World Rainforest Movement

The need to join forces

Our last bulletin was entirely dedicated to the Plantations Campaign, where we gave a broad overview of the problem and the major actors involved, complemented with a number of suggestions for action at different levels. Since then we have received numerous replies and requests for information from all over the world, showing that plantations are a widespread problem in a large number of countries.

We now wish to focus on what we consider to be the central aspect of the campaign: local opposition to plantations. As a result of its social and environmental impacts, this forestry model tends to generate a broad spectrum of opposition. Local communities are generally at the forefront, because their livelihoods are directly affected by plantations. In many cases they suffer dispossession of their lands and forests, which are converted to tree monocultures under the property of large corporations. This implies the loss of most of the resources they depend on, including agricultural and grazing land for growing their crops and raising cattle as well as the resources provided by forests, including bushmeat, fish, fruit, mushrooms, honey, firewood, building materials, medicines and a whole range of other products and services At the same time, they face the possibility of losing their cultural identity and even to be scattered by forced migration. For them, the implementation of plantations can quickly become a tragedy.

Local communities are not however alone in their struggle against this forestry model. In different countries, people with a number of diverse concerns join the ranks of the opposition. Environmentalists and academics become increasingly worried over the loss of biodiversity resulting from the substitution of native ecosystems by plantations. Downstream agriculturalists and cattle-growers suffer from the depletion of water resources. Urban people may be affected by the lack of drinking water or electricity resulting from plantation related water scarcity. Human rights activists and lawyers become involved as a result of the abuses which frequently occur in plantation development. Trade unionists join in to defend the rights of forest workers facing the harsh and dangerous working conditions prevailing in the plantation areas.

The diverse social realities in different countries generate equally diverse opposition networks and types of actions. Within such diversity, what can be generalized is the need to bring those actors together to strengthen opposition against the model. The same is applicable at the international level, where local opposition can both feed global campaigns and benefit from them. We therefore invite everyone involved in the issue at the local level to join the Plantations Campaign and to share your information and experiences in halting this destructive forestry model.