Los Devastadores Planes sobre Plantaciones del Programa de Inversión del Banco Mundial

by Simone Lovera

A veces esperas lo peor y no quedas decepcionado.

Cuando el Programa de Inversión Forestal del Banco Mundial (FIP) fue establecido hace 6 años, la Coalición Mundial por los Bosques estábamos escépticos por decir lo menos. El Banco Mundial había financiado (y continúa financiando) numerosos proyectos con un impacto devastador sobre los bosques y las personas dependientes de los bosques, Ponerlos a cargo de lo que es hasta ahora el fondo mundial más grande en cuanto a inversión en proyectos para reducción de emisiones por deforestación y degradación de bosques y fortalecimiento de reservas de carbono (REDD+), sonaba como un caso clásico caso en donde se invita a los lobos al rebaño.

Por otra parte, el FIP no solo daría subvenciones sino también préstamos, y como algunos de los valores más importantes de los bosques no pueden ser reflejados en términos monetarios, la gran pregunta era y sigue siendo cómo estos préstamos serían pagados. Solo las actividades comercialmente rentables son capaces de generar los suficientes ingresos financieros para países para que puedan pagar los préstamos, pero la experiencia con casi cualquier actividad comercialmente rentable en un bosque es que conlleva – a corto o largo plazo – a la degradación forestal y deforestación subsecuente. De hecho, como la definición de bosques usada por el Banco Mundial incluye los monocultivos de árboles, una porción significante de fondos del BM son invertidos en tales plantaciones, simplemente porque son mucho más rentables comercialmente que cualquier otra actividad relacionada con los ‘bosques’. Continue reading

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Brief comments on two recent articles: 1. Editorial: Meeting global challenges in forestry / 2. The World (Fake) Forestry Congress

Here (below) are two articles from the latest FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) ‘Forestry News’ for your interest.

The first article quotes Tiina Vähänen, currently REDD Coordinator at the FAO, and formerly Senior Global Programme Officer at the UN-REDD Programme, who will preside over the World Forestry Congress in 2015. Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tML6P4Tt0tA . Though in this short interview, she comes over as somewhat sceptical of the potential of REDD+ to deliver equitable benefits to local communities.

Ms Vähänen states: “Forests and trees are renewable; they can help provide our growing global population with environmentally friendly fuel, fibre, food and plastics, as well as essential ecosystem services.”

However in this context “renewable” most likely refers to the practice of first allowing real forests to be cut or burned down, and then replaced with ‘renewable’ industrial timber or palm oil plantations.

When she refers to “environmentally friendly fuel, fibre, food and plastics”, no doubt this means the mass production of biomass-fuels (wood pellets), wood-pulp fibre for flush-away loo-paper and long-life disposable cellulose fibre nappies, chocolate bars made with palm oil produced from converted tropical forests, and eucalyptus wood fibre made into chemical cellulose (as a form of plastic).

There can be no doubt that “essential ecosystem services” refers simply to the problematic idea that forests and plantations are needed to provide a cheap way to supposedly offset the industrial carbon emissions of dirty polluting industries and transport systems, so that they that can then continue to dominate the global economy, making real energy efficient solutions more difficult to implement.

When she goes on to say: “The planet needs forests”, what is probably meant is that multinational corporations need access to a plentiful and cheap supply of raw materials from massive tree plantations, subsidised by Nature, poor local communities, and future generations.

And finally, when she declares: “Forests need to be conserved and, in many places, expanded, and used sustainably”, the giveaway is the word ‘expanded’. This can only mean that the ‘fake forest’ monoculture model will be used as an alternative to biodiverse real forests and thus allow the displacement of forest-dependent communities through land-grabbing, in order to establish more tree plantations.

The second article is less ambiguous, however a critical issue is the stated objective: “promotes the elaboration and world-wide acceptance of technical standards such as an international forestry terminology…”  This is a key concern as it is the incorrect terminology being touted by FAO that is used by governments and organisations to justify mis-using the word ‘forest’ to describe industrial tree monocultures, and thereby create confusion in peoples’ minds.

The WFC in 2015 will provide an important opportunity to for civil society to expose the true reasons why real forests are being lost, and to highlight the threats posed by monoculture tree plantations.

For any questions, comments, please send an email to:
plantnet@iafrica.com

Palm Oil: No Thanks: We scrub away the palm oil lobby’s dirty greenwashing

(cross-posted)

Sep 2, 2013

Joint press release by Rainforest Rescue, Society for Threatened Peoples, Robin Wood, Urgewald and Watch Indonesia! 

Berlin

Activists from Rainforest Rescue, the Society for Threatened Peoples, Robin Wood, Urgewald  and Watch Indonesia! are scrubbing the pavements in front of  two conference venues used by palm oil lobbyists in Berlin.  The environmental and human rights organisations are protesting against today’s inaugural meeting of the “Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil” and against tomorrow’s first European Conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The five organisations regard both events as pure greenwashing, which will undermine rather than progress campaigns against forest destruction and plunder for palm oil.  Instead of environmental fairy tales about supposedly sustainable palm oil, they demand that companies and policy makers stop palm oil imports.  Consumers in Europe do not want to use palm oil linked to rainforest destruction and human rights violations.

Palm oil is today found in many types of food, cosmetics and cleaning products as well as being blended with diesel.  The cheap vegetable oil comes at a high cost to the world’s last rainforests and their inhabitants.  Just this year, Indonesia’s forests were ablaze after fires had been set to clear land for new oil palm plantations.

“The palm oil industry tries to cover up its lies with ever new PR tricks and hypocritical events”, according to Renate Vollbrach from Rainforest Rescue.  “Vast oil palm plantations are unsustainable  for the environment and for people.  Even certified palm oil is not green, but produced through the plunder of nature and the violation of human rights”, adds Stefanie Hess of Robin Wood.

The “Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil” is organised by Unilever, Henkel and the supermarket chain REWE, some of the largest palm oil consumers.  Those companies are already members of the palm oil label RSPO.  The German Society for International Co-operation (GIZ) holds the presidency in the Forum, which is co-financed by the Federal Ministry for Agriculture.

“The federal German Government allows itself to be used as a tool by the palm oil industry.  In Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 90% of all palm oil worldwide, its production is linked to human rights abuses.  The human rights guidelines endorsed by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation also apply to the GIZ.  They should know better.” says KnudVöcking, Urgewald.

“People in Indonesia are being evicted from their land to make way for industrial oil palm monocultures.  Instead of teaming up with the palm oiil industry, GIZ should help people to reclaim the land stolen from them”, demands Marianne Klute of Watch Indonesia!.  The Federal German Government and the EU are also promoting the use of palm oil in biodiesel and have recognised the RSPO label for this purpose.  The result: Already, 1.9 million tonnes of palm oil are used as biodiesel in the EU.

Further information

– Renate Volbracht, www.regenwald.org, renate.volbracht@soa-md.de, Mobil 01522 – 163 19 85
– Stefanie Hess, www.robinwood.de, stefanie.hess@robinwood.de, Mobil 01578 – 023 88 08
– Marianne Klute, www.watchindonesia.org, klute@watchindonesia.org, Mobil 0176 -245 26 549
– Knud Vöcking, www.urgewald.de, knud@urgewald.org, Mobil 0171 – 28 32 408

GFC’s Biofuels Statement at COP11

Thank you chair, I am speaking on behalf of Biofuelwatch, EcoNexus, Timberwatch and other NGO members of the Global Forest Coalition.

There is now significant scientific evidence of direct and indirect negative impacts arising from expanding industrial tree monocultures, biofuel crops and other sources of industrial bioenergy. These impacts include the cultivation of invasive tree species, deforestation and forest degradation, the loss of grasslands, land grabbing, community displacement, increasing hunger and food shortages, whilst failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

While the current text refers to “potential benefits to communities”, those are simply not evident. For Indigenous Peoples, local communities and especially rural women, industrial biofuel crops are a threat, with land grabs becoming ever more frequent.

According to a recent International Land Coalition report, land ‘transactions’ involving as much as 203 million hectares worldwide were concluded between 2000 and 2010, and two-thirds of these involved biofuel projects. According to Oxfam, the land grabbed in Africa until now could have fed 1 billion people, and an estimated 60% of this land grabbing was for biofuels.

We are disturbed that the current draft decision merely invites parties to use voluntary tools, such as standards and certification to resolve problems with biofuel crops. Such meagre measures will never counteract the perverse effects of biofuel targets and mandates, as the main negative impacts of biofuels are related to the large overall quantity of production, and the vast amounts of land and water required for this production. Qualitative standards are, per definition, of no use at all to counter these direct and indirect impacts.

Biofuel and bioenergy crops and plantations are emerging as a leading cause of biodiversity loss. The CBD cannot therefore confine itself merely to technical issues or meek measures. Rather, in line with Aichi Target 3 and the precautionary approach, the CBD must call for an immediate elimination of existing subsidies and other incentive schemes for industrial biofuels including mandates and targets, especially in Northern countries that import a significant part of their biofuels.

Lastly we support calls by countries like Switzerland for a precautionary approach to associated risky technologies, and, in this light, Bolivia’s call for a moratorium on synthetic biology.

Press Conference: Monday, 8 October 2012, 11am Bioeconomy as Main Promoter of Financialization of Nature

As the 11th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 11) opens in Hyderabad, India, a diverse alliance of concerned environmental organizations highlight two massive new threats to biodiversity: the “bioeconomy” and the financialization of nature.

October 8th, 11am-12pm, Hitex 3 media room at the CBD Conference

 

Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch will hold a press conference this morning to provide further information of the main threats that accompany the proposed ‘bioeconomy’, both ecological and social.

Today’s press conference launches a compilation of a number of new reports that address the growing threat of the bioeconomy. Due to these serious concerns, the above-mentioned groups denounce the bioeconomy for both its latent threat of using plant and other biomass as a substitute for fossil fuels (bioenergy and other), as well as for its promotion of the “financialization of nature”. Speakers include Dr. Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, Simone Lovera, director of the Global Forest Coalition and Isaac Rojas, coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity campaign of Friends of the Earth International.

“Bioenergy and the bioeconomy in general, supported by government mandates and subsidies, especially in Europe and the US, are now a driving force behind global deforestation and the expansion of industrial monocultures (both crops and trees), exacerbating the worsening food crisis and land grabs, and also providing rationale for the development of dangerous technologies such as synthetic biology and genetically modified trees”, expressed Dr. Rachel Smolker from Biofuelwatch.

Meanwhile, initiatives to “protect” biodiversity through the “financialization” of nature, threaten to put it at the mercy and vagaries of market forces. As well, these approaches undermine the rights of indigenous peoples and communities who are successful stewards of biodiversity as noted by several new reports where various aspects have been highlighted.

Contact:

Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition (on location in Hyderabad), +31.615.345.379

Anne Petermann (US), Global Forest Coalition and Global Justice Ecology Project +1.802.578.0477

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