World Rainforest Movement

WRM meets with FAO in Rome to present a foresters’ statement questioning the definition of monoculture tree plantations as forests

Press Release – 

Rome, 22 September 2008. Representing the World Rainforest Movement, Raquel Núñez met today in Rome with FAO forestry officials to raise the issue of the problems resulting from the definition of forests by that UN agency that includes all types of plantations as “forests.”

One of the main aims of this meeting was to present to the FAO a Statement signed by more that 100 forestry professionals and students from 29 different countries, who strongly disagree with the FAO definition and declare that “monoculture tree plantations are not forests”.

The signatories of the statement stress that large-scale monoculture tree plantations have resulted in “serious social and environmental impacts” in spite of which “the promoters of this model claim that plantations are forests, which simply is not true.” They add: “This is why we feel the need to publicly state not only that monoculture tree plantations are not forests, but also that these plantations result or have resulted in the destruction of our native forests and of other equally valuable ecosystems that they replace.”

“I hope that the foresters’ statement will be a first step for making the FAO aware about the mounting opposition against their definition of forests” said Raquel Nuñez after the meeting. She added that “the FAO officials expressed their concerns about certain types of tree plantations -that they recognized as having negative impacts- but for the moment the organisation is unwilling to change the definition under the argument that this would be a distraction to the FAO-led process of guidelines for improving plantations.”

According to the foresters’ statements presented to FAO, the impacts of monoculture tree plantations include loss of biodiversity, changes in the water cycle, decreased food production, soil degradation, loss of indigenous and traditional cultures, conflicts with forestry companies, decreased sources of employment, expulsion of rural populations and destruction of the natural landscape in tourism areas.

“Regardless of whether all or some of those impacts can be mitigated through the establishment of guidelines –which I much doubt- the FAO still misses the importance of having a misleading definition that includes industrial tree plantations as forests.”

said Ms Núñez. “If the FAO really wants to improve bad plantations it should start by revising a definition that validates large scale tree plantations and disempowers local communities struggling against them.”

Contrary to the position expressed by the FAO officials, a growing number of people throughout the world agrees with the foresters’ statement which emphasises that “For reasons like these, we forestry professionals who strive for the conservation of forests and recognise the basic rights of the peoples who live there must take the side of those who truly defend the forests – the local communities – and oppose the expansion of monoculture plantations.”

The full statement is available at:

For further information please contact:

WRM International Secretariat

Phone: + 598 2 413 2989