World Rainforest Movement

Ecuador: Public outcry demanding revision of the Agrarian and Forestry Plan

Through various programmes and state incentives, under the auspices of international cooperation agencies, monoculture tree plantations of fast growing species have been established in the three continental regions of Ecuador and are rapidly becoming widespread, generally destroying primary ecosystems.

Whether it is the plantations for carbon sinks in the Paramo area, the pine plantations in the Central Sierra, or the eucalyptus and oil palm plantations in the tropical zone of the Province of Esmeraldas in the Choco region, they all develop along the same lines: large-scale monocultures for the great export market and for the benefit of agro-business. Local economies, community ways of life and cultures, their food sovereignty, water, soil, and the future, are all abandoned on the way.

Facing this situation, many of the affected communities met last month and submitted the following:

“Open letter to President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadorian People on the National Forestation Plan and the National Agrarian Plan

Indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant organisations meeting in the city of Quito on 24 May 2007 to analyse the national forestation and agrarian plans wish to convey our concern to President Rafael Correa.

We are aware that it is your government’s priority to work in benefit of traditionally excluded peoples such as the indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant peoples of this country. We have placed our hopes on your government plans, because in the past State policies traditionally benefited large landowners, large farmers and agro-exporters, to the detriment of peasant economies and they continue to do so.

However, we have seen that the programme of the present Minister of Agriculture follows the same line as before: the country continues to belong to a handful of people. This programme benefits agro-business, promotes monoculture tree plantations and attempts to strengthen the technological package damaging natural resources, the soil, the water, biodiversity and increasing inequality in rural areas and peasant impoverishment processes. The production of monoculture crops for biofuels is promoted, disregarding the demands for food sovereignty and defence of the collective rights of Nationalities and Peoples.

Furthermore, the aim is an anti-ecological forestation with monoculture plantations lacking prior studies of the impacts on peasant and rural ways of life, but using an approach that considers monoculture tree plantations for industry and export as the only strategy.

Ecuadorian rural, peasant, Afro-descendent and indigenous organizations present at this meeting – the fundamental subjects of State policies – demand that Mr. Correa’s National Government insists on coherence from the Minister of Agriculture with the proposal for recasting Ecuador to the benefit of the poorest people in the country.

Ecuadorian rural, peasant and indigenous organizations present at the Meeting, demand:

1. Overall Agrarian Reform, controlling and eliminating concentration of land and enabling small farmers to access productive resources with justice.

2. Protection and promotion of national agro-food production, favouring sustainable productive programmes, co-managed by the country’s rural organizations.

3. Defence of biodiversity, plant resources and ancestral knowledge, and prevention of the promotion of monoculture plantations involving agriculture and trees that affect them, and prevention of the introduction of transgenic seeds and aggressive technological packages.

4. Inclusive policies for the farm sector, respecting the diversity of peoples, nationalities and peasants, and the promotion of intercultural relations, and acknowledgement of the contribution of women to sovereign productive processes.

5. That all agrarian and forestation policies should be prepared with the participation of peasant, indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian organizations, respecting their own ways of managing and guaranteeing their control over the natural resources within their territories.

6. Guaranteeing local and national food sovereignty, enabling resources such as land and water to be used to satisfy the population’s food needs over any other extractive activity (mining, oil or timber) and that water be used for human consumption and not for hydroelectric dams.

7. State resources must be used to guarantee fulfilment of the above demands and not to promote agro-business. Mechanisms of indebtedness fostering unjust marketing of land should not be promoted.

We appeal to you, Mr. President so that this 24 May, day on which we celebrate the independence of Ecuador, can also be the day on which the peasant, indigenous and Afro-descendent organizations celebrate the end of the long neo-liberal night.

(Signatures follow below)”.

Information sent by: Acción Ecológica, email: cbosques@accionecologica.org