World Rainforest Movement

No to the WWF New Generation Plantations Project!

On this International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, the Latin American Network Against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA), a network of Latin American organizations with the basic objective of coordinating activities to oppose the expansion of large-scale monoculture tree plantations on a regional level, with representatives from several Latin American countries, in conjunction with other social organizations and activists, is launching an open call for opposition to the so-called New Generation Plantations Project (NGPP)  promoted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an international conservation organization.

The call for opposition to the project states:

On its New Generation Plantations Project (NGPP) website, the WWF claims that “we need the commodities and services from tree plantations” and then proposes to “improve models of forestry that keep the commodities flowing, respect the rights of local communities (…) and contribute to protecting and restoring natural forests.” In order to achieve these goals, all that is supposedly needed is better plantation management.

But it is the current trade in commodities and, more broadly speaking, the current model of production and consumption that is at the root of the problems that humankind is currently suffering. And at no time does the WWF criticize this model or propose changing it. It wants to believe, or wants to make others believe, that the contradictions inherent to industrial tree plantations will somehow magically disappear: the concentration of land ownership, the evictions of local communities and exclusion of other productive activities, the exhaustion of water resources and soil.

The social and environmental impacts of plantations – which increase alongside the profits of the plantation corporations – are directly related to the industrial-scale monoculture “forestry model” to which the WWF refers. This is why these large corporations have always used every possible strategy to greenwash their activities. And the WWF’s NGPP perfectly fits the bill for this purpose. It would seem that the organization’s only concern is to maintain and expand the plantations’ current markets.

In addition, the NGPP is largely aimed at opening the doors to the carbon and energy markets for tree plantations, thus paving the way for even more fertile lands on which millions of people in Latin America depend for their survival to be occupied by big corporations.

The NGPP initiative involves a number of forestry sector corporations – CMPC/Forestal Mininco, Masisa, Fibria, Mondi, Portucel, Sabah Forest Industries, Stora Enso, Veracel, UPM-Kymmene – as well as the State Forest Administration of China, the Forestry Commission of Great Britain and the Forest Initiative of Sweden.

The project website showcases a series of examples of industrial tree plantations around the world that have contributed to “biodiversity conservation”. Of the nine case studies presented, five correspond to tree plantations in Latin America owned by UPM (case study in Uruguay), Veracel/Stora Enso and Fibria (two case studies in Brazil), Masisa (Argentina) and CMPC/Forestal Mininco (Chile). Each and every one of these companies has a record of denunciations aimed against them by local communities, which the WWF has obviously chosen to ignore.

These denunciations range from violations of the rights of indigenous and traditional communities to their territories and illegal land occupation to the destruction of valuable ecosystems and water sources and the replacement of farmland for raising food crops with tree plantations, among others.

We at RECOMA and the other undersigned organizations and activists denounce these types of manoeuvres as a means of serving the commercial interests of corporations that have no qualms about violating the rights of the local communities on which they impose their monoculture tree plantations. At the same time, we call on other social movements and organizations to join in our opposition to this WWF project.

We are issuing this statement as part of the actions to mark the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, and in memory of Ricardo Carrere, who during his life and work with WRM and RECOMA tirelessly supported and promoted the struggle against tree plantations and their negative impacts, demanding respect for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples over their territories.

September 21, 2011