World Rainforest Movement

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 25th 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;