THE GREEN DESERT
“OUR LIVES ARE VALUED LESS THAN TOILET PAPER”
THE GREEN DESERT
This report is the result of the Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin-America’s project in autumn 2015. It has been created by Espen Iversen, Håvard Søndenå, Jostein Førland, Lina Bøe, Maria Birkeland Olerud, Marianne Hvattum Løken, Mathilde Breda Enkerud, Silje Strøm, Stine Andreassen Rud, Stine Linnerud Jespersen and Synnøve Rykkel. The main author is Maria Birkeland Olerud. The graphics designer is Stine Andreassen Rud. Photos by Håvard Søndenå, Fabio Nascimento, Maria Birkeland Olerud, Stine Andreassen Rud and Synnøve Rykkel. A huge thank you to those who have contributed articles, chronicles and excerpts: Aksel Nærstad, Lars Løvold, Jens Kihl, Winfridus Overbeek and Gert Nygårdshaug. We would like to extend our thanks to the people and organisations in Brazil who made the work in this report possible, including Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (The Landless Workers’ Movement), the research centre CEPEDES, the Pataxó people in Nova Esperança and Mucugê, the Tupinambá people, and CIMI. Translation by James McRedmond - all efforts to maintain the original authors’ meanings and intentions have been made although some small discrepancies may be found. For the original text, see Den Grønne Ørkenen.
This report is distributed under the Copyleft license. This means that anyone can copy, distribute and edit the contents of this report, providing that this original source is referenced and that any use is not for commercial purposes. .
CONTENTS 4 5 More than a sweet taste: ten things you did not know about eucalyptus 6 Terminology 8 THE EUCALYPTUS INDUSTRY IN BRAZIL 9 Historical background 10 Cellulose companies 12 Aksel Nærstad: Another world is possible – and necessary! 13 A question of land 16 Fibria’s criminalisation of quilombolas 18 Deforestation 20 Lars Løvold: The Atlantic rainforest: Beautiful, threatened and important 22 The consequences for nature 24 Pesticides 27 Genetic Modification 29 Development – for whom? 30 NORWAY AND EUCALYPTUS 32 Erling, the princess and the magical eucalyptus tree 33 Eucalyptus use in consumables 34 Call to the people 35 Jens Kihl: To speak to a tree 36 The role of the state and the oil fund 37 The ethics council 39 Contributing to serious environmental damage 40 A street survey – what is eucalyptus? 42 The oil fund and palm oil 43 Carbon stored in the eucalyptus plantations 43 Winnifridus Overbeek: Fibria in Espirito Santo 44 DEMANDS OF POLITICIANS 46 DEMANDS OF NORGES BANK AND THE STATE PENSION FUND’S FOREIGN INVESTMENTS 46 ABOUT THE NORWEGIAN SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE FOR LATIN-AMERICA 48 REFERENCES 49 OVERVIEW
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OVERVIEW In this report, the Latin-America group of Norway hope to highlight a little known part of Norwegian investment. The report addresses the consequences of the eucalyptus industry in Brasil. Through investment from the Oil Fund, we own part of the cellulose companies Fibria and Suzano, and through Stora Enso, invest in Veracel. These are unethical businesses which degrade the environment in the Extremo Sul region in Bahia. The eucalyptus plantations prevent the fair distribution of land and invade the areas of indigenous people, quilombolas and local farmers. The plantations destroy the Atlantic rainforest and deplete the important biological diversity of the area. Furthermore, the monocultures of eucalyptus lead to water shortages, droughts and fires, increase the usage of toxic pesticides, and cause unemployment and poverty. In 1972, the Norwegian Erling Lorentzen began cellulose production in Brazil with his company Aracruz/Fibria. He has since sold the company, but the Oil fund still invests in the three companies mentioned above. Indeed it is eucalyptus in cellulose based goods such as paper towels and toilet paper. Overall, the eucalyptus industry is harmful to people and indigenous peoplesâ€™ rights, and causes serious damage to the environment. Therefore we demand that our money in the Oil fund is withdrawn from the three eucalyptus companies Fibria, Suzano and Veracel through the Stora Enso investment. We urge the readers to boycott eucalyptus products and to sign below (on our website) to petition the Oil fund to withdraw their investments from the eucalyptus industry.
INTRODUCTION How would you feel if you learned that the production of the paper which you currently hold was responsible for serious environmental damage and for infringing on peopleâ€™s rights? Fortunately, that is not the case. Nevertheless, much of the paper we use on a daily basis, comes from an industry which neither respects people or the environment. Paper is made from cellulose, which, in turn, often comes from eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees are grown in large plantations, in Bahia in Brazil, amongst other places. The aim of this report is to expose the truth of the eucalyptus industry. We spent four months in Brazil with the Latin-America group of Norway. We investigated the eucalyptus industry in the state of Bahia. When we refer to our fieldwork, we mean the interviews and observations obtained during our stay in Brazil. Where no sources are referenced, the information comes from the people in Bahia. It was Norwegians who first started the eucalyptus industry in Brazil, and Norway still holds enormous investments which prop up the industry. The eucalyptus plantations cause large environmental damage, and destroy the livelihoods of the people who are displaced from the land where the plantations are situated. The Norwegian welfare state is built upon the revenue from an industry which destroys the biodiversity and quality of life of the people in a far flung part of the world. We hope that these people will be heard, and we want to begin a public discourse on the eucalyptus industry. We request that all the Norwegian investments will be withdrawn from the eucalyptus industry. With this report, the work begins, and we warmly welcome you to the team.
DEMONSTRATORS: A group of indigenous PataxĂł people say no to eucalyptus.
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MORE THAN A SWEET TASTE Ten things you did not know about eucalyptus 1. Eucalyptus exists in around 500 different species, with only a few of them naturally found outside of Australia. They make up an important portion of a koala bear’s diet. 2. We find the eucalyptus plant in monocultures in, amongst other countries, Brazil, Argentina, USA, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Malawi, Republic of Congo and a number of Asian countries. 3. In the state of Bahia in Brazil, the timber of the eucalyptus tree goes first and foremost to the production of cellulose and charcoal. Charcoal is used for barbecue fuel, and used in Brazil for the production of iron. The tree is also used in CO2 storage projects. 4. Norway has a strong historical ties to the eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. In 1972, the Norwegian Erling Lorentzen started the Aracruz Celulose company in Brazil. Lorentzen sold the company in 2008, and the year after, the company changed its name to Fibria. Today Fibria is the world’s largest producer of bleached cellulose1. 5. The oil fund has invested 239 million and 172 million krone, respectively, in the cellulose companies Fibria and Suzano. Additionally the fund has invested 3.1 billion krone in the company Stora Enso, which owns the cellulose giant Veracel2. All these companies have eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. 6. The eucalyptus can grow in very dry areas because the roots suck up hundreds of litres of water daily. The ground and rivers dry up, and make the surrounding areas uninhabitable for other plants and animals. The tree is used to fight malaria by being planted next to and thus draining swamps where the mosquitos live.
7. The Atlantic rainforest runs along Brazil’s coast and is one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems. It contains on average 450 different species per hectare. That is the most diversity of species in the world. In fact, 60% of Brazil’s endangered species live in the Atlantic rainforest3. At one time, the forest covered 36% of Bahia, but today it only covers 7%. The forest is also the home to a number of indigenous peoples. The eucalyptus plantations are one of the main causes that the forest is disappearing4. 8. The eucalyptus plantations use large amount of pesticides which pollute the soil, water and air. The pesticides which are used are, amongst others, sulfluramida and glyphosate. The latter is patented as the Monsanto product Round-up. It has been proven that the cellulose company Veracel has sprayed glyphosate in protected conservation areas5. 9. It is proven that Veracel has planted eucalyptus without permission on 1.645 hectares of land which belongs to the Pataxó people. In fact the Pataxó people believe that number is in fact 30 hectares of land6. It is a problem that indigenous people in the Extremo Sul area of Brazil have been driven from their homes. 10. The oil in eucalyptus trees’ leaves is highly flammable and in Australia, exists in a naturally fire based ecosystem where the seeds of the trees sprout in the ashes. In areas around the eucalyptus plantations there are frequent forest fires which are highly destructive.
1. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 31. 2. Norges Bank Investment Management, «Beholdninger». 3. Hance «Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (Mata atlântica)».4. Souza, «As transnacionais». 5. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 38. 6. Ibid., p. 42.
– We stand on the ground where it all began. Where the first meeting between the white man and the Indian took place. Today we can no longer accept what this has led to. We can no longer accept the eucalyptus plantations and that they dry out our rivers. That they dry out our water sources. That they spray poison onto the ground on which our children play. We need help to remove this business which makes our ground thirsty. We want the indigenous people to get back their land – and to get it back now. We want you to take our words to your country in Europe. Cacique Uburatan Silva de Oliveira, chief of the Pataxó in the village of Mucugê..
EXTRACT: MENGELE ZOO
“There were many gringos in the land. They chopped down the jungle and created enormous banana plantations. Or they carved through the mountains searching for gold. Or they drilled for oil. There was a bounty on Indians who only wanted peace.” “For days, they ride through the banana plantations where Mino could not see even a single summer bird. For a week they followed a river which was full of sludge from the huge gold fields which took over the hills. It took them two months to cross the country where it was narrowest. It was a huge country. It was a broken country.”
Mengele Zoo (1989) is Gert Nygårdshaug’s first book in the trilogy “Mino”. The trilogy addresses, amongst other things, the North-South conflict, imperialism and environmental protection. The excerpt is used with the author’s permission. Illustration by Silje Strøm.
DEN GRØNNE ØRKENEN
TERMINOLOGY EXTREMO SUL is the southernmost region in the state of Bahia, which lies in the North-East of Brazil. EUCALYPTUS is a plant which belongs to the myrtle family and comes from Australia. The tree grows very fast and is adapted to extremely dry conditions. It is therefore ideal for producing cellulose. CELLULOSE is the most abundant organic material in nature. It is extracted from trees and is the raw material used in the production of artificial textiles and paper. BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY is the diversity of different species of plants and animals in a specific environment. ATLANTIC RAINFOREST, Mata atlântica, is the forest which originally covered Brazil’s coastal areas. It is made up of all types of forest, including dry forests, rain-, tropical-, subtropical-, and savannah woodland. The forest is very rich in plants and declared a national heritage site. MONOCULTURE is a large land area dedicated to the growth of only one species. The plantation is a large land area, often in topical coves, where a specific species is planted in large quantities for an economic purpose. QUILOMBO is a society which was borne out of people who were freed from slavery. QUILOMBOLA is the term for people who were freed from slavery. INDIGENOUS refers to a people who are not governed by a national state but were in the area before the Europeans came and made it a colony. HECTARE is a unit of measurement for area, often use for measuring large land masses. A hundred hectares is equivalent to one square kilometre.
THE EUCALYPTUS INDUSTRY IN BRAZIL
THE GREEN DESERT
A STORY OF GROWTH
Illustrasjon av Maria Birkeland Olerud
The region Extremo Sul in the state of Bahia is one part of the Costa do Descobrimento, or the Discovery Coast. It was here the Portuguese conquerors first set foot on Brazilian soil. From a European perspective, it is here where the history of Brazil begins. For the millions of people who already lived there, it was the beginning of 500 years of oppression and the exploitation of natural resources and labour. The Portuguese brought over people from Africa to be slaves, and claimed large areas of land. In the years since the Portuguese came here, the region has undergone great changes. Before, 36 percent of Bahia was covered in the Atlantic rainforest. Today, nearly all of the forest has gone. Only 7 percent remains7. Most of the land is now used for large scale agriculture. If you were to look out over the landscape of Bahia, your eyes would be met with the sight of miles of pastures as well as sugar, coffee and eucalyptus plantations.
THE RISE OF THE EUCALYPTUS INDUSTRY In the 1960s and 1970s the number of eucalyptus industries increased dramatically, partially financed by the Brazilian development bank BNDES. At the time, Brazil was a military dictatorship, and the state-run bank financed projects which gave the dictatorship economic growth8. Due to the large deforestation in the region, the replanting of the forest with eucalyptus and other types of trees gained momentum from the 1970s. Thus the eucalyptus companies could expand into an enormous industry under the guise of reforestation, if necessary. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) aims to ensure that everyone has enough nutritious food in order to live a healthy life9. The organisation was, according to the World Rainforest Movement, responsible for giving the tree plantations official recognition as forest. In other words, the UN
– There is a difference between having and being. Capitalism always wants to have more, and that breaks the world. The land is for working, not poisoning. How did the Europeans find so much wealth so well preserved when they came here 500 years ago? We, the local people, know how to preserve the land and all we want is the rights to our land. Here in Brazil there is enough land for everyone, enough that everyone should be able to grow plants. Brazil is large, but small for the agricultural industry. Bury Pataxó, inhabitant of the Pataxó village Mucugê.
legitimised the destructive eucalyptus monocultures. The FAO also helped promote tree plantations as part of the green revolution, which had as its main goal, the aim to stop hunger in the world10. Considering that eucalyptus is first and foremost used for cellulose and pulp for paper, it is absurd that the UN encouraged tree planting. Not one starving person can eat neither cellulose nor paper. In a world which continues to become more concerned with the consequences of deforestation, tree planting is considered an important climate saving measure. Replanting in the form of eucalyptus is apparently good, and gets large support from climate change movements. At the same time, one should ask themselves if a plantation can really replicate the properties of a natural forest.
65 percent of the tree species which are found on the plantations are eucalyptus13. Many people who have lived on family farms for generations, have found themselves forced out of their homes by powerful landlords and major companies. Brazil’s union for paper and cellulose (BRACELPA) has called it a large source of wealth and social development14. On the other hand, our fieldwork has seen that the wealth and social development has not benefitted the local people. In Brazil, the industry is controlled by large companies. In the region Extremo Sul in Bahia, the production is dominated by only three eucalyptus companies. Fibria, formerly Aracruz, Suzano Papel e Celulose and Veracel. Veracel is a joint venture with the Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso and Fibria.
BRAZIL IS THE LARGEST IN THE WORLD Brazil is today the largest producer and exporter of eucalyptus. Around 5 million hectares of eucalyptus are planted on Brazilian soil11. The tree plantations in Brazil cover an area of land larger than Belgium and the Netherlands put together12. 7. Souza, «As transnacionais». 8. Overbeek et al., An overview of industrial tree plantations in the global south, p. 46. 9. UN-communications, «FNs organisasjon for ernæring og landbruk (FAO)». 10. World Rainforest Movement, Plantations are not forests, p. 30. 11. Big lands Brasil, «Eucalyptus». 12. Corporate Watch, «The new trend of biomass plantations in Brazil: tree monocultures». 13. Silvestre & Rodriguez, Eucalyptus/Aracruz celulose and human rights violations. 14. BRACELPA, «Eucalyptus».
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Table 1: The area of land owned by the cellulose companies, number of hectares planted with eucalyptus and where they are in Brazil.
Aracruz Celulose were the company that Norwegian Erling Lorentzen set up when he came to Brazil in the 1960s. Lorentzen sold the company in 2008. Fibria began in 2009, it is the new name for Aracruz. Then the Brazilian cellulose producer Votorantim Celulose e Papel became a part-owner of Aracruz by buying Lorentzen’s shares in the company. Today Fibria is one of the world’s largest producer of eucalyptus. The company has factories in the Brazilian states of Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Mato Grosso Do Sul and Bahia. In the city of Eunápolis in Bahia, Fibria has a joint venture called Veracel with the Finnish-Swedish company Stora Enso. Each party owns 50 percent. Since they started in 1998, Veracel has bought increasing amounts of land in the region. Stora Enso is one of the world’s largest forestry groups, and is the result of the merger of the Swedish company Stora and the Finnish company Enso in 1998. The Enso part of the company was founded by the Norwegian Hans Gutzeit in the latter half of the 20th century. The Brazilian company Suzano is the world’s largest producer of eucalyptus and one of the largest pulp producers. The company’s biggest factory is in Mucurí in the Extremo-Sul region in Bahia. The oil fund has invested in all of these companies. In Fibria, the oil fund has invested 239 million krone, whilst the stake in Suzano amounts to 172 million krone. In Stora Enso, it has invested more than three billion krone, and bought nearly 5% of the group.
Table 2: Norwegian krone invested and percentage ownership of the companies Fibria, Suzano and Stora Enso in 2015. 15. Fibria, A New Look to the Future, p. 28. 16. Suzano, «Unidade de Negócio Florestal». 17. Veracel, Sustainability Report, p. 5.
ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE -
“The history of man has now reached a point where fundaCHRONICLE: AKSEL NÆRSTAD mental political change is inevitable. There are more than a billion people who, today, cannot meet their basic needs, our children and grandchildren, and the world itself calls out for a revolution. This has to happen. We know we have an Aksel Nærstad is the opportunity to remove the danger, turmoil and conflict which senior advisor to the otherwise will be unavoidable.” Development Fund This is how the Norwegian prime minister, Gro Harlem and the international Brundtland, opened the United Nations Conference on Encoordinator for More vironment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. She and Better Network. had led the preparations for the World Commission on Environment and Development, the Brundtland commission as it became known. There were high expectations both before and after the conference. I was one of the many thousands of activists who were present during the Rio conference in 1992. Many of us doubted that these big words would be followed up with practical policy. Brundtland’s strong words should be read again. The need for drastic political changes and measures to be put in place in order to stop climate change and other dramatic environmental damage, and to rid the world of extreme hunger and poverty is even more pressing now than when Gro Harlem Brundtland said this 24 years ago. 500 YEARS OF OPPRESSION AND RESISTANCE Many of the largest issues in today’s world have deep roots. Brazil is a good example of that. The fight of the Landless Workers’ Movement, MST, can be traced back to the Portuguese conquest in 1500 and how the colonial power gave the land to its obedient subjects, not lease to the officers in the Portuguese army. Despite reforms after the military dictatorship fell in 1985, around 1% of the population own approximately 45% of the land in Brazil, and there are roughly 5 million landless families in the countryside. In 2000 there were large official commemorations all across Brazil for the 500 year anniversary of the first Portuguese landings in Brazil. I was there when MST had their main commemoration. 3000 landless people and small farmers were together outside Porto Seguro in Bahia where the Portuguese conquerors first came to land. MST’s motto for the commemoration was “500 years of oppression and resistance”. This is not a unique situation, but Brazil is for many reasons a world in miniature, for better and for worse; huge wealth and severe poverty side by side, large companies with huge economic and political power yet strong social movements; large scale, environmentally damaging, export focused, industrial agriculture yet small scale organic farming which produces the majority of the food; large environmental damage and oppression, yet many examples of conservation of the rainforest and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights. For many reasons Brazil can be labelled a schizophrenic country – in a schizophrenic world. AN UNACCEPTABLE SITUATION It is completely unacceptable and unnecessary that nearly half of the world’s population live in poverty and that nearly 800 million people are hungry every day. The world’s 80 richest people have economic wealth equivalent to the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world, so there should not be any doubt that it is possible to do something in order to better share wealth and reduce poverty. And more than enough food is produced in the world that everybody could have enough to eat. Nevertheless, around 20,000 people die each day of hunger, or hunger related causes, over half of these people are children under 5 years old. If more countries had focused on programs to reduce hunger as Brazil has, then the numbers would be much lower. Brazil’s “no hunger” program consists of free school meals, purchasing of food from local small farmers and cash support for poor families if pregnant women go for health checks and the children go to school. This has not rid the country of hunger, but the total number of hungry people has decreased from 22.8 million people in 1992 to 13.6 million people in 2012, and malnutrition in children has been reduced by 73%. 24 years after the convention on climate change was adopted in Rio, we can see that governments and authorities the world over have not fulfilled their promises. There are nearly 25 million refugees in the world due to environmental problems – mainly down to climate change. The livelihoods of millions of people have been ruined because no action has been taken to stop climate change. All governments know what must be done. The knowledge and technology are there, but the strong words about stopping climate change have not been followed up with practical policy.
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ORGANIC: The landless workers’ movement sells organic bananas in the market in Porto Seguro in Bahia each week.
IMPORTANT POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WORLD, BUT… Fortunately there are a lot of positive motions in the world. Even though there are around the same number of people who are hungry in the world today as there were in 1950, this means the proportion of the population who are hungry has drastically fallen. In 1950 the hungry population made up one third of the people in the world, today it is only one seventh who are hungry. Child deaths have also been drastically reduced in the last 25 years. The number of children under 5 years old who die each year has been halved in the years since 1990, but that is still over 3 million children each year. Never before have so many people received an education and learned to read and write, but according to UNESCO there are 16 million girls and 8 million boys in the world who have never even begun schooling. Also, when it comes to the environmental problems that the world is facing, we can list positive steps forward. There has been a rapid technological development of renewable energy. Oil and coal can be quickly phased out as a source of energy – if the authorities only decided to do so. The environmentally damaging industrial agriculture is not necessary to produce enough food. It is well documented that organic farming and other forms of sustainable agriculture can produce not only enough, but good, healthy food for the world’s growing population. But the Norwegian authorities still open up new fields for oil drilling and relies on meat production and fish farming in Norway which is dependent on soya produced in unsustainable ways in Brazil instead of relying on Norwegian green resources and the sea’s own resources. Unfortunately, Norway is not alone. There is a large gap between what could be done to stop climate change and create a sustainable world, and what is actually put into practice by authorities all over the world. HUNGRY FOR TRADE? A knife can be both useful and deadly. It can be used to cut bread and to kill. Just as is the way with international trade. Every country profits from and is dependent on international trade, but it can also be damaging – both for the environment and directly to people. Poor small farmers in the countryside have, in many countries, become ousted from their local market by import of highly subsidised goods from rich lands. The imports of chicken from the EU to Cameroon increased by 300% from 1999 to 2003, and 92% of the farmers who produced chicken in Cameroon had to leave the industry. Around the millennium, farmers in Ghana lost 40% of the market for tomatoes to cheap imports from the EU. In Haiti the increase of rice imports from the USA, from 15,000 tons in 1980 to 350,000 tons in 2004 thanks to dumping, and that made it impossible for the local farmers to compete. President Bill Clinton later apologised for USA’s dumping of rice in Haiti. The international trade rules in the World Trade Organisations, WTO, were negotiated in the years between 1986 and 1994. The was the “glory period” of market liberalism. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin wall left a strong mark on the political debate. Conservative and market liberal heads of state, like Ronald Reagan in America and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, played a central role in the international political landscape. The world bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, pushed developing countries to follow the “Washington consensus”. Everything would be considered as goods for the international market. The politicians should interfere as little as possible. Large companies could have free trade. It had been impossible to negotiate this due to regulations imposed by the WTO which were in place until 1980 and have been restored since 2000. After the WTO agreement came into force in 1995, the USA and EU have tried to put liberal market principals in new areas but have been stopped by the resistance of many developing countries. Instead of respecting the resistance of the developing countries, negotiations have taken place for a new agreement known as TISA, now without the WTO, aiming to liberalise the international trade of services. Norway is also part of the negotiations. At the same time, the USA and EU are negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement between themselves, the TTIP, and the USA is negotiating a free trade agreement with Asian countries, called the TPP.
Colonialism in its original form can be found all over the world both in culture and economy. For the last 500 years, the method of dominance and oppression by large companies and the largest economic nations has come in a different form. Of course we should be glad of the end of slavery and the most grotesque exploitation of the colonial period. But the challenges are no smaller today that they were 500 years ago. In many ways they are larger. It does not matter if there will be equality for people all over the world in a few hundred years. The fight to protect the climate and the world’s resources starts now! ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE In January 2001, I went to Porto Alegre in Brazil for a few days before the first World Social Forum. The organisers were excited. There had been a tough political campaign with regional and national authorities regarding them organising the forum. “If 3-4 thousand people do not come, it will be a crisis for us”, one of the many volunteers who worked for the event said to me two days before the forum opened. 12,000 people came! There was a buzz of optimism. Some months after the first World Social Forum, the 11th September terror attack was carried out by Al-Qaeda in Washington. President George Bush Sr began a comprehensive offensive against the terrorists, but not only against them. “Either you are against the terrorists or you are against the USA” was his message, and it hit hard in the media. Newspapers all over the world wrote that the alternative movement was dead. The excitement was therefore great before the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2002, four months after the terror attack. 60,000 people came from 123 countries! A leading article in the New York Times stated that the alternative movements which had gathered in Porto Alegre were the world’s second superpower. The Autumn of 2000, a year before the first World Social Forum, I was arranging a large conference in Oslo; market power or democratic governance? It was a huge success with 700 people attending. Some months later, 5 of us Norwegians were together at the first World Social Forum in Brazil. One day, we gathered together in our hotel room, to follow up on the success of the conference in Oslo and to make it a permanent even to bring together the global alternative movement. The globalisation conference – the Norwegian Social Forum – was born out of a hotel room in Brazil. The World Social Forum is still an important meeting place and political workshop. Regional and national forums have been formed which play an important role in political mobilisation. Many positive things have happened, but the large changes in politics that are necessary to bring about a sustainable and fair world have not happened. SUSTAINABILITY TARGETS CAN BE AN IMPORTANT TOOL In September 2015 the UN General Assembly agreed goals for sustainable development to be achieved by 2030 – with 17 goals and 169 objectives were laid out. There is not a lack of good intentions and good objectives. Poverty in all of its forms should be eradicated. Hunger will be eradicated; food safety and improved nutrition will be obtained and sustainable agriculture must be promoted. Equality between the sexes must be obtained and women and girls must be empowered. Immediate action must be taken to fight climate change and the effects of it. These are only four of the seventeen sustainability goals. It is very good that these sustainability goals have been ratified! It puts pressure on politicians to do something about the most serious problems of the world. Organisations and different popular movements now have an important tool to control the efforts to initiate action against and to change the policies which lead to or contribute to all of the problems that the sustainability goals address. But we have heard this all before. At the conference 24 years ago, Brundtland uttered these words which are cited above, which became the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. They should contribute to the effort to stop climate change and the reduction of biological diversity. But the emission of greenhouse gasses has only continued to rise. Millions of people are affected, especially the poor in rural areas of developing countries. And the biological diversity on which the future food supply is dependent, continues to decline. Around 75% of the biological diversity in agriculture in the world has been lost across the last 80 years! It is necessary to have both large political changes and concrete measure in order to attain the sustainability goals. There should be much attention focused on this in the coming years. What must be done to stop climate change? What must be done to increase support for poor farmers in developing countries – which is known as the most effective measure for fighting poverty? Further, if the authorities across the world are really going to do something to implement the objectives, then it is important to put in place mechanisms and systems where most people, unions, farming organisations, women’s organisations, solidarity organisations, environmental organisations and many, many more have the opportunity to access information and to be actively involved in the resulting actions. Regarding this area, organisations should now go together and create suggestions on how such resulting mechanisms should look and work. Unfortunately, the shouts for a revolution are not strong enough from our children and grandchildren, and from the world itself. But many of us hear the shouts. Thanks to Gro Harlem Brundtland’s opening words at the Rio conference in 1992. Another world is possible! Let us create it! Aksel Nærstad International Coordinator for More and Better Network www.moreandbetter.org
THE GREEN DESERT
A QUESTION OF LAND
FIGHT FOR MOTHER EARTH: Can we not use Norwegian krone to buy out the companies in the eucalyptus industry, ask demonstrators in the indigenous village of Mucugê.
Brazil is a society with enormous gaps between the classes. The colour of skin and background largely determines which level of society you belong to, and thus your access to education, healthcare and work. Indigenous people, the quilombolas and small farmers are all marginalised groups. Of the people who live in extreme poverty in Bahia, indigenous and black people make up 84%18. This is also the section of the population who have traditionally lived on the land. Their economic situation makes it nearly impossible to compete with the large companies that have bought the land to grow food. THE UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION The distribution of land has been uneven since the colonial times began in the 1500’s. Owning land is associated with power and a certain ethnic origin. The land has been shared between the privileged minority with access to a large workforce of cheap labour. The colonists arrived at what is now Brazil, encouraged the Portuguese to colonise the whole area. Individual families were given large areas of land so
that the area was under the control of the Portuguese crown, land which was originally populated by the many indigenous people. Today, 1.6% of the land owners, own 46.8% of all the arable land. The fact that this is still the case, shows that the structural injustice from colonial times has been maintained in the state system. There are many people who still have no rights or possibilities to buy their own land and to live a worthy life. THE LANDLESS WORKERS’ MOVEMENT When only a few people own most of the land, many own nothing and are left without rights or the chance to live a worthy life. Thus, there is the landless workers’ movement, MST, which, with its 1.5 million members is the largest social movement in Latin-America19. Direct consequences of the skewed land distribution are poverty, hunger, illness and environmental damage. The towns and cities fill up with people from the rural areas. They are on the hunt for jobs, and as a result of this the level of crime and prostitution rises. In the state of Bahia, the eucalyptus plantations are one of the organisations main
18. Worldbank, «Brazil: Social Inclusion of Minority Groups in Bahia» 19. Friends of the MST, «About Friends of the MST» 20. Andrade & Souza, «Brasil: La empresa de monocultivos de eucaliptos Veracel Celulose intenta expulsar a los indígenas Pataxó de su territorio». 21. Souza og Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 41.
enemies. These plantations take up large amounts of arable land and which hinders the possibility of a fair and equal distribution. THE INDIGENOUS RESISTANCE In Bahia, we visited two villages which are owned by the Pataxó in Extremo Sul. This Pataxó community are fighting to get Nova Esperança, “New Hope”, designated as the indigenous populations territory. The Pataxó people are not only losing land to the authorities. Today they are fighting the eucalyptus company Veracel, which has planted eucalyptus on a large part of what was their territory20. Of 120,000 hectares of land which belongs to the Pataxó the cellulose company has invaded and taken more than 30,000 hectares21. The land loses its nutrition and the people who originally had made their living on the land, hunting and fishing, find that their way of life is being stolen from them. Mucugê is a municipality in Extremo Sul, Bahia, and is another Pataxó village in conflict with the eucalyptus company Suzano. The eucalyptus company has invaded the area many times and planted eucalyptus only a few metres from their houses. The Pataxó people have answered with actions of their own, tearing up the eucalyptus cuttings and stopping the workers. The village has been through many lawsuits and Suzano has had to withdraw. Even today the company still tries to plant on their land. THE COMMUNITY FREED FROM SLAVERY’S FIGHT AGAINST THE CELLULOSE In the period from 1500 to 1800, more than 4 million African slaves were brought to the area which is Brazil today. Some managed to escape from the inhumane conditions on the plantations and formed small communities deep in the forest. Many of these communities still exist today and are called “quilombo”. In the quilombo one can still find a strong influence of the African heritage in many different forms, including the language, religion and culture. Over 30 quilombola communities in Bahia are fighting to get back land which has been taken over by the eucalyptus companies22. This is land they are entitled to, but which is invaded by various companies like Fibria, Suzano and Veracel. In Brazil’s constitution from 1988, it was ascertained that the quilombola communities which have lived in an area for a long time, have the claim to the land from the state23. 22. Corporate Watch, «The new trend of biomass plantations in Brazil: tree monocultures». 23. Cultural Survival, «Quilombos and Land Rights in Contemporary Brazil».
– The eucalyptus company Suzano came in and planted 500,000 trees on our land. We decided on the action to burn down the trees, tear them up from the ground, and to stop the workers. Thus we were sued by Suzano. They tried to take the land from us. But we will fight, all of us! Suzano finally lost in court and must leave the area. Now they are appealing in order to try and plant trees anew.
Kamaywrá Pataxó lives in the village of Mucugê and is a member of the Pataxó community.
– Before, there was only the Atlantic Rainforest here, but people sold their land to Aracruz and moved to the city in the hope of a better life. It was a difficult time here. Before, around 20,000 people lived in the area, now there are only 8-9,000. Today, we only want to rescue our water supplies. We must fence in the rivers so that nobody´s cows will drink what remains in the beds. Aracruz came with promises of work and a better life but this has not come to fruition.
Arquimedes Barbosa da Chuz is a quilombola in the village of Vila Juazeira and is a descendent of slaves who managed to escape from the Portuguese conquerors in Brazil. Today Vila Juazeira is surrounded by eucalyptus, the river has dried up and the Atlantic Rainforest has been cut down.
THE GREEN DESERT
FIBRIA’S CRIMINALISATION OF QUILOMBOLAS
In the quilombo of São Domingos, in the state Espirito Santo, the five leaders were accused by Fibria of stealing firewood. In villages in Brazil, there are many people who depend on twigs and wood which they collect from the forest. They use it to make charcoal which they sell, or for warming their houses and cooking food. In the villages of São Domingos, this was allowed on Fibria’s eucalyptus plantation. The wood which could not be used for cellulose could be taken. Fibria abruptly ended this agreement. At once, large police patrols appeared in the settlements and took many people to prisons. “The company had accused 30 people, all from here. One day the police came. They parked their bus, dogs and horses on the football pitch and went from door to door and arrested us. They had weapons and ran after us. It was like slavery was back” said Altiane Blandino, who was one of the accused quilombolas, along with Domingo Jeronimo, Antonia Marcos Blandino, Marcos Blandino and Milton dos Santos. A PISTOL TO MY HEAD Heavily armed, 150 policemen entered the settlement and took away the five accused. “They treated us like we were drug traffickers, like we were dealing in some other illegal thing like weapons. We were arrested at 4 o’clock in the morning at our homes. I had six pistols held to my head. After a long conversation, I was escorted out by two policemen” Domingos Jeronimo recalls. During and after the time of slavery, many slaves escaped to the forest. They had no papers for the land on which they eventually created their societies. “This land was not owned when our ancestors came here. They escaped and set up residence here, where they could work how they wanted. They farmed on the land and built shelters and later houses, and cultivated the land where they could. Fibria came in to many, many acres and claimed ownership of the land. They drove out many of our people from all of these acres. They said that, if we did not leave their place, they would destroy our houses, recalled Altiane Blandino. THE DRIED UP LAKE “They have large tankers which take on average 15,000-20,000 litres of water. They have around 30 tankers. Each and every one does more than five trips a day. There is one lake which has already dried up. They have take so much water to irrigate their eucalyptus. The local communities have to dig holes to find water. We shout, we have already asked them, already pleaded. But they just hired security personnel and still will not stop.” This is the account of Marcos Blandino. The police unit which was sent to arrest the five men was a riot police unit, that is, armed and covered in armour from head to toe, prepared to resist a violent confrontation. There was very little that the residents could do when their little village was invaded by more policemen than there are families in the village. The company is able to drive out the quilombolas, which gives them free reign to plant on their land. “They say that we committed theft, but the first theft here was committed by them. Today they call me a thief, well, I want to say to them: the first thief who came here, was the Aracruz company. They send riot police to us, they take us away from our country. The only thing the company wants right now is for us to be taken away, because we are resisting” ends Altiane Blandino.
REDUCED ACCESS TO FOOD The eucalyptus plantations take up large swathes of land, which leads to a reduction in food production. For example, the area for growing beans, one of the most important basic ingredients for Brazilians, reduced by 560 hectares in the municipality of Caravelas in Bahia between 2005 and 200825. That is equivalent to 73%, and leads to a drastic reduction in access to food. At the same time, the area taken up by eucalyptus plantations has risen. The cellulose companies Fibria and Suzano bought 38% of the land in Caravelas26. Not only that, but the area around the monocultures become difficult to cultivate. The land dries up and is lacking nutrients, and the pesticides contaminate both the water and the land outside the plantations. FOOD – A HUMAN RIGHT For poor families the consequences are drastic. It is expensive to buy food when you cannot grow it yourself. The UN’s human rights declaration states that everyone has the right to health and wellbeing, including food27. In other words, the eucalyptus industry takes a stance against the local people when they take a basic right away from them – access to food. Furthermore, family-run agriculture is more environmentally friendly than industrial farming. With the world’s hunger problem, it is more ethical to use the fertile soil for small scale, sustainable food production than the exporting of cellulose. The food is eaten where it is grown, and is healthier because it doesn’t contain large quantities of pesticides, as the food from industrial agriculture does.
THE BEAN HARVEST: On an organic acre in the landless’ settlement Paulo Freire, in Mucurí in Bahia, the farmers grow beans.
– From childhood, I remember the forest we grew up in, from the fruit we ate to the diversity around us. I can say this because I am 50 years old and have seen the changes in the region. I have often asked myself what proportion of the cellulose in the eucalyptus stays in Brazil, but I have still not found an answer. If you know the answer, I would like to hear that. The cellulose becomes toilet paper in Europe – to think that our lives are not worth as much as toilet paper.
Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza, a researcher at CEPEDES, a research centre for development in the region of Extremo Sul in Bahia.
25. Gonçalves, «As transnacionais». 26. Ibid. 27. UN communications «FNs verdenserklæring om menneskerettigheter».
THE GREEN DESERT
THE LOST FOREST – Thanks to the eucalyptus, new animals have migrated to the forest. But here, the nature is a bit different and the fruit which many of the birds eat cannot be found. We have species which were not found here before, among others, a large snake and a parrot. The eucalyptus just keeps coming closer and closer. I am not against the actual tree itself, but the way it is used.
Rosivaldo Ferreira da Silva is the leader of a Tupinambá village in Extremo-Sul in Bahia.
The deforestation in the tropical areas makes the temperature rise and decreases the amount of rainfall. In addition, the deforestation lengthens the dry season and makes the recovery of the original forest that much harder. Brazil’s deforestation has six causes: 1. Illegal logging, carried out on behalf of large landowners. 2. Changes in agricultural mechanisms. 3. Land speculation. 4. Cattle ranching. 5. Road building and population growth. 6. Subsidies and tax benefits which make deforestation economically profitable29.
The logging of timber which is used for cellulose production leads to large areas of land being cleared. The Atlantic rainforest has been felled in favour of the development of eucalyptus plantations has been a practice for 70 years already. “Tractors with large chains strung between them flatten everything which gets in their way in order to build eucalyptus plantations. The Atlantic rainforest, the broken forest, agricultural areas and many indigenous villages have been flattened to the ground”, said José Maria Coutihno to NRK, Norway´s national broadcaster30. He was a tractor driver for Aracruz Celulose in the 1970’s. The engineer Walter da Paula Lima has told us that the students at the forestry institute at the University of São Paulo, Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ), were taught in the deforestation techniques. “At the time, ESALQ taught on how we should cut down the Atlantic rainforest. They taught us the techniques of using the heavy chains which can tear down the trees”, he has recalled. The company itself believes they are an important actor when it comes to protection of the Atlantic rainforest. Today, the deforestation in Bahia is primarily due to the eucalyptus companies taking over the pastures, and therefore the animals move their grazing area to the remaining unaffected parts of the forest. Thus the cellulose industry still contributes to deforestation, but in a more subtle way. IBAMA, the Brazilian state’s institute for environment and renewable resources, accuses Veracel of deforestation, planting eucalyptus near protected areas and causing environmental damage by using chemicals. The district attorney in Eunápolis, João Alves da Silva, says that the company commits environmental crimes and that they sell illegal products. The research centre CEPEDES in Eunápolis has video evidence of how Veracel destroys the Atlantic rainforest.
VERACEL – OFFENCES AND DEFORESTATION Since 1991, Veracel has bought and received thousands of hectares of Atlantic rainforest. Today, the forest has gone from these areas. CEPEDES, a centre for development in the state of Bahia, has received many complaints that Veracel has taken away the logged rainforest. The Swedish organisation Swedwatch has documented that they have chopped down parts of the rainforest and Greenpeace have filmed this in action. Following on from this, Veracel has received millions of pounds worth of fines, and has been forced to replant the rainforest, and for a period, lost their license to plant eucalyptus. However, the authorities have not had enough resources to follow up on the replanting of the rainforest and it is unclear whether the company has even paid their fines28. 28. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose.
29. Fearnside, Causes of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. 30. Eraker, «Kringsatt av fiender». 31. Broers & Lecluyse, «Sustainable on paper»
VERACEL – OFFENCES AND LAND THEFT There is a law which states that Veracel can not plant on more than 15% of the land in coastal municipalities, and 20% of land in inland municipalities. In order to exceed the limit, Veracel exploits many loopholes in the law. Single people buy and in their own name and sign a contract with Veracel that the land will be used to grow eucalyptus for the company. Taking this into account, Veracel essentially owns 40% of the land in the municipality of Eunápolis24 24. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose.
Had it been known how they would operate, then Veracel’s eucalyptus plantations would never have been approved by the FSC, according to Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza from CEPEDES31. The deforestation contributes to global warming through releasing the greenhouse gas CO2 and water vapour into the atmosphere. The trees store carbon, which is part of CO2. The forest holds a lot of moisture, and the deforestation releases this moisture out into the air in the form of water vapour. This deforestation also means less water can evaporate and become rain in the local area. Therefore, it also decreases the water level in the rivers. PLANTATIONS, NOT FORESTS The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded in 1993 to protect the rainforest and other forested areas. FSC determines whether a given forestry is sustainable. The eucalyptus plantations were astonishingly approved by the FSC. A eucalyptus plantation should not be approved as a forest, and such a certification scheme cannot be a long-term solution. The companies gain the certifications by making themselves seem environmentally friendly but in reality the plantations are destructive for the plants, animals and people. Lars Løvold, a previous leader of the rainforest fund, has said to NRK that the eucalyptus plantations are the opposite of the forest, that they are completely lifeless. A forest is in fact somewhere where it is possible for plants and animals to live32. LANDSLIDES Tree and plant roots bind together the land, and prevent the land from being washed away by rain. According to the FAO, the eucalyptus tree is poor at holding together the earth compared to other types of tree33. The roots of eucalyptus go deep, so the top
– I remember when the enormous destruction began. They drove into our area with large machines mowing down the trees whilst the animals fled for their lives. They set fire to the forest. The smell of burnt animals spread to where we were standing. We tried to film but were stopped by hired men with pistols. Then we were able to film the destruction, the first video in the case against Veracel. It took 15 years to put the case together, but finally the company was convicted, and their licence to cultivate land was revoked. In 2011 the company obtained a new licence in the area. The verdict and what happens in practice are two very different things.
Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza, researcher with CEPEDES, a research centre for development in the region of Extremo Sul in Bahia.Bahia.
layer of soil is not properly kept in place. In the natural forest, the earth would have been bound together by the roots of the plants and shrubs. There are no other plants in a eucalyptus plantation. Furthermore, the waterways are changed, and important nutrients are removed from the soil. In the state of Minas Gerais, eucalyptus is also grown on a large scale. During our stay in Brazil, we were told how eucalyptus companies sign contracts with farmers who grow eucalyptus for them. That removes the need for the companies themselves to buy the land in Minas Gerais, a state full of mountains and steep slopes. When rain and other natural forces put strain on the soil, it is therefore the small farmers and not the companies who are held responsible34.
32. Eraker, «Kringsatt av fiender». 33. Poore & Fries, The ecological effects of eucalyptus, p. 21. 34. Conversation with Winfridus Overbeek, World Rainforest Movement.
THE GREEN DESERT
THE ATLANTIC RAINFOREST: BEAUTIFUL, THREATENED AND IMPORTAN CHRONICLE: LARS LØVOLD Lars Løvold is the director of the rainforest foundation. The rainforest fund work to ensure the conservation of the rainforest and to ensure human rights are met in 11 different areas containing rainforests, including Brazil.
If you have been to Brazil, chances are that you have been fascinated by the relaxed, meandering city of Rio de Janeiro, or you have had a shocking meeting with the countries undisputed economic and cultural centre, the congested city of São Paulo – there you can find anything you need, even if it takes a bit of time to find it. What you probably didn’t discover, was that it was only a short trip to find something completely different: lush green forests, secretive wildlife, step slopes with views of thick canopy with the sea in the distance. Both of these metropolises are built amongst one of Brazil’s most important natural habitats.
IT COULD COVER NORWAY FOUR TIMES (UK: SIX TIMES) Originally, the Atlantic rainforest stretched in a continuous belt from Brazil’s North-Eastern tip, down to the South where it ventured into Paraguay and Argentina. At this time, the forest could have covered Norway four times over. Today, Brazil has only around 7% of the original forest, approximately 100,000 square kilometres. The plundering of the forest began as early as the 1500’s when the trees’ reddish dyes were the main attraction for the Portuguese conquerors. The Brazil trees were so sought after that they almost became extinct, and at the same time gave the country its present name. Since then the forest has suffered blow after blow due to the same greed and short sightedness. Sugar plantations and minerals in the North, cattle and coffee further South, agriculture, urbanisation, roads, property speculation and eucalyptus plantations have become the main reasons for the drastic deforestation which has taken place in the Atlantic rainforest, the most endangered natural habitat in Brazil. ASTOUNDING DIVERSITY Despite the dramatic deforestation and disintegration which the Atlantic rainforest has been exposed to, it still contains an astounding amount of biological diversity. In the 1990’s, researchers from the botanic gardens in New York identified 456 species of tree in an area which measured 100 metres by 100 metres in Una, a reserve in the South of the state of Bahia. At the time it was a world record for the most species of trees in one hectare. In the whole of Norway we have a total of thirty odd species. There are over a thousand recorded species of birds, 264 species of mammals, 197 reptiles and 340 species of amphibians in the Atlantic rainforest. Not only is the diversity astounding in itself, but a large proportion of these are unique to the remaining patches of the rainforest. UNIQUE SPECIES The Atlantic rainforest evolved separately to the Amazon, and the many temperature zones and different altitudes of the forest belt has given rise to a series of different life forms. Over half of the tree species (55%) are only found in this forest – they are endemic, so to speak. The same applies to 39% of the mammals, and 120 of the bird species. Over half of the 340 amphibious species are unique to the Atlantic rainforest, and if we consider the plants, of the 23,000 species that we have discovered, 70% of the bromeliads and 63% of the palm trees are only found here. It is therefore not surprising that over half of all the endangered species in Brazil are located in the Atlantic rainforest. THE GLOBAL IMPORTANCE This means that to protect and defend what remains of the forest is extremely important, both nationally and internationally. In recent decades there has been a sharp rise in awareness of the importance of the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. A wide range of volunteer organisations, with the highly professional SOS Mata Atlântica which was formed in 1986 at the fore, have taken up the fight to rescue what remains, and there have been a number of public regulations and measures put in place in the states and at a municipal level. Now there are supposedly around 700 – but essentially fewer – protected areas in different categories, and in 2006 the president Lula da Silva signed a separate law on the Atlantic rainforest. However, this does not mean that the remaining Atlantic
NT rainforest is completely safe. There are still well known economic opportunities that go against the overall need to protect the species and ecosystem, in particular when local politicians or business people “only” want to build a new road, or create some luxurious holiday homes for the elite, or plant “just a bit more” eucalyptus. NECESSARY PROTECTION The big challenge is the ongoing oppression of the remaining rainforest. 83% of the remaining forest is found in fragments of less than half a kilometre squared, and so, even though we have over 700 public and private protected areas, these protected areas make up only around 2% of the original forest. A half of the endangered species of vertebrates are found outside these protected areas, and it is only really in two of the most intact and connected areas of the forest – “Serra do Mar” between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and “Corredor Central” in the state of Espírito Santo and the southern part of Bahia - that the strategy to connect the existing protected areas with pathways, called ecological corridors, has come a long way. It will require systematic efforts, wholeheartedness, replanting of a variety of local tree varieties and a strong political will to begin to stop both the legal and illegal destruction throughout the Atlantic rainforest so that its many distinct and endangered species will survive. In 2008 Carlos Minc, then environment minister, promised that the government would restore 20% of the original forest. This was a positive step, but even more encouraging results in the near future are still possible. The number of charismatic New World monkeys, in particular lion tamarins – which are only found in the Atlantic rainforest and of which three of the four types of species are endangered – are on the increase. Furthermore, the awareness of the forest’s importance, including to the water supply of Rio and São Paulo, is higher than ever before. Brazil has the chance and simply cannot afford to lose more of the Atlantic rainforest. Lars Løvold Director of the Rainforest Foundation
RARE: The Altlantic Rainforest in Mucuri, Bahia.
THE GREEN DESERT
PLANTATIONS DESTROY THE NATURE
DRIED UP: This river in the commune of Mucurí in Bahia is about to completely disappear due to drying up. The area is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations.
CHANGES IN WATER SUPPLY The eucalyptus trees grow fast, not only because they thrive in the tropical warmth. The trees have a fast rate of water consumption. The eucalyptus tree has long roots which can bury themselves more than seven metres down into the earth and grow at a rate of two and a half metres per year. (The roots stretch themselves far out beyond the plantation itself.) The young eucalyptus trees grow very quickly and have a high level of water consumption for their first ten years. Then the water consumption levels out. The organisation World Rainforest Movement claims that a 20 year old tree uses up 200 litres of water each day35,36. That is not especially much for a tree, but a large plantation takes up many, many litres of water each day. Thus, natural eucalyptus is not destructive, but the danger arises when monocultures are planted. Research by Duke University has found that 13% of rivers and streams in areas of eucalyptus plantations are completely dried up, and the average waterflow has been reduced by nearly 40%37. After 8-10 years a tree is harvested38. After harvest-
ing, eucalyptus cuttings are planted, and the growth cycle starts anew. When the timber is cut, it is shipped to the companies’ factories. To make the trees into pulp for export, the timber is cooked, washed, bleached and dried39. The prosses is very water intensive. For example, one cellulose company, Suzano, use 80,000 cubic litres of water a day in their factory in Mucurí in Bahia40. The cellulose giant, Veracel, uses 94,000 cubic litres from the river Jequitinhonha each day. By comparison, a city the size of Eunápolis in Bahia, which has 100,000 residents, uses “only” 6,000 cubic litres a day41. WATER SHORTAGES For the whole of the South of Bahia, rationing of water has become a part of everyday life. The water reservoirs for the local population have disappeared, and one of the causes is the eucalyptus industry’s total usage of the water sources. The law “Plano Diretor Urbano” ensures that eucalyptus plantations must be planted at least three kilometres away from water sources and urban areas42. In practice, wherever we went in the Extremo-Sul region, we saw that
35. Calder et al., Eucalyptus water use greater than rainfall input - a possible explanation from southern India, p. 253. 36. Carrere, «Presión creciente en Kenia contra los eucaliptos, descriptos como “chupadores de agua”». 37. Jackson et al., Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. 38. Nordal & Sunding, «Eukalyptus». 39. Suzano papel e celulose, «Suzano pulp and paper, Mucurí site». 40. Ivonete Gonçalves, «As transnacionais». 41. Gonçalves & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 83.
the law was not enforced. The plantations are found everywhere, regardless of whether rivers, lakes and springs are in the area. The most frequent answer we received when we asked what people thought of eucalyptus was “It sucks up so much water”. People who live near eucalyptus plantations suffer from a shortage of water. It is not a good existence to wait and wait for water which is never coming. DISREGARD OF HUMAN NEEDS FOR WATER A person should drink more than two litres of water each day43. But water shortages have consequences beyond drinking water. Think about it: what do you actually use water for each day? You shower in many litres of water, and flush even more down the toilet, not mentioning the use of water for food preparation and washing cups, dishes, the floor and clothes. A shortage of clean water is one of the main causes of the spread of diseases like diarrhoea, which take the lives of two million people a year44. The Association for International Water Studies (FIVAS) consider access to water and suitable sanitation as a human right45. When the cellulose producers Fibria, Suzano and Veracel take water from the local population, they are deprived of these basic rights. CONSEQUENCES OF THE DRYING UP During the period of our fieldwork, the people of Brazil were experiencing one of the worst droughts for 84 years46. In addition, when the eucalyptus plantations take up so much water, the landscape becomes even drier. The people we met in Bahia told us that they had never experienced a dry period as difficult as then. The drought can have fatal consequences for crops, livestock, wildlife and plants. When the crops die, it brings along hunger and poverty for the people who live on the cultivated land. Traditionally, the people of Bahia grow cassava, which has the same role in a diet as potatoes in Norway. It is nutritious and thrives in poor soil. During our fieldwork, the land was so dry and hard that it was sometimes impossible to pull up the roots out of the ground. So the local people lost and important source of nutrition, and the farmers and important source of income. A VICIOUS CYCLE In addition, any life in the rivers are dried up by the eucalyptus plantations. We met many fishermen who
-This is one area which Fibria has destroyed. This is what the company does. It is very difficult to look at. In the bed here, a river used to run. It has gone now. This is what the poison leaves behind. Everything is dead. This used to be a green area with trees and life. It was too near to the area of eucalyptus to survive. -When do you think the river will come back? -It will never come back.
Reginaldo Angola Dos Santos, a small Farmer in the MST settlement Rosa do Prado for 22 years.
VERACEL - LAW BREAKING AND CORRUPTION 15th February 2008 , in came a law which declared that eucalyptus must be planted at least ten kilometre from the town Eunápolis. The companies in the area must also make a map where they mark out all the areas in which they plant. That very same month, the law was uplifted after lobbying from the cellulose industry. The city council member Moacyr Almeida Silva recounted how Veracel offered him money to vote against the law. A number of other members met with Veracel. “Accidentally” each and every one of them voted against the law except Almeida Silva. Thus Brazil’s prosecutors and courts are corrupted by Veracel. Source: Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose.
reported a decrease in the amount and size of the fish in the fresh waters. Many Brazilians live on fish and fish has long been an important source of protein for them. When the fish disappear, the fishermen become unemployed and malnutrition becomes a problem in the communities along the riverbanks.
42. Ibid., p. 51. 43. UN communications «Rent drikkevann». 44. Ibid. 45. FIVAS, «Om Fivas». 46. Siza, «Seca histórica compromete abastecimento de água e luz no Brasil».
THE GREEN DESERT
On a societal level, the decrease in food production can lead to an increase in food prices. It was just the same as the effect we saw in East-Africa in 2011: with the drought, not only did famine come, but also and extreme rise in the price of maize. At the same time, the price of livestock fell, because milk production decreased. Thus, wages also fell47. The drought in the horn of Africa was more extreme, but exemplifies the vicious cycle which comes with drought, irrespective of where in the world it occurs. FIRE AND DESTRUCTION The drought which the eucalyptus plantations contribute to, also increase the danger of large forest fires. The leaves and bark of the eucalyptus tree contain a highly flammable oil48. For eucalyptus, fire is a part of life. On the island of Tasmania, where the trees grow naturally, regular forest fires are essential for the eucalyptus’ seed capsules to open themselves up. The inflammable oil encourages the fire so that the seeds can germinate themselves in fresh, nutritious ash, where the flames have cleared the area of competing species. Further, the fires drive out insects and other threatening animals for a short period49. But drought and the oil rich leaves are not a good combination where eucalyptus trees are not a natural part of the ecosystem. We saw evidence of fires all over where we were in the Extremo Sul region in Bahia. Driving along the roads, you are guaranteed
to pass by many ugly fires: small and large, in the forests, in plantations, in the fields and the buildings. The fires are very destructive for the population, wildlife and plants. In the drought periods, there isn’t even water to fight the fires. ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMICAL LOSS Crops, infrastructure and buildings burn down, and people’s lives can be lost. What will a family do when the year’s harvest of cassava is destroyed overnight? In Brazil, families can’t necessarily afford insurance which can cover any economic loss when catastrophe strikes. Important biological diversity was burnt in the national park of Monte Pascoal as a result of the large fires which hit Bahia in 2015. The indigenous Pataxó’s settlements were also hit by the fires50. When the Atlantic rainforest burns, it is easy for the cellulose companies to buy up previously protected areas of land and to plant eucalyptus on them. Whilst the areas of plantation grow, the range of the Atlantic rainforest decreases. The large fires in Bahia this year didn’t happen solely because of eucalyptus. Human driven climate change and the deforestation in the Amazon are key factors in the droughts51. The plantations’ high water usage and inflammable oils in the trees are reinforcing factors. FLAMMABLE: Both plantations and the areas around burn regularly.
47. Rodum, «Sultkatastrofe sprer seg på Afrikas horn». 48. Nordal & Sunding, «Eukalyptus». 49. National Forest Learning Center, «Eucalypts and Fire». 50. Radar 64, «Fogo devasta o parque nacional do Monte Pascoal». 51. Stauffer, «Drought ends in Brazil’s Sao Paulo but future still uncertain».
TOXIC PESTICIDES In the eucalyptus plantations there are clear signs of high usage of pesticides. One cannot find other plants, animals or insects. Farmers in the Southern hemisphere are increasingly exposed to the pesticides, many of which are banned in some European countries52. Today Brazil is the country which uses the most poison for its farming53. When the eucalyptus trees are newly planted cuttings, they are competing with other plants for water and nutrients. In this period of growth, the companies feel it is necessary to spray and artificially irrigate their eucalyptus. The trees which might be attacked by, for example, termites, would end up useless for cellulose production. Many pesticides are used, such as Mirex, Stout and sulfluramid. But the one which is most often used is glyphosate, the active substance in Roundup. You can find Roundup in most garden shops and supermarkets, and maybe in your own garage or shed. The product is produced by the controversial agriculture company Monsanto, and has created a fuss in the media in recent years. In cases of long term use, Roundup damages wildlife and the local ecosystem54. The local population’s name for Roundup is “Mata Mato”, which directly translates to “weed killer”. It says a good deal about the pesticide’s strong and destructive effect. REDUCED EARTH AND WATER QUALITY Glyphosate has been proven harmful for quality of soil and organisms which liv in the soil, such as earthworms55,56. Earthworms convert old material in the earth to new nutrients. Should such organisms disappear, it will significantly affect soil quality. If there are no decomposers to break down the foliage
created by the eucalyptus, the ground will remain shaded. New life clearly cannot sprout. When poisons like glyphosate do not decompose, it will gather together in increasing concentrations in the soil. According to the local people, it is nigh on impossible to cultivate the earth where there had previously been eucalyptus. This is because of the poison, lack of nutrients, and the enormous, long reaching roots
– Can you see how the grass is yellowish brown? That is due to the pesticides which were carried on the wind when the planes were spraying the eucalyptus. Thus it affects a large area outside the plantation itself. The pesticides bring about many illnesses. They poison our food. They are killing everything. Now it is very dry, but when the rain finally comes it mixes in with the poison and carries it down into the river. The river where we used to fish. Today the fish have been eradicated.
Altiane Blandino lives in the quilombo São Domingos in the state Espirito Santo, an area where Fibria and Suzano have plantations.
- Roundup is one of the highest selling pesticides in Norway1. - According to research by the university of Tromsø, glyphosate can be 300 times more poisonous that previously thought2. - Monsanto was convicted in the French courts for wilfully lying in stating that the glyphosate in Roundup is biodegradable. Today, Roundup has been banned for use in France and the Netherlands3. - In 2015, Roundup was band from use in Norwegian playgrounds4. - Traces of glyphosate can be found in the urine of people from all over Europe5. - Monsanto has another brand name called Roundup Ready. Seeds under the brand Roundup Ready are genetically modified to resist the poison of Roundup6. - The eucalyptus company Veracel alone uses from three to five times as much glyphosate per year than the whole of Sweden’s forestry7. 1 Holten, «Glyfosat - Verdens mest solgte sprøytemiddel». 2. Fredrikstad & Lian, «Verdens mest brukte ugressmiddel kan være opptil 300 ganger giftere enn antatt».3. Nordtug, «Glyfosatforbud i Nederland». 4. Fredrikstad og Lian, «Verdens mest brukte ugressmiddel kan være opptil 300 ganger giftere enn antatt». 5. Friends of the Earth Europe, The environmental impacts of glyphosate, p. 3. 6. Monsanto, «Agricultural Seeds». 7. Andersson & Bartholdson, Swedish pulp in Brazil, p. 106. 52. Wesseling et al., Agricultural Pesticide Use in Developing Countries. 53. Overbeek et al., An overview of industrial tree plantations in the global South, p. 28. 54. Köhler & Triebskorn, Wildlife Ecotoxicology of Pesticides, p. 761.
THE GREEN DESERT
which remain after a tree has been felled. Today, there are many places where glyphosate can be found in the groundwater and rivers57. When the rain comes, what remains of the poison is dissolved in the rainwater. From there it is carried down into the rivers or drawn into the soil and groundwater58. Thus the glyphosate is also found in the drinking water. What little water remains in the dry landscape around the eucalyptus plantations is poisoned.
– Do you see the white stuff in the water? Do you know what that bad smell is? That is Roundup and pesticides which are polluting the water. Before, we could fish in the river, but now it is devoid of fish. The eucalyptus companies Fibria and Suzano say they have conservation areas on the sides of their eucalyptus plantations, but can you hear a sound here? You cannot hear anything, because the animals which drink the water and eat the plants are dead. The companies have so-called conservation areas to make themselves look good.
Elivaldo da Silva Costa, a small Farmer in the MST settlement of Rosa do Prado in Extremo Sul in Bahia. VERACEL – OFFENCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT Not only have Veracel cut down much of the rainforest, the have also destroyed that which is still there. Previously, Veracel claimed that their paper was produced without using chlorine. In 2003, however, chlorine was found in the waste from their factories. Veracel has been fined on several occasions for using pesticides where they are forbidden. The company has also been fined for poisoning protected rainforest areas. In 2007, the company was convicted of poisoning the Santa Cruz river in Bahia with glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. This river supplies many towns and cities with water. Since the Brazilian legislation came in, eucalyptus can no longer be planted within 10 kilometres of the national parks. In spite of that, Veracel’s eucalyptus can be found within this distance of the national parks of Parque do Descobrimento, Monte Pascoal and Pau Brasil in Extremo Sul. Following the Plano Diretor Urbano law, eucalyptus also cannot be planted within 3 kilometres of the rivers, lakes and some other inhabited areas. In Extremo Sul, few eucalyptus companies actually respect this law. Source: Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose.
SPRAYING BY PLANE At some of the plantations, planes are used to drop the pesticides on the trees. The practice is forbidden in countries like Denmark, Estonia and Slovenia59. The poisons which are released from the planes are carried far outside the area of the plantation by the wind. Using this method, the companies use of pesticides not only affects the plantations, but also the local population. Many people we met in the surrounding communities of the eucalyptus monocultures, told us how their drinking water, soil and air was poisoned by the planes. POISONED FOOD The eucalyptus grows in the country, often next to other farms or small producers. The food there can be poisoned by the pesticide planes. In Brazil, there are many social working class movements and indigenous groups which zealously fight in favour of organic farming. They fight not only to protect the people who will eat the food, but also the people who grow it. The use of pesticides is harmful at both ends of the production chain, not only on the dinner table60. Amongst the farmers and the native population in the neighbourhood of the eucalyptus plantations, the resistance is strong. Many small farmers near the eucalyptus plantations told of how the number of pests had risen since the plantations appeared. When livelihoods disappear because of the poison and the dominant eucalyptus, the animals, insects and birds must move to a different place. In this case, an organic farm is perfect for them. The local people describe how many grasshoppers, snails and butterfly larvae had made the move. The insects went from the sterile eucalyptus plantations and settled themselves in the local population’s farms and meadows. 55. Zaller et al., Glyphosate herbicide affects belowground interactions between earthworms and symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi in a model ecosystem. 56. Gaupp-Berghausen et al., Glyphosate-based herbicides reduce the activity and reproduction of earthworms and lead to increased soil nutrient concentrations. 57. Ho & Sirinathsinghji, «GM Crops and Water». 58. Friends of the Earth Europe, The environmental impacts of glyphosate, p. 5. 59. PAN Europe, «PAN Europe’s position on aerial spraying», p. 1.
A FREE PASS FOR GM TREES OPENING FOR GENETICALLY MODIFIED EUCALYPTUS Even using the most effective type of tree is not enough for the cellulose industry. For many years the industry has worked to develop a genetically modified variant of the eucalyptus tree. On 9th April 2015, Suzano’s subsidiary company FuturaGene attained official permission from the Brazilian National Technical Commission on Biosafety to use it genetically modified variant of the eucalyptus called Evento H42161. It is, as of today, only Suzano who want to use genetically modified eucalyptus. Whether the other eucalyptus companies want to use the genetically modified tree, only time will tell. Evento H421 is about 20% more productive than the original tree, and can therefore be chopped down after a shorter time than the usual eight year cycle. The fibre is the same and the density is also similar to the eucalyptus which is normally used. The company themselves call this a climate benefit, because the rapid growth of the new species means more CO2 is taken up in a shorter time period62. On the other hand, the locals call it a catastrophe. The fear that water and nutrients in the soil will disappear even more quickly. THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ARE CRITICAL A short time after the permission was publicised, the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection (IDEC) launched a petition for the permission to be rescinded. The campaign was signed by 39 organisations and institutions63. IDEC believe the risk is large in introducing the genetically modified tree to the natural forest where the implications of a genetically modified
species can prove to be catastrophic for the ecosystem. The crossbreeds with other eucalyptus types can bring about unexpected consequences, and IDEC believe that the implications of the modifications are not sufficiently well researched. Furthermore, the genetically modified eucalyptus contains the gene nptll, which in turn contains an enzyme which creates resistance to many types of antibiotics. THE DANGER FOR HONEY PRODUCTION The genetically modified eucalyptus also presents a danger for around 500,000 honey producers in Brazil. Their bees live on the nectar from eucalyptus and around 1% of the honey comes from pollen. Through the pollen, the genetically modified DNA is spread from the eucalyptus into the honey. It goes beyond the quality of the honey, the consumer safety and thus the future of birch trees. Through the honey, the enzyme which causes resistance to antibiotics could also spread, and there is the possibility of it being transferred to other organisms. Brazil is the world’s tenth largest honey producer and exports around a half of its produce. THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE ARGUMENT Over 100,000 people signed a protest letter against the permission and the coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement, Winnie Overbeek, believes the decision to give the go-ahead is illegal. He claims that it breaks the precautionary principle, because there is not enough knowledge of the consequences. Overbeek points out that Brazil has ratified the UN’s convention on biological diversity, and that the country, by allowing genetically modified eucalyptus, goes against this64.
ATTEMPT TO REPLANT THE FOREST All the cellulose companies are forced to plant new trees in the areas around their plantations. This should increase the biological diversity. For example, Fibria tries to recreate the forest in areas which it destroyed with eucalyptus. Different companies plant the trees on behalf of the eucalyptus companies. An example is GF Forestry Services, where Alexandro Lima works. He explains how they want to preserve the water sources and to increase the nutrient content of the land around the plantations. In Bahia, they call this the APP project, that is “Area Produção Premanente”, or “Permanently Protected Area”. The cuttings put into the soil are largely guava, chestnut, cashew, jackfruit and the arara nut-tree known as boleira. These trees give fruit which are of economic worth. The smallholding owner Liva Da Costa believes these attempts are in vain. Da Costa says that the companies plant some hundreds of these types of Atlantic trees compared to a trillion eucalyptus trees. GF Forestry Services plant 1111 natural forest cuttings per 10,000 hectares of eucalyptus. Liva Da Costa tells of how the cuttings are sprayed with chemicals before they even see the soil so that they can survive the dry, poisoned earth in the neighbourhood of the plantation. Nevertheless, the pesticide planes or a forest fire will kill them before they can grow to be large, he believes. 60. Rola, A. C., «Pesticides, health risks and farm productivity». 61. GETREES, «Brazil govt approves GMO eucalyptus trees». 62. FuturaGene, «Biosseguranca do Eucalipto Geneticamente Modificado H421», p. 3. 63. IDEC, «MEL BRASILEIRO EM RISCO!», p. 4-5. 64. The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, «Brazil govt approves GMO eucalyptus trees».
THE GREEN DESERT
DEVELOPMENT – FOR WHOM?
– The money they earn benefits people outside, and I don’t only mean outside the quilombola community, our village, but outside Brazil, our country. But we thought the opposite would happen. Therefore we gave the eucalyptus companies a good welcome.
Andréia Alves Marques is a quilombola and lives in the quilombo Vila Juazeiro, a neighbour of the large plantations of Fibria.
– For seven years I worked with the eucalyptus trees for Suzano. – What were your working conditions like? – Not good. I get up early, come home late, and earned very little. At the time it was my only possibility. The industry doesn’t employ as many as the settlement, and only creates jobs when the trees are to be felled. The best opportunity was to change jobs. Here I work in better conditions, and have more rights and more freedom.
Marco Aurelio lives in the MST-settlement Bela Manhã, a property which was previously owned by a eucalyptus company.
The jobs and local economic growth has traditionally been linked with eucalyptus production. Thus the eucalyptus companies repeatedly received support from the Brazilian development bank BNDES65. Researchers are critical however of how many jobs and how much development the eucalyptus companies bring in for the local community. In a research project in 2007, carried out in Eunápolis, Bahia, researchers from the University of São Paulo found that Veracel´s actions in the area resulted in an exacerbation of the population’s living conditions. Before they set up in the area, they claimed that they would create 20,000 new jobs, but nowhere near that many have been made. Thus people moved back to the city, and a returned to being a poor class in the society. Further, the land distribution in the region became even more skewed than before, because of Veracel’s large acquisitions66. In 2008, Veracel bought 40% of the land in the commune67. FEW JOBS Eucalyptus is an industry which employs few people on the plantations. For timber transport, they hire in independent companies, but during the growth period of around eight years, little work is needed, except for the spreading of herbicides and fertilizers68. This work can be done manually, but if you run a large company, it is done with planes. Veracel, it was calculated in 2003, only offered one job per 156 hectares of land69. In order to create job security, the Brazilian supreme court of labour decreed that the core work cannot be outsourced to other companies70. Nevertheless, the eucalyptus giant Suzano reported in 2016 that they employ around 8,000 of their own employers and 11,000 through third parties. These 19,000 employees are spread over more than a million hectares of land71.
65. BNDES. 66. Joly, Insertion of the spatial productive circuit of cellulose in Eunápolis, Bahia State, Brazil. 67. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 46. 68. Repórter Brasil, Deserto Verde. 69. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose, p. 68.
VERACEL – OFFENSES AND WORKING CONDITIONS In 2008, Veracel were involved in a total of 863 issues with Brazil’s labour laws. An enormous amount of the employees have suffered strain injuries caused by repetitive work. Therefore they can no longer effectively work, and have been fired by the company. The lion’s share of those who work for Veracel, are indirectly employed or temporary employees where the conditions are often poor, to the point where people have died72. FLIGHT TO THE CITIES Thus, as discussed, the production of eucalyptus does not create jobs in the rural areas. It also contributes to urbanisation. The people who previously worked on the plantations or cattle farms in the area, must look to the cities to find work. The urbanisation is far from something of a new phenomenon in Brazil. In 1940, 31% of people lived in cities. 70 years later a whole 84% of people were residents in cities73. A 30 year old city such as Teixeira de Freitas in Extremo Sul has today 157,804 residents. The urban growth has in other words, been so explosive that an area which three decades ago was forest land, today is home to nearly 160,000 people74. URBAN POVERTY The enormous, and in parts uncontrolled growth in Brazilian cities has been, and is still, painful. People end up constructing their own residential areas on the state’s land, far out from the city centre. These are called favelas, and often lack basic infrastructure such as public transport, water, sewage and electricity. Schools, health and emergency services are often poor, or absent. A lack of jobs with a salary on which you could live, result often in sky high crime rates. Thus the stigmatism of the residents is amplified, and the inequalities remain large. The emigration from the villages, in turn provokes a number of changes in the local community, such as centralisation of schools and health services. Therefore it is difficult to live in the rural areas, and the temptation to look towards a city becomes ever greater. 70. Repórter Brasil, Deserto Verde. 71. Suzano, «Quem Somos». 72. Souza & Overbeek, Responsible for socio-environmental violations: Veracel Celulose, a company owned by Stora Enso and Aracruz Celulose. 73. Gobbi, «Urbanização brasileira». 74. IBGE, «Teixeira de Freitas».
– When I came home each evening, I was so tired that I could not go to school. Today, I can spell my name, thank God for that. All the day, from four in the morning to seven in the evening, I was out planting eucalyptus and we had only one hour break in the middle of the day. – How was the work? – Much of the work consisted of carrying heavy sacks full of eucalyptus cuttings on our shoulders. Now, 38 years later, I have a large pain in my upper arm. It keeps me awake at night. I only stopped working when I was four months on my way with my youngest son, because of a large pain in my stomach. I suffered a lot.
Carmelina Lima dos Santos lives in the MST-settlement Bela Manhã, a property which was previously owned by a eucalyptus company.
– There is only one solution: get rid of the eucalyptus. Before the eucalyptus field there were 400 people here. The farmer who owned the field had work for many of them. Now only one person can work here. Machines do everything. The people all left for the cities, ending up on the street. There is a large problem with drugs, alcohol, prostitution and theft.
Ailton Nunes Ferras, a small farmer in the MST-settlement Rosa do Prado in Extremo Sul, Bahia.
THE GREEN DESERT
Illustration by Eiril Linge.
NORWAY AND EUCALYPTUS ERLING, THE PRINCESS AND THE MAGICAL EUCALYPTUS TREE Once upon a time, there was a resistance fighter by the name of Erling Lorentzen. He came from a family of traders and businessmen. His father was a ship owner, like his father before him, and his mother was the ship owner’s wife. Erling was an intrepid guy, so stubborn but full of courage. He fought for his country and against an antidemocratic, suppressive and authoritarian occupier. He excelled himself in such a way that he was rewarded for his heroism with precious medals and the huge, flattering honour of escorting the royal family when they finally came back to their homeland. A long story short, Erling won the princess, but he didn’t get half the kingdom. But then, it is only after that, when the important events began. In order to celebrate love and marriage, Erling and the princess Ragnhild decided to travel far and distant, and more distant than far, to the other side of the world. They ended up under the equator, where winter is summer and summer is winter, where cold is not actually so cold, where the coffee was sweet, meat tender, and fruit hung in clusters from each and every tree, yes, really a place where everyone could be successful. They came to an important land, so large in its extent from the South to the North, from East to West, with endless possibilities and untouched earth. Here there was gold, and green forest as far as the eye could see. For Erling, who is the hero of this story, there was the possibility to create a great wealth for himself and all others who should wish to take part in this tremendous development in this “new world”. First Erling began with shipping like his father before him, and his father before him, and not much more is needed to be said than that. Then Erling moved into gas. Brasgas, Superbrasgás, and not much more is needed to be said than that here either. But then Erling began with cellulose and wood pulp which is used to make paper. From Australia they brought a tree which grew quicker than a beanstalk. This great country, Brazil, had a soil so rich in nutrients, a climate so generous, and a rainforest which supported the watering of the magical Australian eucalyptus tree. Yes, everything was right, and the future, it was eucalyptus and cellulose. This was the way to finally help Erling get his half of a kingdom, or at least enough shillings to buy one. With the help of the nice military dictator, who provided enough money to Erling so that he could build a factory by the name Aracruz, so fantastic that one could almost not believe it was possible. A factory which could turn the magic eucalyptus into newspapers, magazines and toilet paper. But it was not only the military men who were nice to Erling. He was also friends with the generous indigenous people who lived in the wonderful and beautiful rainforest which would be home to Erling and his factory. The forest is the forest, they said, and Australian trees are welcome. The farmers also helped, and with broad smiles on their sun-kissed faces, they wished both Erling and his jobs a merry welcome. They were all in agreement that a life in the city, far away from their boring and exhausting soil, yes, that was a life so good that they could only dream of it. And thanks to all his friends, Erling got funds, labour and land for a good price, for sure he had a good dose of business acumen did Erling. That meant everything was good, because he could grow as many eucalyptus trees as he could manage. But the adventure is not finished. Erling got older and sought to return home to his dear fatherland, so he sold himself out, packed his bags and headed home. Here he could tell his friends in the Oil Fund of the possibilities to make money out of eucalyptus. The Oil Fund bought into him, and day by day, we, in Norway, are still going strong thanks to that fast growing, water sucking, pesticide drenched eucalyptus, which sprouts up over a ferocious area, whilst the number of jobs are yet to begin growing in the same vein. But what does it matter if the Oil Fund and Norwegians are growing bigger and better?
THE GREEN DESERT
EUCALYPTUS USE IN CONSUMABLES PAPER CONSUMPTION In 2013, each EU and North American resident used 156 and 221 kilos of paper respectively. The same statistic for Latin-American resident was only 47 kilos of paper75. With evermore electronics in both school and the workplace, one would have thought that the paper consumption would have decreased significantly. Globally, the level of paper consumption has held fairly steady76. In a single use society we must demand to know the origin and contents in everything we consume, not just what we eat. Our enormous paper usage should come down, irrespective of what it is made from.
IMPORTANCE OF CONSUMER POWER Each time you put something in your shopping basket, you make the product a little more popular and increase the demand for it a little bit more. Every purchase is a voice, and in the shop you can cast your vote more than just every four years when the polling station opens. We have seen before that people can mobilise themselves to boycott products and to make demands of the producer. Kvikk Lunsj (a Norwegian Kit Kat-like snack), Smash (a chocolate corn snack) and Nugatti (a chocolate spread) no longer contain palm oil and the brand Prior feed their chicken less narasin. NOT ENOUGH TRANSPARENCY It is difficult to find out which products contain pulp from eucalyptus. Paper products are not required to specify a list of ingredients in the same way as food products. There is not much information on companies’ websites about where their paper or paper-based products originate. The companies we have followed in this report make only a few products themselves. Rather, they sell the pulp to other manufacturers who make the products we see in the shops. Different manufacturers, suppliers, sales contacts and consumer contacts either can not say where their paper products come from, or are not willing to give up the information. TYPES OF PRODUCTS There is a lack of information on which products
contain eucalyptus paper on the Norwegian shelves. However, Fibria states in one of their reports the type of products in which their cellulose is used. 51% of Fibria’s cellulose goes to various paper wipes such as serviettes, toilet paper, tissues and kitchen towels. 31% goes to writing paper for printing, books, envelopes, magazines, leaflets and office products. 18% goes for finer paper, used for decoration, wrapping paper, receipts and photo paper77. CELLULOSE PRODUCTS WITH EUCALYPTUS According to Processo de Articulação e Diálogo, a network for organisations that work with development and people’s rights, cellulose from Fibria is used by Kimberly-Clark, Proctor & Gamble and Felix Schoeller. The German company Felix Schoeller uses eucalyptus to make photo paper for many companies, not least Kodak. The report also states that the Finnish company MetsäBoard, the company behind the toilet paper “Lambi”, uses Brazilian cellulose, but it is unsure in which products78. Proctor & Gamble, the company who own the brand Always, the tampon brand Tampax and Pampers nappies, we do not know if these products contain eucalyptus. Aracruz, the predecessor to Fibria, was the supplier of eucalyptus cellulose to the British American Tobacco Company79. This company sells the cigarettes Lucky Strike and Kent in Norwegian shops. The British American Tobacco Company would not speak about their suppliers so it is not known if Fibria are still supplying the cigarette manufacturer with cellulose since Erling Lorentzen sold the company. The Irish paper and packaging producer, Smurfit Kappa, uses eucalyptus in a variety of products80. By the end of 2015, Smurfit Kappa was the company that the Oil Fund had the largest stake in, at 9.2%81.
75. SkogsIndustrierna, «Per capita paper consumption». 76. Statista, «Consumption of paper and cardboard worldwide from 2006 to 2012». 77. Fibria, A new look to the future, p. 59. 78. Silvestre & Rodriguez, Eucalyptus/Aracruz Celulose and human rights violations, p. 11. 79. Personal communication with Erling Lorentzen. 80. Smurfit Kappa, «Paper». 81. Norges Bank Investment Management, Årsrapport/2015, p. 35.
CALL TO THE PEOPLE
- Choose products which do not contain eucalyptus. - Demand information on the contents and origin of all goods. - Be more conscious in your choice of cellulose products. - Buy products made in Norway or recycled wood. ON NORWEGIAN INVESTMENTS - Add your signature to the fight for the divestment of the Oil fund in eucalyptus. - Join in the debate on how we should invest our money. - Add yourself to the Latin-American group or another organisation which works for a fairer world.
CLEARING THE FOREST: The trees grow for around eight years before they are cut down.
THE GREEN DESERT
TO SPEAK TO A TREE The autumn of 1993, it was maybe warm, maybe cold, I don’t know. I was seven years old and occupied with knights, Lego, CHRONICLE: JENS KIHL and learning new knots. Each Sunday, we go for a walk to Ullevålseter in Nordmarka. It is quite nice, because both Mother and Father are here, even if they have not been together for many years. On a small patch of a harvested field, there Jens Kihl is a political jourstands a little spruce. I think I remember my father saying that nalist for Klassekampen. this will be my tree. I do not own so many things at this point, so I feel big now that I have a whole tree. I know that one day the little tree, which really is no more than a bush, will be much bigger than me. But I continue to be the big one. Each time we go for a walk, I go around the path by this spruce. You should look after a tree when you own one. Autumn 2009 is warm in New York. Rather, it may be that it is not especially warm, but for a Norwegian, it is fun to be able to go out in a t-shirt in October. I have a memory of walking along a red hot tram track, but it is surely just something I have seen in the movies. I didn’t find any trams in New York. In the streets everything looks like magic. Inside the UN building, it looks more like Blindern – the campus at the University of Oslo - in the canteen in the basement, one can buy food from all five continents of the world. But in reality, it is just spinach served five different ways. And whatever button I press, I get washing up water out of the coffee machine. On the swanky upper floors, everyone works on all the different committees of the UN general assembly. One afternoon, we are visiting the fourth committee, which amongst other things handles decolonization issues. It affects you to hear the stories of different groups of people who consider themselves colonialized. However, it must be noted that there are fewer colonies in the world today than 70 years ago. Progress is being made. This is possibly bad news for those that are still in colonies; the UN is focusing on other these days. It is in this context, the indigenous people of Guam find themselves in a town on the flight path of one of the enormous, American, military bases. Also the people of the Sahara find the Western-Sahara becoming a country full of many Moroccan settlers, and where the natural resources find themselves in the hands of foreigners, not least Norwegians. Such questions are posed by representatives who will surely need to return time after time. Many come clothed in their national dress (a tip: if you want the UN to prioritise work to free your country, don’t come to the UN in your national dress – especially if your national dress is a bast skirt). These cases are probably nearly unsolvable. But in a way they are also straightforward: it is very obvious who is on the same side. Everyone understands what they want. It is possible to negotiate. That is not always the case. We will come back to that. Years have passed, but the tree at Nordmarka still stands. Now it is enormous. We look after our tree. In Palestine, there is some of the worst terrorism which is occurring, with the Israelis tearing up the Palestinian olive trees by the roots. Why is it so bad? Because an olive tree can be many, many hundreds of years old, but it takes many decades before it has olives on it. The tree can have been in a family for generations. But if you tear it down, the pensions of those who own it are taken away too. The tree should remain there. Think of the mythical tree of Yggdrasil. Think of the Royal Birch in Molde. Think of the Christmas tree that Norway sends to London as a thank you for the help during the war. Actually, think of whatever tree you want. And so, it is not so easy. For what happens when those who plant the trees are not the happy tree elves in Valdres, but instead a multinational group in the city who drive out the local people? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions. Possibly everything is turned on its head: They, or maybe we, as much as we may be labelled tree huggers, go into the cities to fight against these eucalyptus trees. Trees are a problem in themselves, but they stretch themselves out in front of a sea of larger problems. Who is responsible? Who is it that must clean up their act? How badly must the Norwegian influence abroad get, before this is addressed? In one way or another, we have this idea that Norwegian companies are nice, simply because they are Norwegian. And there are a lot of good things about Norway, but only in spite of others’ gain. From Småbrukarlaget have I learned that, by printing on one side of paper, I contribute to the large Norwegian paper industry (but I do print out on both sides of paper). Couldn’t the Norwegians in foreign countries move home and open plantations, of say, Christmas trees? You can only colonise on foreign shores. Here the legislation is relatively clear. Here, where it is unimaginable to damage the lives of the local people. This should be a win-win situation: local people get an okay daily life, and our prominent entrepreneurs have the possibility to carry out ethical operations. Something tells me this will not happen. But one can hope. In the meantime, I will go for a walk to my tree.
THE STATE AND OIL FUND’S ROLE
In the 1960’s, the Norwegian oil adventure started. Some of the largest oil fields ever found at sea, lie in the North Sea. The government declared sovereignty over the Norwegian continental shelf and declared its right to give permission for exploration and extraction of the oil. No foreign, multinational companies would come and help themselves to Norway’s natural resources without concession. Thus they preserved the Norwegian sovereignty over the oil, to ensure that the Norwegian discovery would benefit all the Norwegian people82. There is wide agreement in Norway that it is a good method for managing our oil resources. It is used as a good example, often in contrast to how
Illustration by Filipe Fernandes
other countries with large oil reservoirs have chosen to manage their resources. The welfare state and the infrastructure in our country is build on the income we secured from the oil.
THE STATE’S PENSION FUND ABROAD The state’s pension fund abroad was established in 1990. It was established to manage the money which was earned in the oil sector – and to be able to use it in the state’s budget. The main aim of the fund is to get the largest possible return with the lowest possible risk. An important principle is the fiscal rule83. This says that only four percent of the return, and not
Table 2: Norwegian krone invested an percentage of ownership in the companies Fibria, Suzano and Stora Enso in 2015. 82. Regjeringen, «Norsk oljehistorie på 5 minutter». 83. Garvik, «Handlingsregelen».
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of the fund’s capital itself, will be used. The Norwegian people own the fund which is supposed to take care of future generations’ interests. Therefore it is important that the money is properly managed today. It is the Norges Bank Investment Management who manage the fund on behalf of the finance department. The finance department remains as the formal owner of the fund and administrates it on behalf of the Norwegian people84. When the Oil fund invests in a company, they buy part of the company. Thus we become co-owners, earn money on the business that the company operates and can vote in the general meetings. If we invest in a gold mine, revenue from the gold mine with fund our education, hospital bills and pensions. The oil fund invests exclusively in foreign companies. This is because the kind of sums that the fund deals with are so enormous that the Norwegian economy is
too small to cope with such fortunes. The oil fund is the world’s largest state fund and had, in March 2016, a market worth of over 7 billion krone. The fund has investments in over 9,000 companies, as well as securities and properties throughout the world85. THE INVESTMENTS IN EUCALYPTUS COMPANIES A range of large companies have invested in production of eucalyptus in Brazil. The Oil fund has shares in the cellulose companies Suzano and Fibria and the joint undertaking Stora Enso. From the table, one can see that the Oil fund has directly invested over 412 million krone in the industry through the companies Suzano and Fibria, and over three billion krone in Stora Enso86. THE ETHICS COUNCIL The Oil fun is considered the world’s most ethical and
EXPORT: The harbour of what was formerly Aracruz cellulose, now Fibria.
84. Norges Bank Investment Management, «Om oljefondet». 85. Ibid. 86. Norges Bank Investment Management, «Beholdninger». 87. Council on Ethics, «Hjem». 88. Lovdata, «Retningslinjer for Statens pensjonsfond utland om observasjon og utelukkelse». 89. Ibid.
transparent fund. It is, in addition, the only state fund with an independent body which confirms that all investments are ethically viable. This body is called the Ethics Council and comprises of five people. In addition, they have a secretariat of seven people. Together, they must ensure that all the investments are in keeping with the fund’s ethical regulations87. Therefore, if the council thinks that a company is breaking the regulations, they recommend the Norges Bank to pull the investments. The proposal is advisory. In many cases where the Oil fund has been accused of having investments in unethical companies, the Norges Bank has claimed that by being actively engaged with the company through dialogue and voting in the general meetings, they can have a positive influence on the companies. We do not have voting rights in the company Suzano, so we have little influence there. Therefore, a recommendation to withdraw investments from a company does not necessarily lead to such action against companies which contravene human rights and destroy the environment. A company will only be scrutinised by the Ethics Council when the Oil fund invests in it. Thus the Ethics Council has no influence on which companies the Oil fund chooses for investment, but they can suggest that the Oil fund withdraws its investments from a company, or that a given company must be scrutinised. It is not a binding objective for the Storting, that the Oil fund is used as an instrument to make the world a more peaceful place with better conditions for all. The Oil funds main aim is, as mentioned, to earn the most money possible for the Norwegian people. ETHICAL GUIDELINES The Storting (Norwegian parliament) has adopted laws which act as guidelines for the Oil fund’s investments. The laws were last modified in February 2016 in conjunction with the parliament’s resolution to stop investments in companies with their main revenue coming from coal88. The regulations for observing and excluding companies from the Oil fund comprises of two paragraphs, including criteria for when to exclude a company. Paragraph 2 defines which products we can not earn money from through the investments, for example tobacco, cluster weapons and coal. Paragraph 3 defines types of behaviour the oil fund can not contribute to through its investments.
PARAGRAPH THREE a) Gross or systematic violations of human rights such as murder, torture, slavery, forced labour, the worst form of child labour. b) Serious violations of individuals’ rights in war or conflict situations. c) Serious environmental damage. d) Actions, or lack of, which lead to an unacceptable level of omissions when aggregated across the whole company. e) Serious corruption. f) Other particularly grave breaches of basic ethical standards. An elaboration of what is meant by point c) serious environmental damage, can be found in the Ethics Council’s earlier investigation of companies. In the previous assessment of whether to withdraw from the palm oil company PT Astra International Tbk, the Ethics Council considered whether: - The damage is large, - The damage results in irreversible or long-term effects, - The damage has large negative consequences for people’s lives and health, - The damage is a result of violations of national laws or international conventions, - The company has failed to act to prevent the damage, - The company has put into place measures to correct the damage to a sufficient extent, - It is possible that the company’s unacceptable practice will continue. Source: Etikkrådet “Tilrådning om utelukkelse av PT Astra International Tbk fra investeringsuniverset til Statens pensjonsfond utland”.
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CONTRIBUTING TO SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE
A HORIZON OF EUCALYPTUS: The cacique, or chief, in the Pataxó village of Mucugê looking out over the surrounding plantations..
The Oil fund contributes to serious environmental damage with its investments in Brazil. The eucalyptus companies in Extremo Sul have converted the Atlantic rainforest to monocultures without ecological value. This unique biological diversity is reduced, and many of IUCN’s red list species are in danger of becoming extinct. When the Oil fund invests in the cellulose companies Suzano, Fibria and Veracel through Stora Enso, it contributes to very serious environmental damage. The destruction is vast and causes longterm and irreversible degradation of the ecosystem in the region. The deforestation and destruction of the tropical forest is a global issue, a problem Norway should work actively to improve rather than investing in it. It is also worth mentioning that limiting the access to water causes local change in the hydrological cycle, leading to drying out and fires, which have enormous environmental consequences. The widespread use of pesticides by the eucalyptus companies pollutes the soil and the water, and further affects the nature and people’s health. The joint undertaking Veracel, owned by Fibria and Stora Enso, has on many occasions committed environmental crimes. The company has broken Brazilian legislation by poisoning ground water and planting
eucalyptus outside specified areas, that is, too close to water sources and national parks. We demand that our money is taken out of the cellulose companies Suzano, Fibria and Veracel through the investments in Stora Enso, which all contribute to evident serious destruction of the environment. The Oil fund contributes to the violations of human rights and violates its international obligations through its investments in Brazil. NORWAY’S VIOLATIONS IN BRAZIL In the areas where the companies commit deforestation for eucalyptus plantations, there lives two different indigenous groups, Pataxó and Tupinambá, as well as several quilombola communities. These groups are protected by the International Labour Organisation´s (ILO) convention 169 on indigenous and tribal people in independent countries which both Norway and Brazil have signed and ratified and therefore it is included in Brazil´s national laws91. The companies grow large monocultural plantations on the indigenous people’s traditional areas. The eucalyptus industry destroys the nature in all these areas with its enormous water usage, pesticide spraying and forest fires. This makes it nearly impossible to cultivate the land, to fish in the waters
91. Regjeringen, «ILO-konvensjon nr. 169 om urfolk og stammefolk i selvstendige stater». 92.
and to hunt in the forests. This is a clear violation of the rights of the indigenous people right to live in their home regions and to use their areas’ natural resources, as described in this paragraph. The communities were not consulted before the companies established themselves in the areas. Had these communities been consulted, their answer would have been clear: the eucalyptus industry is not welcome. The Oil fund’s investments contribute to a grave and systematic violation of international standards and national legislation. Therefore it is unacceptable that Norway, which wants to position itself as a champion of indigenous peoples’ rights, invests in the companies Fibria, Stora Enso and Suzano. NORWAY’S TWO FACES The report clarifies the double standards in Norway’s high ethical standards in its natural resource manage-
ment domestically, and investments in unethical companies abroad. People and the environment must have priority, totally independent of where on the earth they find themselves. It is clear that the state must have the same ethical standards with regards to their investments abroad as to their natural resource management on Norwegian soil. THE OIL FUND’S VIOLATION OF ETHICAL GUIDELINES Through this report, we see that the Oil fund’s investments in Suzano, Fibria and Stora Enso violate the fund’s ethical guidelines laid out in paragraph 3, point c) about serious environmental damage and a) about grave or systematic violation of human rights. It is probable that the companies’ unacceptable practice will continue independent of whether the Oil fund imposes stricter requirements, because it is the industry itself which is so damaging. Therefore, we demand that the
TIMBER: Here the eucalyptus is stored in a so-called patio, before it is shipped on to the cellulose factories.
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Oil fund withdraws its money from Fibria, Suzano and Veracel through its investments in Stora Enso. As the world’s largest state fund, the Oil fund has a special ethical responsibility. The Oil fund has great power and the opportunity to lead by example. By divesting in the cellulose companies Fibria, Suzano and Veracel through Stora Enso, the fund would send a strong signal to other investors that the eucalyptus industry promotes unethical, environmentally damaging business practices. The divestment would also be a signal to Brazil that the law must be stronger – and enforced. RIGHTS It is unacceptable that Norway invests large amounts of money in Suzano, Fibria and Stora Enso, which contribute to systematic violations of human rights. The eucalyptus industry robs local people of clean water. The companies Suzano and Fibria and the joint undertaking of Veracel contravene the basic right that people have to water, besides causing sickness and affecting people’s health. It is worth mentioning that the Oil fund has water management
as an area of focus, and demands that companies in which they invest, understand the environmental and societal consequences of their businesses. Fibria, Suzano and Veracel promote environmentally and socially damaging water management, in direct opposition to the fund’s demands. With the eucalyptus companies’ cellulose plantations, access to food is drastically reduced. Food ensures good health and living standards, and is considered a human right. The cellulose industry in the South of Bahia, thus deprives the population of even this basic right. It is incorrect to say that the eucalyptus companies cause development by offering employment, because the work is carried out by machines. Work is a human right, and sustainable food production employs many more people than the plantations and factories. People from the villages cram into the cities, and thus lose the right to a free choice of profession. The joint undertaking Veracel, has repeatedly broken Brazil’s laws on employment and land rights. Moreover, the company has been involved in corruption.
A STREET SURVEY What do the Norwegian people actually know about eucalyptus trees, which our Oil fund earns money from? We have spoken to five randomly selected people in Oslo, and this is their answers to the question.
HILDE KROGH (65) – It is a tree, and an oil, I think? I don’t know where it grows, but I guess that it is in the Southern hemisphere. What it is used for, I am not so sure. The oil is good for your health in some way, but exactly what, I don’t know.
LARS PETTER BERGSMARK (19) – The plant and chewing gum are the two things that spring to mind. I feel like I eat it when I have a cold. And then it has a link to koala bears, doesn’t it? Where it grows, I am not too sure, but I want to say in Latin-America. A place in the South at least.
PÅL SIVERTZEN (24) – Eucalyptus, that is what koala bears eat, isn’t it? I think it is a tree with edible leaves. It is used in cough sweets and stuff. Nothing else is coming to me, no.
RIKKE AASERØD ØISANG (29) – I associate eucalyptus with drops, eucalyptus drops. It is a good, fresh taste. There is certainly a eucalyptus plant too. I believe it grows in South America or somewhere like that.
FREDRIK LIED LILLEBY (34) – I am not sure whether it is a plant or a herb. I link it with cough sweets. Nothing else comes to mind.
THE OIL FUND OUT OF PALM OIL - A PARALLEL In the Ethics Council’s recommendation to the Finance department in 2014 about their withdrawal from the companies TP Astra International and PT Astra Agro Lestari, which have palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the Council emphasized the huge environmental destruction related to converting the tropical forest to plantations. There are many similarities between the eucalyptus plantations in Brazil and the palm oil plantations in Indonesia. Here is the Ethics Council’s recommendations to the Finance department about observation and exclusion of PT Astra International Tbk:1 The environmental damage related to the tropical forest The commercial harvesting and conversion of tropical forest to plantations is considered one of the greatest threats to the preservation of the ecosystem and biological diversity. It leads also to substantial greenhouse gas emissions, around 10% of the release of climate gases in the world between 2000 and 2009 is attributed to the deforestation and deterioration of the forest. The conversion involves the trees being chopped down and vegetation removed before the area is turned into plantations for production of palm oil, timber or other monocultures. The plantations are monocultures which are lacking the ecological worth of the natural forest. Both the UN, World Bank and national authorities in many countries are recognising the necessity to reduce the deforestation and degradation of the tropical forest through, amongst other things, the UN’s Collaborative Initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD and REDD+) which are supported by the World Bank and others. The Norwegian government has signed up to these initiatives by granting up to 3 billion krone a year to reduce deforestation in developing countries. This has promoted both the necessity to reduce the emissions of climate gasses, to protect the biological manifold and to promote sustainable development. 1
Etikkrådet, «Tilrådning om utelukkelse av PT Astra International Tbk fra investeringsuniverset til Statens pensjonsfond utland».
CARBON STORED IN THE EUCALYPTUS PLANTATIONS The eucalyptus plantations are not only planted for cellulose and charcoal production, they are also used as carbon storage projects. The research organisation Eco Nexus writes that the tree plantations are in no way a solution to the climate change we are confronted with. They write that different industries claim, without reason, that fast growing plantations will store CO2. Natural forests hold much more carbon, because, amongst other reasons, the trees grow for long enough that the roots can develop. MINIMAL CLIMATE BENEFIT The tree plantations’ benefit to the climate is minimal when considered along with their consequences for the people and environment. CO2 quotas can be bought to compensate emissions, but most carbon projects lead to lower uptakes of carbon than the emissions from the proceeding deforestation. Many Norwegian companies are involved with planting trees for CO2 storage. The project of the Norwegian venture Tree Farms, which is in Uganda, has led to NorWatch calling the country “CO2lonised”. It is because the damage from the plantations is greater than the benefit of the CO2 storage. The organisation World Rainforest Movement says that “for Norway it is cheaper to plant a tree in the tropics than to implement new technologies which will lead to a reduction in their own emissions”1. UN OPPOSITION The UN’s Kyoto agreement from November 2000 suggests tree planting as a good solution for reducing carbon in the atmosphere. Now the UN has done a U-turn. The judgement was negative when the UN considered Vale Florestar’s project of eucalyptus planting in Brazil, when they had their climate convention in 2011. They wrote that the projects had established themselves in areas dedicated to reforestation of the natural trees, and Vale Florestar were untruthful when they claimed that the areas had a tradition of plantations, and that they had no intention of carrying out projects with negative consequences for the environment and the people. In addition, there was no justification for Vale to choose to plant eucalyptus instead of, for example, softwood trees, when softwood trees have a higher uptake of carbon. Last, but not least, Vale is not clear over the potential negative consequences that large scale monocultures of eucalyptus might have. Vale also doesn’t know of whether the effect of the carbon storage will be worth the environmental risk2. The Brazilian company Plantar, sees itself as a pioneer in planting trees for storing carbon, and has planted 23,000 hectares of eucalyptus in the state of Minas Gerais. They write that the plantations will have taken up 13 million tons of CO2 over 21 years. This so-called climate change mitigation is worth 65 million US dollars3. The problem is that the trees will be cut down and burnt as charcoal in a few years, and the CO2 gas will be released straight back into the atmosphere. At the end of the day, the only ones benefitting from the mitigation measure is the company itself. It is in no way true that the eucalyptus plantations can be considered as a climate change measure. 1 World Rainforest Movement, «Sinks that stink». 2. Abhirup, «Vale Florestar. Reforestation of degraded tropical land in Brazilian Amazon». 3. Ibid.
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FIBRIA IN ESPIRITO SANTO AND CONTRAV The indigenous and tribal peoples convention to the International Labour Organisation, convention 169, was put in CHRONICLE: WINFRIDUS OVERBEEK place in 1991 and ratified by Brazil in 2002. This convention protects the rights for the traditional peoples and indigenous folk who make up Brazil’s 3000 quilombola communities and around 240 indigenous groups1. Despite the guarantees given by the convention and constitution, the eucalyptus company Winfridus Overbeek is an Fibria’s business is in violation of the people’s rights. environmental activist based The convention 169 should guarantee two important rights for in Vitória, Espirito Santo, the quilombola and indigenous people of Brazil. The first is Brazil. He is a coordinator the right to free, well informed advice, including legal advice, and co-author on publicagiven in advance, in relation to the right to self-determination. tions about human rights The second is the right to territories and land, which guarviolations committed by antees their control over land in which they have traditionally Fibria, formerly Aracruz. lived. From 1967, and during the 1970’s, first, Fibria invaded a territory which belonged to Tupinikim and Guaraní indigenous groups in the commune Aracruz, which was part of the aim to set up large scale plantations. Later, they invaded land which belonged to a quilombola community in the communes of São Mateus and Conceição da Barra. These communities were not consulted on whether they wanted to have plantations on their areas of land, which would destroy the forest, dry up the rivers and lakes and disturb their way of living. Quite the opposite, with support from the military dictatorship (1964-1985), from 1967, Fibria’s project used violent means to drive away the Tupinikim people, Guaraní people, and the quilombolas. By the end of the 1970´s, only three of 37 indigenous villages and 35 of 100 quilombola communities had been able to resist this seizure of their land2. FALSIFYING OF TITLES TO LAND Fibria always pretended to have legally bought areas of land from the indigenous and quilombola communities. Knowing that the people in most of these communities were possessors – land owners without official titles to the land – the company falsified, in the 70’s, the land titles with their employees acting as the small farmers and land owners. They were told by the company to give over “their” land to Fibria. This fraud was finally uncovered and published in 2002 as a result of an investigation by the Parliamentary Investigation Commission. This included a hearing of many of those concerned, including previous employees that the company had involved3. In 2007, the Brazilian government finally decided to respect the land rights of the Tupinikim and Guaraní people by giving them 18,000 hectares of land. This was despite the fact they traditionally had a region of around 30,000 hectares before there land was invaded by Fibria. Nevertheless, the return of the land was a huge victory for the indigenous people and a big loss for the company. VIOLATION OF THE RIGHTS In a recent phase of the struggle (2005-2007), when the ILO convention 169 was already in place, the indigenous people suffered serious violations of their rights, like racist campaigns instigated by Fibria against the Tupinikim people4. Fibria’s employees distributed racist pamphlets in public schools in the state of Espirito Santo. The pamphlets raised suspicions over the Tupinikim people’s indigenous identity, and thus strengthened the established preconceptions and encouraged other civilians to turn against them. Another serious rights violation was a police raid in January 2006 which cast out the Tupinikim and Guaraní people from the villages of Olho d´Água and Corrego d´Oura which resulted in 13 injured leaders of the indigenous people. The police raid was dependent on the full logistical support of Fibria. Bulldozers flattened the area and their houses, even including a place of worship. The company has never been held accountable for these crimes5. Of the 35 quilombola communities in the North, many of them still struggle to get their land back from Fibria. Since 2003, at least 5 villages have demanded their land back from INCRA, the national land reform office. INCRA published reports which addressed the land ownership, but no Fibria-invaded quilombola land has been given back so far. This is mainly due to the political pressure from the Brazilian agro-industry lobby group, which includes the efforts of those responsible for the plantations who are trying to avoid being forced to give back all the quilombola territories in Brazil, and are trying to work against the quilombola’s progress in court6.
1. Urfolk i Brasil sin rett til jorden de tradisjonelt bor på blir definert i grunnloven fra 1988. 2. Gomes & Overbeek, Aracruz Credo. 3. MPF, «Justiça mantém liminar que suspende financiamentos do BNDES à Fibria Celulose». 4. Gomes & Overbeek, Aracruz Credo. 5. Ibid. 6. Lang, «Não a PEC 215!». 7. Barcellos, Estudo e Relatório de Impactos em Direitos Humanos de Grandes Projetos (EIDH/RIDH). 8. Coimbra, «Decisão da Justiça sobre quilombolas presos pode sair até segunda-feira». 9. Medeiros, «Ações em Linharinho pretendem fortalecer luta quilombola por retomada de terras» 10. MPF, «Justiça mantém liminar que suspende financiamentos do BNDES à Fibria Celulose».
VENING THE ILO CONVENTION 169 In the meantime, the quilombola communities suffered violations of their land rights and arrests of people in the local communities for “unlawfully” taking and selling logs from their own land. An extensive report on the violations carried out against these local communities was published by Humans Rights Movement in 2010 in Espirito Santo7. The report concerned violations of the land rights and the situation of around 60 charged quilombola. Since then little has changed, the areas of land have not been given back and Fibria continues with its crimes8. CONTINUING THE FIGHT The villages continue the fight. Many places have taken back their territories which were occupied by Fibria’s eucalyptus plantations, and the eucalyptus trees have been replaced with crops9. The villagers are supported by groups in the civilian community and even by the authorities. The Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) in São Mateus managed to uphold a verdict based on a lawsuit the office themselves had filed10. The verdict demands that the development fund’s financing of Fibria stops, this because of the areas which were wrongfully taken from the quilombola’s areas. According to the MPF, these areas of land should be returned to their legitimate owners – the quilombola. For now, Fibria’s interests, economic and political power, and the company’s little group with shareholders and investors who enjoy enormous dividends, make the plantation activities in Espirito Santo continue to be beneficial for them. They constantly violate the quilombola’s rights to self-determination as laid out by the ILO convention 169. Even if the quilombola communities have fought up until today, it is extremely important that their cry for justice continues to be heard the world over, so that their rights can finally be fulfilled. Winnie Overbeek
GOING FOR A WALK: Pataxó people in Nova Esperança fight to get back their areas in the South of Bahia. Large parts of the area have been planted with eucalyptus.
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OUR DEMANDS OF POLITICIA FOREIGN INVESTMENTS AND ABOUT THE EUCALYPTUS INDUSTRY
- Norwegian investments must be taken out of Suzano and Fibria, and Veracel through divestment in Stora Enso. - The responsible parties must review other eucalyptus companies in Brazil and other parts of the world. The results must be published publicly. Any findings of environmental destruction and violations of human rights and the rights of indigenous people, must lead to exclusion from the Oil fund, and the Oil fund must refrain from investing in these ventures in the future. - A wider range of resources must be consulted, from grass root organisations, local people, media and researchers, when the decisions on exclusion are taken.
ABOUT THE FUND’S ETHICAL REGULATIONS
- There must be stronger ethical regulations for Norway’s investments overseas. Norway must have similar high standards for their overseas investments as they have for their natural resource management domestically. - Norway must uphold the ILO convention number 169. The Oil fund must pull out of, and no longer invest in, industries which violate the paragraph.
DEMANDS TO THE ETHICS COUNCIL
- If the Norges Bank do not pull out their investments, the Ethics council must recommend the divestment. - The Ethics Council must demand that Norway withdraws from, and no longer invests in industries which violate the ILO convention number 169. - The Ethics Council must follow stronger ethical regulations in its future work. It must have the same ethical demands of the State’s Foreign Pension Fund investments as it makes for resource management on Norwegian soil.
DEMAND TO POLITICIANS
- The conscious consumer, and consumer in general, must have available information on what cellulose based products are made from, and where they come from. Also, consumables which are not food, must also have an “ingredients” list.
ANS, THE STATE PENSION D NORGES BANK
THE GREEN DESERT
THE NORWEGIAN SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE FOR LATIN-AMERICA AND THE BRIGADE PROJECT The Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin-America (LAG) is a politically independent solidarity organisation which disseminates information about Latin-America and supports the Latin-American people’s fight for a better future. The organisation has five local branches in Norway, many subsidiary groups and a women’s section. LAG work to influence people, politicians and the media. In order to share good information, it is necessary to have good sources. Therefore, LAG works with different social movements in Latin-America. Through the brigade project, LAG works together with, among others, The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil, and the indigenous and women’s organisations Conavigua in Guatemala and the Zapatistas in Mexico. Every six months, LAG sends a group of young people to a country in Latin-America where they learn about being activists. At the end of their time abroad, they take part in an informational project. The exchanges also work the other way with representatives from the collaborative organisations coming to visit Norway. Further, LAG facilitates exchanges between the different organisations in Latin-America. The brigade project is supported by Fredskorpset (FK Norway). In the Autumn of 2015, the brigade project set out for Brazil and the Southernmost region in the state of Bahia. The region is dominated by eucalyptus plantations and the brigade worked with the Landless Workers’ Movement, different indigenous groups and the quilombolas. The brigade gave itself the name Voz Alta, which translated from Portuguese means “loud voice”. Further, the name shows solidarity with the Alta actions in the 1970’s, and the fight for indigenous rights and the environment. The group comprises young adults from 19 to 28 years old, from different backgrounds, and nobody is a professional, the project is based on volunteerism. A result of the autumn brigade in 2015 is this report.
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THE GREEN DESERT
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Personal communication with Erling Lorentzen in his home in Oslo. 11.03.2016 at 14:00.
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Back cover illustration by Eiril Linge