The Devastating Plantation Plans of the World Bank Forest Investment Program

By Simone Lovera

Sometimes you expect the worst, and you are not disappointed.

When the World Bank Forest Investment Program (FIP) was established 6 years ago, we were skeptic to say the least, as Global Forest Coalition. The World Bank had funded (and continues to fund) numerous projects with a devastating impact on forests and forest dependent peoples. Putting them in charge of what is until now the largest global fund to invest in projects to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) sounded like a classical case of inviting the wolves to herd the sheep.

Moreover, the FIP would not just give grants, but also loans, and as some of the most important values of forests cannot be reflected in monetary terms the big question was and remains how these loans would be paid back. Only commercially profitable activities are able to generate sufficient financial returns for countries so that they can pay back loans, but the experience with almost any commercially profitable activity in forests is that it leads, in the short or long term, to forest degradation and subsequent deforestation. In fact, as the definition of forests used by the World Bank includes monoculture tree plantations, a significant portion of WB funds are invested in such plantations, simply for the reason that they are far more commercially profitable than any other ‘forest’-related activity. Continue reading


When Hope Avenges Mistrust

By: Miguel Lovera

Ever since I read the masterpiece by Jan Ziegler “La Suisse Lave Plus Blanc” (“Swiss Whitewash”) in the early ‘90’s, I started to suspect that there was more than banking in that country. Besides the friendly and compassionate Swiss people, there are world-class corporations of that origin that adhere to the same exploitative philosophy than the banks that Ziegler so genially described in his books.

Recently, last April 24 and 25, I was invited to give a talk on my views about the “agribusiness” model at the University of Basel, on a seminar co-organized with Multi Watch, a coalition of NGO’s and other civil society organizations such as the federation of trade unions of the country. It was clear that many more people in Switzerland understood what Ziegler described in his book and the mistrust towards the companies based there is very deep. Continue reading

Iberá in conflict: national route 118 blocked in demand of land and against forestry plantations

Press Release: Corrientes Capital City, September 17, 2014

– Farmer organizations, unions, social and environmental organizations request the ownership of the lands of the San Nicolás Foundation, taken for the provincial government, and demand that Harvard’s, as well as other companies’ forestry plantations stop their advancement.-

Ctes. Capital. 09/17: Through a press release various organizations reported that Friday, the 19th of the current month, national route 118 was blocked between the localities of Loreto and San Miguel.

The day of struggle was part of the conflict for lands that erupted at the end of last year due to the decision of the provincial government to transfer San Nicolás Foundation’s lands and properties to the Ministry of Production, through the Rural Development Institute. Continue reading

The Biggest Land Grabbing in Africa – PROSAVANNA

(cross.posted via

One of the biggest land grabbing in Africa its about to happen: “press release: National Campaign to PROSAVANA in may 2013, more than 20 civil society organizations and social movements, farmers, environmental, religious, families and communities of the Nacala Development Corridor, signed and submitted with the Presidents of Mozambique, Brazil and the Prime Minister of Japan an open letter to stop and Reflect so Urgent the program ProSavana.

The ProSavana is a program of triangular cooperation among the three Governments that allows Brazil and Japan to the acquisition of more than 14.5 million hectares of land by Mozambican authorities to be yielded to large agribusiness companies and Japanese (monocultures of soy, corn, sunflower, cotton) in the North of the country, along the Nacala Development Corridorwith strong incidence in 19 districts of the provinces of Nampula, Niassa and Zambézia.

The open letter addressed to leaders of the three countries responsible for this mega partnership had as main goal the arrest and shutdown ProSavana urgent to provide deep, broad public dedebate spaces, transparent and democratic in the exercise of the right to information, consultation and public participation in this process of great social, economic and environmental relevance, with high potential for adverse impacts and effects the lives of millions of citizens and future generations.

The document also denounces the existence of numerous discrepancies and contradictions in the insufficient information and documents available, indications and evidence that confirms the existence of unhealthy addictions program design; serious irregularities in the process of consultation and public participation; serious threats of usurpation of land and forced removal of villagers and communities of the areas they occupy today.

One year after the submission and publication of the open letter to stop and Reflect so Urgent the ProSavana Program, this remains unanswered. Against all criticisms and demands of various segments of Mozambican society, the ProSavana continues to be implemented in the enterprise templates and perverse in that it was designed. The Mozambican Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, continues to ignore the demands and just demands of Mozambicans and Mozambique raised around this program.

With much apprehension we assisted the permanence of secrecy, omission, manipulation and deliberate misrepresentation and contradictory documents, the multiplication of intimidation and manipulation of leaders of peasant organizations, representatives of social movements and civil society organizations and activists, led by proponents and executors of Prosavana.

To prevent situations of neocolonialism expressed through the advancement of ProSavana and of multinationals on the territories peasants announce publicly today, June 2, 2014, the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN to PROSAVANA as part of a wider process of hardening of our struggle in a joint mobilization of civil society organisations and movements of peasants in protection of natural resources and against aggression, usurpation, commodification and possible privatisation of land.

With the launch of the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN to PROSAVANA we intend to build a public agenda of fighting with the main objective of stopping and paralyze all actions and projects (Plan Director, Extension and ProSavana models) underway in the framework of the ProSavana under the terms and assumptions on which has been designed and is being implemented, reaffirming the actuality of open letter and all the demands and concerns of peasants contained therein that were never answered. This campaign still intends to denounce and repudiate all forms of manipulation, co-optation, intimidation and attempted criminalization of civil society organizations, leaders and activists who challenge the Prosavana.

Promote a broad mobilisation, organisation and popular resistance of the peasants and affected communities against the aggression and usurpation of land and environmental contamination to be caused by ProSavana;

Empowering the States and international agencies involved in ProSavana through national and international legal mechanisms; lawsuits about the denial of information of a program of public interest and move complaints and denunciations extrajudicial institutions such as: the national human rights Commission and Ombudsman;

Require the Government of Mozambique, the establishment of an inclusive, broad and democratic mechanism construction of an official dialogue with all sectors of the Mozambican society (peasants and farmers, rural communities, religious organizations and civil society) about the real needs, aspirations and priorities of array and sovereign development agenda of the country;

Finally, we reiterate our invitation and appeal to all movements of peasants, environmental and social, civil society organizations, rural communities and all citizens in General for a broad mobilisation, organisation and building a national grassroots movement in defence of our rights and interests relating to access to and control of land, water, goods and common cultural and historical heritage. We urge for a vigorous and firm resistance from all affected by ProSavana and victims of commodification and usurpation of land, social and environmental injustices.

Maputo, June 2, 2014

Comments on FSC at Risk: Greenpeace Progress Report

This post is a reflection from one of GFC members on Greenpeace’s Progress Report on the Forest Stewardship Council which can be found here:
During the 20 years since the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) came into existence, Greenpeace has invested enormous amounts of time, energy and money into trying to make it work. However it now appears that Greenpeace may have reached a point where its allegiance to FSC is starting to wear thin. Recently published Greenpeace reports (see attached and below) indicate growing concern and criticism regarding FSC’s apparent lack of integrity, and poor performance:
“Unfortunately, as the system has expanded, FSC has not been successful in applying its system and standards consistently. Furthermore, many of the FSC’s on-the-ground performance criteria are either weak, under threat of being weakened, or not properly implemented.”
Timberwatch, and international groups including the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), FERN, and Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) consistently raised legitimate concerns about FSC’s most serious shortcomings, especially in respect of the perverse social and environmental effects that have resulted from FSC’s certification of industrial timber plantations in developing countries.
However it seems the FSC has stubbornly chosen to ignore good advice and suggestions for improvements in its policies and operations, and with some of its staff and certification bodies often being sympathetic to the timber industry, it simply continued to expand its indiscriminate certification of clear cut logging in forests, as well as the green-washing of environmentally destructive tree plantations as “responsibly managed forests”.
The big question right now, is whether, and for how much longer, Greenpeace will continue giving the FSC undeserved acclaim by remaining its most credible environmental member? Progressive environmental thinkers are beginning to ask if Greenpeace’s long-standing association with the FSC may actually have done much more harm than good, by helping to legitimise a scheme that was originally intended to protect forests, but now aims to promote excessive consumption of timber and wood-derived products like cellulose and paper, together with the associated pollution and waste that they generate?
In September 2004, many concerned NGOs including Timberwatch and GeaSphere from South Africa, attended an international meeting held in Bonn, Germany, convened by the FSC secretariat, to review FSC’s performance. Unfortunately things have not improved since then, so perhaps the time has come for another major rethink on the future of FSC?
Next year (in September 2015), the World Forestry Congress (WFC) will take place in Durban, South Africa, and it would be both timely and convenient to try to arrange another similar, but independent, meeting of concerned NGO stakeholders during the same period. Participants at this meeting could take  advantage of the opportunity to avoid duplicating travel expenses (and GHG emissions), as many of the key organisations involved (including Greenpeace) should already be there at that time.
Timberwatch is planning to help co-ordinate an alternative civil society event in parallel with the WFC, and would also be willing to help with logistical arrangements for a possible meeting to review the role and performance of the FSC.
Wally Menne
Tel: +27 (0) 82 4442083
Skype: wally.menne

FSC at Risk Progress report

Background – April 17, 2014

Greenpeace believes that, if all FSC supporters work together, we can resolve the shortcomings the system currently faces, and preserve the credibility and legitimacy of FSC.

Download the Progress Report.

Last updated: April 2014 – Progress First Quarter 2014

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only forest certification system that has been internationally recognised by major environmental organisations and social movements. Organisations such as Greenpeace have helped to build, support, and indeed promote FSC, because the system offers assurances of responsible forest management from an ecological, social, and economic perspective. The FSC’s strong foundations, perceived credibility and legitimacy have given FSC-labelled products a competitive edge and an enhanced market value. As a result, the system has experienced dramatic growth and subsequent demand in the last decade.

Unfortunately, as the system has expanded, FSC has not been successful in applying its system and standards consistently. Furthermore, many of the FSC’s on-the-ground performance criteria are either weak, under threat of being weakened, or not properly implemented. We consider FSC to be in a serious situation and are deeply concerned over the rapidly eroding integrity and credibility of the system.

Greenpeace is committed to addressing the shortcomings within the FSC system and is seeking the support of others who share the vision of a strong and meaningful FSC. FSC is the only existing global system with the ability to have a real impact on the ground in the forests.

Download FSC at Risk: A joint 4-step action plan to strengthen and restore credibility

Download Appendix to “FSC at Risk”: Recommended action to strengthen FSC’s credibility

Download FSC at Risk: Finland Case Study