World Rainforest Movement

Hawaii: plantations stopped before starting

In August 1997 we received bad news from Hawaii: Oji Paper/Marubeni -Japan’s largest paper supplier- was about to receive a lease for 4,150 hectares of public land at Hamakua County to set up eucalyptus pulpwood plantations. Oji/Marubeni was also seeking some10,000 hectares of private land leases on the Big Island and elsewhere to produce eucalyptus for chips that would be later exported to Japan for paper production.

The local NGO Friends of Hamakua strongly opposed the project and together with farmers and community organizations formulated an alternative land-use, based on cooperative agriculture for the ex-sugar cane lands coveted by Oji. Local dwellers had already suffered the consequences of the environmentally negative practices of Prudential Insurance-Hamakua timber, another plantation company that had sprayed herbicides and burned large field areas in Hamakua.

As a result of their struggle, that included getting international support, local authorities finally rejected the plantation proposal. This can be considered the best possible type of success, since in this case the development of tree monocultures was stopped even before it started.