The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Ricardo Carrere, World Rainforest Movement, Uruguay: (+598) 2 413 2989

Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, Paraguay:
595-21-663654/ 595-981-407375
Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International, Costa Rica: (+506) 8338-3204

Groups Call for Action on 21 September: International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations


Large-scale monoculture tree plantations cause serious environmental,
social and economic impacts on local communities. These impacts have
been amply documented around the world, and include the depletion of
water sources due to changes in the hydrological cycle; deterioration
of rivers and streams; air and water pollution due to the use of
pesticides and other agrochemicals; the displacement of entire
communities when their land is occupied by plantations; violations of
human, labour and environmental rights; differentiated impacts on
women; the deterioration of cultural diversity; widespread violence;
and the critical loss of biodiversity. For that reason, NGOs,
Indigenous Peoples' Organisations and social movements all over the
world will commemorate the International Day against Monoculture Tree
Plantations this weekend by organizing actions, demonstrations, marches
and sending out joint letters to express their concerns. (1)

Sandy Gauntlett of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment
Coalition, states: "Tree plantations are not forests. A plantation is a
highly uniform agricultural system that replaces natural ecosystems and
their rich biodiversity. The trees planted are geared to the production
of a single raw material, whether it is timber, pulp, rubber, palm oil
or others. Nevertheless, international institutions like the FAO and
the World Bank, as well as government agencies in countries like New
Zealand, incorrectly define plantations as forests, despite abundant
documentation that proves that the only thing they have in common is
the presence of trees. By calling them forests, these institutions and
governments help to impose and perpetuate an unsustainable monoculture
plantation production model."

"Plantations form part of an industrial model for the production of
abundant and cheap raw material that serves as an input for the
economic growth of the industrialized countries. What the producer
countries get are environmental degradation and rising poverty, which
are the 'externalized costs' of this cheap raw material," stressed
Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition.

"On the lands currently occupied by plantations, there used to be or
could be agricultural crops that would help ensure the people's food
sovereignty, managed by peasant communities. Or these communities and
indigenous peoples could use the land for sustainable activities that
would improve their quality of life, such as community forest
management," added Isaac Rojas of Friends of the Earth International.

The struggle waged by local communities against tree monocultures has
become a part of daily life in countries around the world. It is a
struggle that none of these communities asked for, but one that has
been imposed on them. In Asia and the Pacific, local communities in
Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are fighting against oil palm
plantations. In Africa, there are struggles against plantations that
produce rubber, palm oil and wood pulp in Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia,
Swaziland and South Africa. And in Latin America, countries like
Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay are suffering the impacts
of "green deserts" of pine and eucalyptus trees, while Colombia is now
facing the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations for agrofuel
production, as are Venezuela and the countries of Central America.

To make matters worse, large-scale tree plantations are being promoted
- falsely - as a solution for climate change. On the one hand, the
European Parliament and other institutions are promoting the so-called
second generation of biofuels (3) produced from wood, which would lead
to the rapid and wide expansion of tree monocultures, including
transgenic trees. (4) On the other hand, some southern countries view a
potential fund under the Framework Convention on Climate Change as a
possible source of financing for large tree plantations as carbon sinks
to compensate for the loss of forests. As a result, mechanisms like
REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries)
could be turned into a massive subsidy scheme for plantations.

"All 'international days' refer to problems of global importance that
need the world's attention. The expansion of large-scale tree
monoculture plantations is one of these problems. That is why this 21
September will give greater visibility to the great many struggles
being waged around the world and demonstrate the negative impacts of
this model, and the world will have the opportunity to join in this
struggle," explains Ricardo Carrere of the World Rainforest Movement
(WRM). "21 September is also the International Day of Peace, and this
is what the people waging this struggle are fighting for: Peace, so
that the communities affected can recover their way of life in harmony
with Nature and with other people." he added. "This 21 September, we
will also celebrate the fertile resistance that is growing in so many
communities every day of the year, in pursuit of a world with justice
and without these destructive plantations."


(1) All of these impacts have been documented in many publications,
case studies and declarations made by the communities themselves. For
more information see the World Rainforest Movement website:

(2) Community forest management has been documented as a sustainable
livelihood initiative by Friends of the Earth International. For more
information see their website:

(3) For a more thorough analysis of the problems associated with
agrofuel plantations see the Global Forest Coalition website at:

(4) More information on transgenic trees is available at,,

Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 74 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. With over 2 million members and supporters around the world, FOEI campaigns on today's most urgent environmental and social issues.