By Gustavo Castro Soto
RECOMA integrates a global and structural vision of the problems of plantations. RECOMA is positioned against monocultures as carbon sinks and their incorporation as a solution to the climate change, since they release more CO2 and cannot replace biodiversity. Plantations are not forests.
At the RECOMA meeting held from July 31 to August 2 in Uruguay, they reflected on the law for plantation investors and the campaign against soy monocultures and the use of the REDD mechanism in Argentina. In Chile, the forestry model is expanding alarmingly with larger plantations reaching 2.5 million hectares of pine and eucalyptus with large government subsidies, and 98% of forest production is destined for the international market. As in Uruguay, the government subsidy to plantations has facilitated its expansion with 1.5 million hectares where more than 50% is in the hands of few foreign multinationals and with the use of FSC certification. In Brazil, the forestry law has facilitated the expansion of plantations. More than 5.5 million hectares have been afforested and incorporated into agribusiness. The issue of transgenic trees, the incorporation of plantations into the carbon market, among other aspects that maintain strong social resistance and land conflicts, are of concern in Brazil.
In the case of Paraguay, 14 thousand hectares have been incorporated for plantations and 3 million hectares for soybeans. As in other countries with large government subsidies and the use of the REDD mechanism. In the case of Peru, the jungle regions are being displaced by palm plantations. In Colombia there are more than 180 thousand hectares of palm, but much more are calculated, with support and large subsidies from the government, with pilot REDD projects and at least 12 plantations justified as Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM). In the case of Mexico, the government has promoted with large subsidies the African palm plantations, especially in Chiapas, the objective of which is to reach 100,000 hectares of a calculated vocation of one million hectares. In Ecuador, the boom in plantations on the paramos has had devastating consequences and the pressure on forests increases with the push for agrofuels. In Costa Rica, palm plantations have spread to the south of the country in addition to the more than 60 thousand hectares of pineapple monocultures. The government has promoted the program for afforestation and it is estimated that 80% are from plantations. In El Salvador, taking into account that its territorial extension is 21 thousand square kilometers, the eucalyptus and teak plantations, mainly, amount to 29,500 hectares, putting pressure on the small percentage of natural forests that still remain in the country. In Nicaragua, the illegal logging of timber and the teak and melina plantations are putting pressure on other regions of the country.
Against this background, RECOMA plans to promote and support resistance to the advance of tree monocultures in Latin America. Thanks to the impetus of the Movement for Tropical Forests (WRM) who facilitates the process, the network faces an enormous challenge. RECOMA integrates a global and structural vision of the problems of plantations. Plantations are not forests.
Tree plantations are added to monoculture plantations highly damaging to biodiversity, water and the environment. The monoculture plantations of eucalyptus, pine, teak, oil palm, pineapple and biofuels, among others, entail an intensive use of agrochemicals, effects on the quality of the soil and water, the displacement of the rural population, the loss of biodiversity, the increase in greenhouse gases, the appropriation of land in the hands of large corporations, etc. It is forests, jungles, moors, grasslands and other ecosystems that are seriously affected. But also because of mining projects, dams and other types of infrastructure, for which RECOMA has the challenge of linking its struggle with these struggles. Not only to stop the reproduction of this agribusiness model, but to build Alter-Natos. (1)
In this context, RECOMA invites actions against monocultures and also within the framework of the Desertification Convention for September 21, the International Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations. Subsequently, from October 18 to 23, 2009 in Buenos Aires the World Forestry Congress will be held and with it more social mobilizations against government strategies to promote plantations.
Below we reproduce the Declaration of RECOMA product of its meeting from July 31 to August 2, 2009 in Uruguay.
Declaration of the Latin American Network against Tree Monocultures (RECOMA)
August 1, 2009 - Villa Serrana, Uruguay
Members of the Latin American Network against Tree Monocultures (RECOMA), from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay met to analyze the situation at level of the entire region.
The recent coup in Honduras prevented the presence of the delegation from that country. RECOMA stands in solidarity with the comrades, repudiates the coup that has plunged Honduras into a spiral of violence and systematic violation of Human Rights by the coup government, and makes a strong call to governments to join the Honduran people to ensure the immediate return to democracy.
The main reason for the meeting was to analyze the reasons for the alarming expansion of tree monocultures destined for the production of coal, cellulose and wood, and the production of biofuels (agro-diesel and wood ethanol) mainly destined for export.
In all the countries of the region, it is verified that the advance of monocultures is generating a growing process of appropriation of territories by forestry companies and palm producers, causing a concentration of land, which directly affects the rights and good living of the local communities.
The advance of monocultures is based on deception promoted by large companies in alliance with national and local governments, which make false promises to communities and small producers about the generation of jobs and local development. In other cases, small producers are persuaded to install these monocultures on their own lands, thus leaving them tied to large companies. Another strategy is to promote these monocultures as a form of recovery of “degraded lands”, since in reality such lands are of enormous use to the communities.
populations that inhabit those areas.
These false promises are made deliberately, ignoring the abundant documented evidence of the extremely serious environmental, social and economic impacts suffered by local populations. After the installation of such plantations, the water, fish, animals, medicinal plants, firewood, food and many other resources that sustained the life and culture of these populations disappear.
This process is consolidating and expanding even more hand in hand with false solutions to climate change such as agrofuels and so-called carbon sinks, which are new sources of business for transnational companies.
All the impacts described would be further aggravated if future tree monocultures were composed of transgenic trees that are already being developed in Brazil and Chile, as well as in several countries outside of South America.
The main objective of this whole model is to supply the excessive consumption of the industrialized countries of the north. To achieve this they resort to the support of international financial institutions, cooperation agencies, free trade agreements, multilateral institutions that are at their service and are equally responsible for the damages caused.
The communities, movements and social organizations that resist and denounce this unbridled advance of monocultures are suffering persecution, harassment, criminalization and dispossession of their livelihoods.
For all of the above, RECOMA plans to expand the fight against monoculture tree plantations, integrating it with other processes at the regional level such as those of indigenous, Afro-descendant, traditional and peasant peoples, rural workers, the landless and organizations of women. We assume as part of our struggle the defense of food sovereignty, for land and territories, the defense of the forest, biodiversity and water.
Friends of the Earth, Argentina -FOBOMADE, Bolivia -Red Alert against the Green Desert, Brazil -OLCA, Chile -CENSAT, Colombia -COECOCEIBA, Costa Rica -Ecological Action, Ecuador -CESTA, El Salvador -Otros Mundos, Mexico -FEDECAMP, Nicaragua - Survival, Paraguay - Program for the Defense of Indigenous Rights, Peru - REDES, Uruguay - World Movement for Forests.
Gustavo Castro Soto placeholder image
Other Worlds, AC / Friends of the Earth Mexico
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico; August 10, 2009
(1) In another article we have already talked about this concept: