World Rainforest Movement

Displacement: The end result of “development”

The forest issue was also present at one of the conferences of the World Social Forum, under the broader issue of “Development Induced Displacement. Perspectives and Strategies.” (1)

All speakers stressed the relationship between so-called development and displacement -forced and “voluntary”- of local people affected by “development” projects. Logging, dams, plantations, mining, protected areas, tourism, had a common result: the appropriation of local communities’ lands and resources and the displacement of millions of people affected by those projects.

It was also made clear that the problems presented were not unique, but that repeated themselves in most -if not all- countries of the South. Dams are destroying forests and peoples livelihoods in countries ranging from India to Brazil; logging had the same result in Africa as in Latin America and Asia; mining was as damaging in South Africa as in the Philippines. The countries mentioned were thus “cases” in a wide sea of destruction throughout the South.

Within the many cases presented, it seems relevant to highlight that of the less well-known impacts of tourism on coastal forests and fishing resources. One of the speakers (Hare Krishna Devnath, leader of the Fishworkers Movement), began by saying that “mountains, seas and forests attract people” and that they “are given to tourism to satisfy the pleasure of those who have the money and the leisure to enjoy them.” To enable that to happen, “fisherpeople are evicted from those places.” Particularly during the last two decades in “countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India, tourism has displaced thousands and thousands of fishermen from their forest, and land has been given to the big industry.” Given that tourism has become a global industry, this type of “development” constitutes a major threat to numerous communities throughout the world.

So-called development was thus shown to mean improvement for a few and detrimental to the majority. In the case of forests it means the displacement of those who inhabit them for the benefit of the companies that destroy them.

So-called conservation was also shown to create serious problems to forest communities -including forced eviction- while not addressing the true causes of deforestation, rooted in the prevailing development model.

Within this context, it was important to provide ideas for moving forward in challenging both the prevailing development model and its anti-people “solution” to conservation.

The Mumbai Forest Initiative was thus officially launched at this conference, as a symbolic way of stressing the social aspect of deforestation and forest conservation as well as highlighting the fact that it was born within the context of a World Social Forum.

(1) Organized by: National Alliance of People’s Movements, India; Brazilian Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB), Brazil; Anti Privatization Forum, South Africa; Focus on the Global South , Philippines; Lokayan, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers; Mines, Minerals and People; Narmada Bachao Andolan; Delhi Forum, India and the World Rainforest Movement. Panelists: Smithu Kothari from Lokayan, Programme Director of Seeds of Hope and Tribal Self Rule; Trevor Nwane, Anti Privatization Forum, South Africa; Indu Netam, Mines, Minerals and People, India; José Josevaldo de Oliveira, Brazilian Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB), Brazil; Hare Krishna Devnath, leader of the Fishworkers Movement; Ricardo Carrere, World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay; Ashok Choudari, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, India; Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South, Philippines; and Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, India.