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Forest and Biodiversity program highlights

The Forest and Biodiversity Program’s objective is to strengthen and promote sustainable local initiatives for the protection and local use of forests and biodiversity. We resist and mobilize against destructives practices, actions and policies that destroy forests and biodiversity. We also work to build and strengthen, a global movement for forests, biodiversity and the communities that depend on them, in the medium and long term.
Kalyan Varma, India - 8th place (tied)

The Forest and Biodiversity Program’s focus on strengthening and promoting sustainable local initiatives means that some of its key activities and successes occur at the national level. 


For example, in Uruguay, Friends of the Earth succeeded in a case against logging company ENCE for misleading advertising and destruction of native forests in Uruguay. We successfully halted construction of the controversial pulp and paper mill proposed by ENCE, who had been planning to invest US$1,500 million. The company was financially sanctioned and then decided to sell its land and leave the country. We also supported a local community in Uruguay to sue a company that was going to plant genetically modified soybeans in an area rich in family and organic farming.


In Malaysia, Friends of the Earth has also filed a lawsuit to save a water-catchment forest on the Jerai mountain in Kedah, from a quarry project that has been illegally approved by the State Government. The communities located in the foothills of the mountain depend on the mountain’s rivers for water supply for domestic use and to irrigate their rice fields.


The Forests and Biodiversity Program is also focused on challenging and changing intergovernmental policies that already or potentially could contribute to the destruction of forests and biodiversity, in forums such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the World Forestry Congress.


For example, the Forests and Biodiversity program participated in the CBD’s High-level Working Group on the 2010 biodiversity target and post-2010 target(s), which took place 11 March 2009 in Bonn, Germany. FoEI successful persuaded governments to inorporate a number of key paragraphs into the final 2010 Biodiversity Targets document (even though it still generally favors the dominant vision of mercantilization and commercialization).


Collaborative side and parallel events during intergovernmental forums have also been extremely successful in raising civil society’s concerns and challenging government perspectives. The joint efforts of FoEI's Forests and Biodiversity, CJE and EJRN programs, together with key allies such as the Global Forest Coalition, has helped to ensure that a number of governments, such as Bolivia and Paraguay, have voiced their concerns about the potential negative impacts of policies on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), especially if REDD is used to support plantations and is funded through carbon markets. The subsequent REDD draft reflected these concerns. 


A key element in this effort was a side event on the potential impacts of REDD on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and biodiversity and the risks of genetically engineered (GE) trees, on 3 June, parallel to the meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies to the UNFCCC in Bonn. This was co-organized with the Global Forest Coalition and the International Alliance on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest. Many FoEI member groups have also been enabled to participate in national REDD policy discussions currently underway.


Similarly, a three-day capacity-building event on the impacts of tree plantations was organized prior to the World Forestry Congress, 16-18 October, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, together with the World Rainforest Movement, the Global Forest Coalition and La Via Campesina Argentina. This event helped to build capacity and provide a space for more than 150 representatives of indigenous organizations, farmers’ movements and NGOs, enabling them to voice their concerns about the current forestry model and to propose alternative solutions on an international platform.


The Plantations Campaign and a delegation of ATALC groups also produced a video about the performance of Finnish pulp and paper company Stora Enso in Uruguay, and presented a photo exhibition on the impacts of cellulose/logging corporations in the Southern Cone of South America, which was exhibited at the World Forestry Congress.


FoEI is collating vital information about alternative approaches to forest management, which clearly demonstrate that community management of forests is a viable contribution to food sovereignty and community control of resources, and is already practised in many parts of the world. To this end, we published and distributed "Community-based Forest Governance: from resistance to proposals for sustainable use" in 2009.


We also highlighted local struggles and promoted alternative practices for sustainable livelihoods through a number of publications and statements. With FoE groups from Nigeria, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea, and the World Rainforest Movement, we compiled three detailed case studies that show the impact plantations have on women. These were launched to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2009, and celebrate women’s role in opposing plantations and fighting for a better world. On the back of these studies, and in collaboration with FoE France, the Forests and Biodiversity Program also initiated a campaign against Michelin’s destructive activities in Nigeria. FoE Liberia, FoE Cameroon and FoE Netherlands also produced a video on "Illegal Logging: African stories," which has so far been viewed 1,139 times on YouTube in addition to viewings via FoE websites.


In reaction to the alarming data released in the 2009 "State of the World’s Forests" report from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), FoEI and the Global Forest Coalition again called on world governments to stop promoting plantations, and to halt the conversion of forests into biofuel plantations. The FAO report notes that the expansion of large-scale monocultures of oil palm, soy and other crops for agrofuel production has been a key factor in the failure to halt deforestation, and that cellulosic biofuels could have further dramatic impacts. It also says illegal logging could increase due to the global economic crisis, if it leads to a contraction of the formal forestry sector.


The Forests and Biodiversity program, together with other FoEI programs, also collaborated with La Via Campesina to elaborate a declaration on the International Day of Action on Monoculture Tree Plantations on 21 September 2009. Various FoEI groups – including from France, Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina – marked the day with a variety of actions.


The program also participated in the 2009 World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, co-hosting a workshop on plantations, market mechanisms and false solutions, with the Global Forest Coalition. 100 hundred people participated.


The Forest and Biodiversity Program’s working areas are:


  • Plantations campaign
  • Destructive logging campaign
  • Community forest governance
  • Biodiversity agenda
  • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD)


The Forest and Biodiversity Program currently works with the following FoEI Programs on cross-cutting themes:


  • With the Economic Justice Resisting Neoliberalism Program -  the Plantations campaign
  • With the Climate Justice and Energy Program, - the REDD campaign


Coordinators and participants

Coordinator: Isaac Rojas, FoE Costa Rica,
The Forests and Biodiversity Steering group includes:

  • For APac: Shamila Arifin, FoE Malaysia
  • For Europe: Danielle van Oijen, FoE Netherlands
  • For ATALC: Eduardo Sanchez, FoE Argentina
  • For Africa: discussion with African region is ongoing

Groups that participated actively in 2009 included Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Finland, France, Honduras, Indonesia, Liberia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Paraguay, Sweden, Switzerland and Uruguay.

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