and the communities. Regarding the forest issue, the context in Sri Lanka is not
much different from this reality.
The recent development initiatives promoted by the government aimed to open the country's economy will be very
destructive to the forest in general. Aquaculture development projects have already destroyed about 4000
hectares of our mangroves since 1989. According to a survey performed in 1982 we had only 8000 hectares of
mangroves left. Although we were not able to stop aquaculture in the north western province, since 1994 we have
managed to stop aquaculture development in the southern province.

A number of "development" projects which implied the clearing of 8000 hectares of forest to give place to a
baby-corn plantation in Balaharuwa, in the Uva province in 1998, the logging of 25000 hectares of similar forests
in the Monaragala district of the same province in 1997, the destruction of 5000 hectares of another forest for a
pineapple plantation in Bibila, in Madagama also at Uva province in 1991, and the clearing of 2000 hectares of
forest for "Rambutan" plantation, were stopped as a result of successful protests carried out by environmental
groups and the public against those depleting activities.

Attempts are currently being made to allocate lands in national parks among the government's political supporters
within the framework of the forthcoming presidential elections. The subdivision of 1200 hectares of forest in
Lunugamwehera National Park, 800 hectares from Wasgomuwa National Park and 500 hectares from Ritigala
Strict Nature Reserve are major cases which have generated heavy protests.

The government which ruled the country from 1970 to 1977 is responsible for the clearing of both dry zone and
humid zone forests which affected about 77000 hectares of the virgin Sinharaja Forests. As a result of the protest
against this destruction, the project was stopped, but the infrastructure already established for the destruction of
the forest allowed the people involved in the project to continue carrying out their activities with the government's
support until 1988.

A forestry sector Master Plan was prepared by the Finnish "cooperation" agency FINNIDA in 1986. The plan
suggested that all the dry zone forests -which are about 800-1000 years old- should be harvested. The plan also
stated that many humid zone forests did not play any essential role and needed no protection, since Sri Lanka
would get the monsoon rains twice a year even without forests. Environmental groups, among which the
Environmental Foundation, protested so strongly that they were able to stop World Bank funding support for the
proposal. Moreover, in 1988 the government declared a logging ban which is still in force.

The second Forestry Master Plan process started in the year 1991 and after a 5 year process, a document was
published. But nowadays it has become a white elephant. Even if a new forest policy was adopted in 1995, the
current activities show that reality completely differs from what is established by the law.

A recent proposal of the Asian Development Bank recommends the setting up of tree plantations in an area of
1000 hectares, and the creation of joint ventures for commercial logging. These joint ventures will be provided all
kinds of concessions, including facilities to import the latest equipment for logging and for processing machinery,
such as new timber mills. About one third of the ADB funds under this proposal have been allocated for the
commercial forest management component, which comprises both forests and plantations. It is the most recent
initiative for the promotion of commercial forestry in Sri Lanka.

The logging ban established by the governement is being evaded by illegal logging. Politicians, bureaucrats and
many powerful people are behind the mafia which rules it. Every day more than 75 lorries transporting roundwood
come from Monoragala District, where most of the forests are available today. This mafia operates with the
support of the local government officers and the forest officers.

WRM       BULLETIN           # 29                                                            DECEMBER       1999

Every now and then the government reacts, and adopts absurd steps to solve the problem of the illegal felling of
trees, trying to turn it into a legal activity. For example, the Jack tree -a fruit tree- is protected under the food act,
and felling it has always been considered an offence. Nevertheless, last year the government removed this law.
Just after this, more than 100,000 jack trees were felled within a month's time. When the government reacted and
regazetted the law, the damage was already done.

For many politicians and bureaucrats forests are just trees and lands. But for communities forests are water, air,
food, shelter, medicine, and providers of other basic needs. Therefore what Sri Lanka needs is a forestry sector
which respects the communities and their lifestyles. We cannot achieve this until we get away from the current
dominating bureaucracy, politics and consultancies.

By Hemantha Withanage; Environmental Foundation, Sri Lanka e-mail:


- Costa Rica: environmentally or industrially-friendly forest management?

In the Region Huetar Norte of Costa Rica, the forest area has been reduced to the lowlands of the San Juan River
on the border with Nicaragua. What used to be a vast tropical forest that occupied more than 200,000 hectares
has been reduced to a mere 30,000 hectares of fragmented forests, most of which severely logged. Unlike what
happens in other regions of the country, in Huetar Norte there are no protected areas, all the remaining forests
are categorized as wood production forests, and the region's biodiversity is in the hands of forestry management
plans. A preliminary study of biodiversity in that area, performed by COECOCEIBA (Friends of the Earth - Costa
Rica), identified 141 tree species per hectare, including only those individuals having diameters over 10
centimetres. Such figures indicate that this is one of the most biodiversity rich forests in the country. Additionally,
25 endangered tree species at the national or global level were found, 5 out of which are considered in danger of
extinction in Costa Rica. The area is also well known for the existence of the parrot "lapa verde" (Ara ambigua), a
bird whose population has been decreasing together with the forest area, and nowadays consists of just a few
scores of reproductive couples.

Huetar Norte has been one of the major wood producers for domestic use. It has been estimated that no less than
30% of wood consumption in Costa Rica during the last 15 years was supplied by the forest resources of this
region. In spite of this, the region is characterized by rural poverty, lack of job opportunities and education, and
youth migration in search of a better future.

Nowadays logging is tending to decrease especially because of the shortage of wood. Additionally, according to
the new forest management system, post-harvest treatments are being applied which destroy seedlings and even
some "non desirable" trees, to favour conditions for the growth of a few commercial species. The basic idea is to
standardize the forest, by simplifying its composition so that it becomes something similar to a plantation. A study
also performed by COECOCEIBA in one site of the region concluded that some 20 trees per hectare had been
purposely destroyed -by killing the standing tree- and that a total of 19 species were affected in this manner. Two
of those species are considered to be endangered and one is considered to be a "new" species for science.

The issue is especially serious taking into account that such practices are being financed by official funds devoted
to the payment of environmental services for the conservation of forests. Such funds are a kind of incentive
offered by the government to the owners of the woodlands with the aim of promoting environmentally friendly
management practices regarding biodiversity and the capacity of forests to store carbon.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                            DECEMBER      1999

Several environmental NGOs -among them COECOCEIBA- are working together with peasants' organizations to
develop alternative forest management practices, with would mean more benefits to local people and local
development, and at the same time the respect of natural rhythms, biodiversity and natural conditions of these
rich forests. They have also been denouncing and putting pressures to curb the prevailing forest management
practices in the region.

By: Javier Baltodano, COECOCEIBA, 20/11/99; e-mail:


- Bolivia: the government legalises what is illegal

Bolivian social organizations, trade unions, IPOs and environmental NGOs have strongly condemned and taken
actions to face a recent governmental decree, which in fact guarantees the activities of illegal logging performed
by depredatory companies to the detriment of the country's forests and their people.

Decree 25561 issued on October 27th legalises the wood illegally cut in communal lands belonging to indigenous
peoples and in protected areas. This step is in blatant contradiction with the Forestry Law, whose objective is to
achieve sustainable use of forests, their protection and the harmonisation of social, economic and ecological
interests to the benefit of the country. The Law states very clearly that the use and trade of forest resources
without previous permission obtained from the authority in charge is to be considered a crime.

However, the new decree authorizes the Forestry Department to tax the illegally cut wood, which thereafter
becomes "legal". As a result, illegal logging will receive the same treatment as logging carried out in a legal
manner, whereby the government itself can be seen as promoting illegal activities. The only logical explanation
-though there may be others less so- seems to be that the government is accepting its inability to prevent illegal
logging and that its only "solution" is to tax crime. If such is the case, then this is -for the forests and its people-
the worse possible option.

Fuente: Foro Boliviano sobre            Medio     Ambiente     y   Desarrollo    (FOBOMADE),        18/11/99;    email:

- Brazil: say what they say, Monte Pascoal belongs to the Pataxó

Nearly fifty years after their traditional lands were taken over and much of their population decimated by military
forces, the Pataxó indigenous people decided to recover them and took over Monte Pascoal National Park last
August (see WRM Bulletin 28).

The Pataxó are now threatened by eviction, after a local judge ruled on 17 November that the National Park must
be returned to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). No date has yet
been established for the eviction, but the Pataxó have vowed to resist it and disseminated a statement to the
Brazilian people and authorities, declaring that Monte Pascoal is their sacred territory and that they "won't accept
any decision, negotiation or proposal which implies their withdrawal from the area." They demand the return of the
Working Group which was carrying out the studies for the demarcation of the Pataxó's territory and whose
activities were suddenly stopped at the beginning of November. At the same time, they express their concern over
a possible violent eviction and call on the government "to guarantee the personal safety of our families."

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                           DECEMBER      1999

The judicial decision is yet another proof -nearing the celebration of the 500 years of the "discovery" of Brazil- that
the Brazilian government continues disregarding the right of the indigenous peoples to return to their traditional
territories. If the judicial decision is enforced, the government of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso will be
ratifying the 1951 massacre of the Pataxó, which paved the way for the creation of the Monte Pascoal National
Park. Many indigenous people were then murdered and the rest were forced to escape to save their lives. Since
then, the survivors were forced to live in humiliation and misery.

History seems to repeat itself. As in the past, the Pataxó have all the rights, while the current government -as the
Portuguese 500 years ago- has the power. As the Pataxó say, the collective memory of our people and the
historical documents prove the justice of our struggle to recover Monte Pascoal." Whatever the "legal" system
says to justify the unjustifiable, Monte Pascoal belongs to the Pataxó.

Source: CIMI, 2/12/99, e-mail:

- Brazil: will forest destruction be sponsored by the law?

As everybody knows, Brazil is one of the richests countries in the world regarding forests. Additionally to the
Amazon, whose major area is located in the Brazilian territory, there are in Brazil other valuable forest
ecosystems, such as the mata atlantica and the cerrado, or ecosystems with an important presence of trees, as
the pantanal and the caatinga. In spite of that, as everybody also knows, forest biodiversity in that country is
seriously menaced by a seemingly uncontrollable process of plundering and destruction.

In several international fora on environment and development, the Brazilian authorities have tried to appear as
championing the cause of Southern countries. Nevertheless, its position regarding domestic issues is completely
different. Last November 23 the government presented to the National Congress a Forestry Act bill which, if
passed, would further increase the already serious process of deforestation and forest degradation which affects
the country. The project was presented openly ignoring the authority of the Technical Committee of CONAMA
(National Environmental Council), which had been specifically created to review the 1965 Forestry Act, and which
aimed at making democratic participation of all stakeholders possible. The government has instead opted to take
the shortcut and has made an agreement with the powerful National Agricultural Council (Consejo Nacional de
Agricultura) which represents the big landowners.

Among the changes introduced by the new project, the following can be highlighted: agricultural plots of less than
20 hectares are not obliged to maintain a forest reserve area, which means the future death of the scanty remains
of the mata atlantica forest, most of which are distributed in less than 20-hectare patches; eucalyptus and pine
plantations in small plots in the Amazon and the Pantanal regions are considered "forest reserves"; woodlands
can be converted to agriculture without previous permission of the environmental authority. Those changes are
not only detrimental to the forest heritage of the country, but also strengthen the already hegemonic lobby of big
landowners, whose actions are linked to the worse of Brazil's political, social and environmental history. The
murder of Chico Mendes, whose anniversary is remembered once again this December, is perhaps the most
well-known, though not the unique, example. Unfortunately, the Brazilian government seems more interested in
counting on the support of the National Agricultural Council -formed by a few but very powerful people- than in
protecting the country's ecosystems and its people.

The project has been halted in Parliament as a result of the rapid action of environmental NGOs and to the
position adopted by the opposition party. Nevertheless, it is feared that the Forestry Act bill can be passed in the
near future. If you want to collaborate to avoid that, you are invited to visit:

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

where you can endorse a letter addresed to the president of Brazil, the Minister of the Environment and
representatives of Brazilian political parties in parliament.

Source: Sandra Tosta Faillace, 29/11/99; e-mail:
- Colombia: the U'wa people do not surrender

In a new chapter of their seemingly endless struggle to defend their land rights, a group of two hundred U'wa
indigenous people -including women, children and tribal elders- established on November 14 a permanent
settlement at the site of Occidental Petroleum's planned oil well Gibraltar 1. Their aim is to block the drilling
planned to begin operating in the near future, thus avoiding that their Mother Earth be profaned. Hundreds of
more U'wa and other supporters are expected to continue arriving to the settlement in upcoming days to reinforce
this action. Tribal leaders consider that this permanent settlement is a necessary action to block the drilling after
legal battles and direct appeals to the company and the government have failed to date.

On November 16th, the Second U'wa Audience for Life was held in Bogota, attended by a large number of U'wa
and more than 100 delegates of national and international organizations of indigenous peoples,
environmentalists, black communities and social groups who support them. On the following day, a large
demonstration which began at the National University of Colombia and went to the headquarters of the Ministry
of the Environment took place, where the representatives of the U´wa demanded once again President Andres
Pastrana and the Minister of the Environment, Juan Mayr, the immediate cancellation of oil exploration in the
Samore area. Until now, the authorities have turned a deaf ear to the U'wa's demand. After countless meetings
with the environmental authorities to discuss this problem, the U'wa have now refused to participate in the so
called Environmental Alliance for Colombia, to which the government is summoning. “It is not more than the
government's farce to obtain resources under the name of the environmental emergencies of the country, while its
actions show contempt or violent solutions to the environmental conflicts” states a declaration of the U'wa

Sources: Patrick Reinsborough, RAN, 19/11/99, e-mail:; Censat Agua Viva, 23/11/99, e-mail:

- Colombia: the Embera Katio's struggle for life

The Urra hydroelectric dam megaproject on the Sinu River, at the Cordoba Department in the Atlantic region of
Colombia has provoked concern and resistance since its very start in 1977. The Embera Katio indigenous people,
ancestral dwellers of the affected area, who live on fishing and hunting, and whose livelihoods and existence are
severely menaced by this project are fighting an unequal battle against both the company Urra and the Colombian
government which openly supports it. More than 7,000 hectares of forests will be flooded by the dam reservoir of
the projected dam, whose total cost will reach the sum of U$S 800 million.

In spite of the conclusions of two decisions of the Constitutional High Court of Colombia, the filling up of URRA 1
dam on the Sinu River began last 20 November, following Resolution 0965 of the Ministry of the Environment.

This situation constitutes both an environmental catastrophe and a genocide. Downstream from the dam, the river
level has already decreased dramatically, resulting in the collapse of the river's banks and the entailing
destruction of the peoples' houses. The most valuable fish for the Embera's diet -a species called "bocachico"- is
massively dying in the suddenly drying wetlands. At the same time, the Embera Katio indigenous peoples living
upstream are powerless to prevent the flooding of their fields, sacred sites, cemeteries and houses, with the
consequent destruction of their traditional culture.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                        DECEMBER      1999

The violation of the indigenous peoples' environmental rights is accompanied by that of their and their supporters'
human rights. Many of such violations have ocurred since the starting of project in 1977. Most of the more
prominent opponents of the project -Embera Katio leaders, fishermen representatives, scientists and
intellectuals, advisers of the indigenous people- have been either murdered, threatened or forced into exile.
Almost two hundred Embera Katio have begun a 700-kilometer march on foot to Bogota from the Alto Sinu area
to demand the immediate suspension of the dam works and to protest against the permanent insecurity and
violence that menaces them. Another group of 40 Embera Katio families, composed by some 200 women, men
and children, moved to an area facing imminent flooding by the Urra 1 hydroelectric dam and began settling in for
a long-term occupation to accompany the 20 families who have been traditionally living in the site. Another 50
families are expected to join them. The Embera Katio are also asking supporters from outside their community to
participate in the occupation.

The Embera Katio indigenous peoples, together with the communities of fisherfolk and farmers living in the Sinu
River basin are asking for solidarity and request supporters to publicly denounce these facts to the Colombian
authorities, urging them to immediately stop the works in accordance with the two relevant decisions of the
Constitutional Court, and to undertake the necessary steps to effectively protect biodiversity and indigenous
peoples' rights in Colombia.

You can send your messages to:

President Andres Pastrana
Casa Presidencial
Bogota, Colombia
fax : 0057 1 334 19 40
e mail:

Environment Minister Juan Mayr
fax : 0057 1 2889892
or : 0057 1 2889788
e mail : Jmayr@Minamb.Gov.Co

Source: Global Response, 29/11/99 and 9/12/99; e-mail:

- Chile: under the shadow of Pinochet

The "success" of the Chilean forestry model -based on pine and eucalyptus monocultures- was based on a
combination of the appropriation of the Mapuche indigenous people's lands and ruthless repression. Now, when
the old dictator is under arrest in England, his shadow is still present in the democratically-elected government,
which seems unable -or unwilling- to repair the injustices committed during the dictatorship years.

The Mapuche have been forced to fight for their rights, mostly against the forestry companies which received from
Pinochet -for peanuts- the land which righteously belonged to the indigenous communities. Those lands were
planted with tree monocultures and the Chilean forestry model was then exported as a success story throughout
the region. But now the model is being challenged as unsustainable, both from a social and an environmental
point of view. In such scenario, the Mapuche have become the major actors in the struggle against the model.

"A Forestal Mininco estate has been occupied by the Mapuche." "Forestal Bosques Arauco's plantation taken
over by Mapuche." Such are the almost daily headlines in Chilean newspapers. The tactic adopted by the

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

Mapuche is to occupy estates during the day and to abandon them at night, only to return on the following
morning to that or to another estate within their territory. In some cases, they have implemented what they call
"productive occupation", which implies the cutting of the trees and the sowing of potatoes. Repression has
followed, as in the -good?- old days of Pinochet.

President Eduardo Frei himself showed a certain similarity with his former predecesor Pinochet, when the leader
of the Council of all the Lands -Aucan Huilcaman- was arrested for trying to deliver a letter to the President during
his visit to the city of Valdivia in Southern Chile. The incident occurred after the police prevented the entry of a
delegation of representatives of Mapuche communities involved in the occupation of estates to a public meeting
headed by President Frei. The letter simply requested a commitment from the President to take into account the
demands for land of indigenous families in Southern Chile. As Aucan Huilcaman said later, "this is institutionalized
discrimination, where people are prevented to participate at a public meeting only because of being Mapuche."
He then added: "the process to recover the land will continue in spite of all the actions aimed at frightening us."

Source: Equipo Nizkor, 14 December 1999. email:

- Ecuador: the future of the Chachi indigenous people and their forests

Mache-Chindul rainforests and mangroves, located in the Province of Esmeraldas in the Ecuadorian Pacific
region hold high levels of biodiversity. Additionally, this province is a multicultural complex formed by different
ethnic groups -indigenous, black and "mestizos", as the Chachi, the Emperas, the Awa, Afro-Esmeraldian
population and landless peasants who arrived there as colonists expelled from other regions of the country. For
about three decades the province has been suffering a deforestation and forest degradation process: in 1958
there were 2,750,000 hectares of forests and nowadays only 500,000 remain, having the rest been transformed
into agricultural or pasture lands.

The forests of Mache-Chindul are part of these relicts, most of which are located in the indigenous Chachi
territory, occupying an area of some 18,000 hectares. The communities of San Salvador, Balzar and Chorrera
Grande, together with more than 30 scattered colonists' settlements live there. When the first Chachi families
arrived there, in the decade of 1930, the area was completely void. Until the end of the 60s the Chachi lived in
relative isolation, using the rivers for transportation, and developing sustainable production practices based on
shifting agriculture, hunting, fishing, handicraft production and the gathering of products from the forest.

A colonization process started in the decade of 1970, being its agents the poor peasants displaced from their
original lands. Later on, the situation increasingly worsened because of the expansion of banana cultivation,
logging and further land invasions. The ensuing confrontation over land was very violent and on June 22 1988 the
Chachi Lorenzo Anapa was murdered. As time went by the situation became more and more serious. On August
7 this year another murder occurred: that of a Chachi youth -Norberto Anapa de la Cruz- from the community of
San Salvador to the hands of still unidentified colonists which had invaded the indigenous territory. Additionally, it
has been denounced that displaced peasants from the neighbouring Province of Manabi are harassing members
of the Chachi communities by destroying their crops, stealing their cattle and even assaulting them in the roads of
the area.

This situation of every day violence that the Chachi are undergoing is not just the sum of isolated events. From
the beginning of the present decade they are suffering an aculturization process caused by their forced integration
into the commercial circuit, which has led them to increase use pressure on their forests. At the same time, the
continuous advance of land invasion and colonization has undermined their material basis of existence and
weakened their traditional way of life.

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

In Ecuador successive governments have completely disregarded the protection of the environment and natural
resources as well as the safeguard of indigenous peoples. The Chachi have also been abandoned to their fate.
Direct and indirect causes that give way by this state of affairs are not addressed and no steps are taken to halt
the violence that the Chachi have been suffering for years. Only initiatives from civil society have been
undertaken in order to make coexistence possible between colonists and indigenous peoples -both victims of the
present situation- in a framework of sustainability. Nevertheless, such efforts are not enough and will not work if
the authorities continue to ignore the problem.

To express your solidarity with the struggle of the Chachi people you can address the following Ecuadorian
authorities, asking them to put an end to the present situation and to investigate the recent murder:

Crnl. E.M.
Juan Anibal Avila Hidalgo
Esmeraldas, Ecuador
Fax: (593 6) 720 758 o 727 371

Wladimir Alvarez
Ministro de Gobierno
Republica del Ecuador
Fax: (593 2) 580 067

Sources: Domingo Paredes, 26/11/99 y 12/12/99, e-mail:


- Papua New Guinea: the struggle of the Maisin indigenous people

Papua New Guinea still contains one of the major tropical rainforests in the world, hosting high levels of
biodiversity. Together with the government's policy regarding forests -which considers them as a mere source of
roundwood to be exported- and its collusion with powerful forestry companies (see WRM Bulletin 22), the
activities of foreign logging companies constitute a threat to these rich ecosystems and to the people that inhabit

Since forests are home of millions of indigenous peoples, it is usually them who face the intruders which, in the
name of "development" and generally with the explicit or implicit support of the authorities, try to take over their
land and resources. After the clearcut of the forest, monoculture tree plantations are often established. This is
also the case in Papua New Guinea.

The Maisin indigenous people are now fighting for a rainforest located inland from the coast of a Pacific Ocean
island in the eastern region of the Papua New Guinean archipelago. The Maisin have traditionally cleared patches
of forest for their crops and hunted wild animals to get their protein supply within the forest canopy. From the
forests they also obtain building materials, medicines, and fresh water. "The forest is our livelihood. It's also our
inheritance that our Maisin landowner forefathers have passed on to us," says John Wesley Vaso, a Maisin
landowner. Their opponent is a big Malaysian company which claims having a valid lease and permits to clearcut
the forest in the area, and immediately after establish an oil palm plantation. The company says that the new

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                             DECEMBER      1999

activity will mean the creation of many jobs for both logging activities and the planting and maintenance of the oil
palm crop.

However, the forest dwellers do not believe in these false promises of economic development and welfare. They
prefer to keep their forest standing and their small scale economy, based on traditional agriculture and hunting,
and the selling of betel nuts, while at the same time not losing control over their land and livelihoods. Additionally,
Malaysian logging companies are well known for their negative performance regarding forest resources and
indigenous peoples that inhabit them, not only in their own country -which is the world's largest tropical timber
producer- but also abroad. Their depredatory activities in the Brazilian Amazon is perhaps the clearest example of

Since under the country's constitution indigenous peoples are legal owners of their traditional lands, the Maisin
have started a legal action against the company. They filed a lawsuit that has worked its way up to Papua New
Guinea's highest court, and managed to stop until now the company's activities. Even if the final outcome of their
lawsuit could be months away and new difficulties will appear since they have almost exhausted the financial
resources they raised to pay for the legal process, their successful action has been considered an example that in
the future can be followed by other indigenous peoples affected by this kind of abuses against their environmental
and human rights.

Source: Glenn R. Barry, 26/11/99, e-mail: World Rainforest Movement &
Forest Monitor, High Stakes. The need to control transnational logging companies: a Malaysian case study,
August 1998.

                                             PLANTATIONS CAMPAIGN

- Plantations' impacts are always social

Impacts of tree monocultures are usually analysed under two broad headings: environmental and social. The
former involves impacts on water, soil, biodiversity and landscape, while the latter includes social and economic
impacts. Though useful as an analytical tool, such division can however hide the fact that all impacts are -in the
short or in the long run- social, since it is local people who live nearby plantations or who are displaced by them
who suffer the consequences.

When tree monocultures cause a deficit in the hydrological cycle this is not just a negative figure in the water
balance, which naturally will affect natural attributes of the ecosystem, but a shortage in the water supply for local
people, for whom it is an essential resource for drinking, agriculture, cattle raising, fishing. When the soil is eroded
or its fertility levels decrease under plantations, it means that the future alternative use of the land is under threat.
When the populations of plant and animal species are altered in their number and composition it is not just
something to be registered in a species census. It means that gathering and hunting to provide food and other
needs for local people will diminish or even that important imbalances can occur, giving rise to pest outbreaks that
will affect local peoples' crops and animals.

The above and other aspects related to impacts of and resistance to plantations were addressed in a presentation
made recently by WRM's International Coordinator in Ecuador at a seminar held in the framework of the Friends
of the Earth General Assembly. The complete presentation will be soon available in our web site at:

- Aracruz: the naked emperor

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

Because of Aracruz Celulose's move to apply for FSC certification for its eucalyptus plantations in the state of
Bahia -avoiding at the same time the polemic issue of the dispossesion of Guarani and Tupinikim's lands as a
consequence of the company's plantations in the neighbouring state of Espirito Santo- a large number of
concerned organizations and individuals held a seminar last October in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, to analyse this
menacing scenario. Given that the certifying firm SCS had not complied with a number of FSC's requirements for
participation and consultation, on October 22 they addressed a letter to the questioning the partial certification
process and requesting the postponement of the consultation meetings (see WRM Bulletin 28).

The postponement of the firm's planned field audit during the first weeks of November shows that once again the
certification process has been delayed, which seems to show that civil society pressure has been successful at
least until now. Nevertheless, the fact that SCS has not given any answer to the letter is generating unrest. It
remains unclear who decided to delay the process, what is the opinion of FSC-Brasil about the situation, and what
is to be expected in the near future.

Resistance to Aracruz's activities continues. In Bahia, where the company wants the FSC-certification, various
organizations are already registering in photos, videos, and interviews a number impacts of its activities. Various
impacts caused by Aracruz plantations in Espirito Santo have already been documented and more work is being
done in this regard. A new letter to SCS as well as to FSC-Brasil is also being prepared.

Within this framework, Aracruz continues trying to convince public opinion and authorities that its plantation
activities do not cause any negative environmental impacts. At the end of November the firm received the visit of
agronomist Almir Bressan of the Ministry of the Environment and biologist Pedro Burnier from the Ministry of
Agriculture in its 286 hectare "micro basin" experimental plot in Espirito Santo, where Aracruz is planning to
double the actual plantation area of 175,000 hectares within a period of ten years. There the company has
allegedly performed environmental impact assessments of eucalyptus monocultures on the hydrologic cycle and
their relationship with neighbouring ecosystems, as the disappearing mata atlantica forest. According to Aracruz,
the results of the hydrological balance control have shown that the hydrological deficit provoked by the eucalyptus
plantation is similar to that registered in the mata atlantica forest.

What Aracruz does not say, however, is that the "micro basin" plot was only established in 1994 -when eucalyptus
had been already planted on a massive scale in the region- thus disregarding that impacts on the local water
resources had already began to occur before the beginning of this watershed experiment. It also states that its
research has found very small differences between the water balance in eucalyptus plantations and that of
neighbouring native forests. It does not, however, provide the information and only gives some figures for the year
October 1995-October 1996. When information is specifically requested -as we did in 1997- the answer is that all
the information is available ... at IBAMA in Brasilia! Aspects related to the scale of the project are not taken on
board, since what has been allegedly proven for a small area can be totally inapplicable for 350,000 hectares,
which is the total area that the company is planning to occupy with eucalyptus monocultures in the next ten years.
Last but not least, it is important to remember that environmental impact assessments are never neutral. As a
token of the latter, it is interesting to point out that the above mentioned Mr Burnier -who will be one of the people
in charge of giving or denying the necessary permission for the extension of Aracruz's plantations in Espirito
Santo- was one of the company's Directors until some time ago.

In spite of all its "micro basin" studies and its hired academics, the fact is that "macro basin" realities show a
totally different picture. Anyone who visits the region accompanied by local people can see the numerous streams
that have dried up -where they used to bathe and fish- can see the equally dried up wells and that even a river
-the San Domingos- has stopped flowing. And that all this happened after Aracruz began planting eucalyptus.
Aracruz is obviously trying to hide reality under a scientific dressing. But in spite of all its efforts, the emperor
remains -as in the story- naked.

WRM      BULLETIN           # 29                                                            DECEMBER       1999

Sources: CIMI-Espirito Santo, 23/11/99; e-mail: "Aracruz defende eucalipto integrado a
Mata Atlantica", Berardo Hisas, Gazeta Mercantil, 22/11/99; The environmental and social effects of corporate
environmentalism      in    the     Brazilian    market      pulp industry,    Ricardo     Carrere,     1997
- Networking in action: Australia-Uruguay

Last November we received a message from the Tasmania based NGO Native Forest Network-Southern
Hemisphere (NFN), informing that the Australian giant North Ltd. was planning to invest in pulpwood plantations
in Uruguay.

Tim Cadman, spokesperson of NFN, warned that this company -responsible in its own country for the logging of
extensive areas of native eucalyptus forests- is absolutely ruthless and has scant regard for people's rights in the
face of profit. Additionally it regularly makes financial donations to Australia's major political parties, and wields an
enormous amount of influence in the state of Tasmania, where it has depredated primary eucalyptus forests and
rainforests to give place to pine plantations. Once forests are cut down and plantations are set up, North's
silvicultural management is completely unsustainable. Besides impacts on the geomorphology, as the collapse of
entire mountainsides adjacent to the company's plantations, silted and diverted rivers, the company uses high
volumes of herbicides and chemicals to control native wildlife and prepare the aseptic environment that seedlings
need. Such actions gave place in 1996 to a call by concerned Australian NGOs "not to buy, trade, sell or invest in
companies associated with the woodchipping of native forests."

As a result of Tim Cadman's message, we contacted the local press and on November 25 th an article was
published in a weekly magazine of widespread coverage in Uruguay, warning the country's public opinion about
this kind of initiatives, which the Uruguayan Forestry Law is still promoting. The article was published three days
before the presidential elections, which was considered very opportune since one of the candidates is keen to
deepen the present process of investments by multinational companies in the forestry sector. Additionally a copy
of the article was sent to Tim Cadman, who is now disseminating it in his home country.

Opposition to the tree monoculture plantation model at the local level is very important but it is also crucial that it
receives support at the international level, which implies information sharing and networking among concerned
NGOs and individuals in North and South. The case we have described, as well as, for example, the activities
performed by Scandinavian NGOs which are monitoring the activities of their countries' agencies and companies
abroad, are two good examples of coordinated action to oppose the model and to strengthen a resistance
network throughout the world.

Source: Tim Cadman, NFN, 24/11/99; e-mail: web:

- Call for global moratorium on genetically engineered trees

Multinational corporations, with support from some academic institutions and governments, are working hard to
create and grow genetically engineered trees. Such development is causing great concern among informed
sectors of the public, who reasonably fear that these artificially created organisms pose a threat to the
environment, and could cause irreparable imbalances in the world's forest ecosystems. Critical reports, protests
and even direct actions have been undertaken to curb this process (see WRM Bulletins 23 and 26).

A report recently launched in the UK by WWF reveals that a rapidly increasing number of genetically modified
(GM) trees are being planted without proper controls around the world. The WWF report -called "GM Technology

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER       1999

in the Forest Sector"- warns that commercial GM tree production could begin within the next two years, probably
in Chile, China, and Indonesia, funded principally by private capital from Northern nations. This might happen
despite inadequate regulations and inadequate research into the environmental impact of GM trees.

The study analyses the environmental and social impacts of GM trees, and concludes that the risk of genetic
pollution is high. Other threats to the environment include possible new super-weeds. There could also be
unintended impacts on non-target species when GM trees are engineered for pest resistance and herbicide
tolerance. In sum, the same questions on the same critical points that genetic engineering applied to food crops
has not been able to answer.

Field trials of GM tree species have expanded in different regions of the world. Countries with confirmed trials in
course are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand,
Portugal, Spain, UK, USA and Uruguay. In 1998, there were 44 new trials and, in the last three years, the number
of trial tree species doubled. Since that year there have been 116 confirmed GM tree trials in 17 countries, using
24 tree species, 75% percent out of which being timber-producing species. The situation is especially dangerous
in Southern countries, where there is often little or no regulation regarding the setting up of such trials. They are
often driven by the private sector, and notably by those multinationals that wish to invest in genetically modified
organisms (GMO) but are restricted by regulations in Northern countries.

As a result of the research, Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Head of WWF's Forests for Life Programme, stated that
"WWF is calling on governments worldwide to declare a global moratorium on the commercial release of GM
trees until enough research has been conducted and proper safeguards have been put in place." Apart from such
a moratorium, WWF calls for strengthened regulations for field tests, which examine the long term environmental
impacts of GM tree species, and a severe and robust Biosafety Protocol within the Convention on Biodiversity,
which is the most important international agreement on GMOs. WWF also demands the start of a comprehensive
programme of research on which credible decisions can be based, and the launch of an open public debate on
the future of GM technology.

Those interested in receiving further information on this initiative, please contact: Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Head of
Forests for Life Programme, WWF International, e-mail:

- Tree plantations and trade

Some of the conclusions and recommendations of the Latin American Workshop on the Impacts of an Eventual
Millenium Road of the WTO, held on 6 and 7 November in Quito, Ecuador, are strongly related to the problems
posed by the dominant tree plantation model.

The "need to change the current consumption patterns . . . which sustain the continuous growth of production" is
underscored. In fact, the increasing demand for paper and paperboard in the North and by the privileged elites of
the South is one of the direct causes of the expansion of tree monocultures to produce fibre. Under the heading
"Education and Information for the Consumer" the workshop mentions the importance of keeping the public
opinion informed "of the social and environmental impact of the substitution of forests by plantations of
monocultures." There is ample evidence, especially in tropical countries, that plantations do not serve to mitigate
the pressure on forests but, on the contrary, are one of the causes of their destruction. Large expanses of forests
have been cleared to give place to eucalyptus, pine, oil palm or melina monocultures. While local communities
and indigenous people who live there know that and suffer the consequences, the problem is more difficult to be
perceived by urban populations, so education and information play a very important role to raise awarness on this

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                          DECEMBER      1999

Raising awareness and taking action to face the development of genetically modified organisms is another among
the recommendations published in this document and related to the tree monoculture model. In this sense,
research in course by joint-ventures formed by plantation and genetic engineering companies to obtain
"super-trees" show a worrying trend which needs to be addressed. The complete document is available in our
web page under:
- Indigenous Peoples' Seattle Declaration

The Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus, convened and sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network
USA/CANADA, Seventh Generation Fund USA, International Indian Treaty Council, Indigenous Peoples Council
on Biocolonialism, the Abya Yala Fund, and TEBTEBBA (Indigenous Peoples’ Network for Policy Research and
Education), issued a statement on 1 December 1999 in Seattle, on the occasion of the Third Ministerial Meeting
of the World Trade Organization.

In their "Seattle Declarations", they begin stating that "We, the Indigenous Peoples from various regions of the
world, have come to Seattle to express our great concern over how the World Trade Organization is destroying
Mother Earth and the cultural and biological diversity of which we are a part."

The complete text of the declaration is available in the WRM web site at:

- Dialogue with the World Bank?

The World Bank is currently undertaking its Forest Policy Implementation Review and Strategy Development
(FPIRS) and will carry out a number of consultation meetings throughout the world to feed this process. Within
this framework, it seems important that the Bank takes seriously on board recent events in India, when more than
300 Adivasis (indigenous people) from the Indian state of Madya Pradesh, representing all mass-based Adivasi
movements, jumped over the fence of the World Bank building on the 24th of November. They blocked the
building, covering it with posters, grafitti, cow shit and mud, sang slogans and traditional songs at the gate, and
went back only after Mr. Lim, country director of the World Bank in India, went out to receive an open letter signed
by all their movements.

The letter (available in WRM's web site at )
denounces the destructive impact of World Bank investments in forestry and of the liberalisation in timber
products enshrined in the WTO system, which range from the commodification and destruction of the forests to
increasing violence, rape and assassinations.

But what we believe the Bank should begin to reflect upon before the upcoming FPIRS consultation meetings is
that during the protest in Delhi, the attempts of the country director of the World Bank to deliver a speech were
refused by the Adivasis, who said that after talking with World Bank officials for the last 5 years they had
concluded that such 'dialogues' had the only objective of betraying, misleading and deceiving the Adivasis while
pushing through commercial and industrial interests. Food for thought.

- Declaration on Andean Ecosystems

The 4th National Conference and International Conference on "Paramos" (high plateau grassland ecosystems)
and Cloud Andean Forests, which took place in Malaga, Santander, Colombia on November 1999 -including

WRM      BULLETIN          # 29                                                         DECEMBER      1999

representatives from Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica- summarized its viewpoints in a declaration which is
available in Spanish in WRM's web site:

The declaration is a well balanced analysis of the situation being faced by people and the environment, where
many -including lower ranking government officials, academics, environmentalists, local peoples- support the
conservation of these vulnerable ecosystems, while a few -politicians, higher ranking officials and corporations-
only act in their own interest. As a result, a draft bill for the protection of the "paramo" ecosystem "has been
sleeping for more than a decade on the desks of the Colombian Ministry of the Environment." The declaration
ends with a call for action to protect these ecosystems and their people, including 16 specific demands.

Source: Censat Agua Viva, Bogota, Colombia. email:

                                          WRM GENERAL ACTIVITIES

News from the International Secretariat

Ricardo Carrere participated in a number of parallel events during the WTO ministerial conference in Seattle,
-seminars, press conference, interview in community radio programme, presentation of the underlying causes
initiative, etc. He disseminated a bilingual English-Spanish WRM statement to the WTO (available at ) and carried out networking activities with a large
number of NGO/IPO representatives present in Seattle.

Ricardo also participated a few days later in Ottawa at an NGO/IPO strategy meeting regarding future actions to
influence the forest agenda, including the fourth -and last- meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests to
be held in late January-early February in New York. He also attended a meeting of the Underlying Causes of
Deforestation Initiative.

We incorporated a new section on the WTO in the home page of our web site, including articles, briefings and
statements, as well as links to other relevant web pages.

The WRM International Secretariat addressed the Colombian government on November 24 th expressing its
support to the U'wa indigenous people in Colombia in relation to the recent permit granted by the Ministry of the
Environment to Occidental Petroleum for oil exploitation in their traditional lands. On December 3 rd we sent a fax
to the President of Honduras asking him that an important mangrove forest area be conserved. The WRM also
expressed to the Ecuadorian government its support to the Chachi indigenous people's struggle by means of a
fax dated December 12th.


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