Nov 25, 2009

Australian Offset Projects Backfire in Indonesia

by Krista Stryker — last modified Nov 25, 2009 05:31 PM

Friends of the Earth Australia and several other environmental groups demonstrated this week against the Australian government's proposal of a cheap forest carbon offset market.

REDD-protestors-australiaProtesters set up outside of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia as well as in front of the Philip Street Offices of the Prime Minister in Sydney, Australia.


The Australian government has proposed to set up a market for cheap carbon forest offsets as an option for emissions reductions in the international climate framework. Carbon offsets, called Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), are a controversial proposal of the December 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen.


The government wants the offsets for Australian companies to be covered by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, Australia's cap-and-trade system of emissions trading due to be set up in 2010. Australia already has one of the advanced forest carbon offset schemes set up in the Central Kalimantan in Indonesia.


"The main purpose of carbon offset schemes like the AusAid project in Kalimantan is to give polluting Australian companies a cheap offset option for their emissions. Aid money is being used to serve Australia’s own economic interests, not the long term interests of the people of Indonesia," said James Goodman of Friends of the Earth Sydney.


Demonstrators state that REDD projects are not the solution to combating climate change because the offsets from avoided deforestation may not be credible and don't accurately represent real emission reductions. They also fail to address the real causes of deforestation.


Villagers in the peatland area of Indonesia have appealed directly to the United Nations to stop all REDD offset projects, saying that the projects undermine the local people's sovereignty over resources.


Another protest was held on Wednesday, November 25,2009, in both countries to mark the launch of a joint AID/WATCH and FoE Australia report called 'What a Scam! Australia's REDD Offsets for Copenhagen.'

Sep 21, 2009

September 21: international day for the forests, against plantations

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 21, 2009 12:28 PM

Friends of the Earth International and peasant movement La Via Campesina mark the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations.

monoculture-plantation-1plantations are not forests

Tree plantations are a monoculture which causes huge impacts throughout the world. Plantations are a huge number of very rapidly growing single species of trees of the same age that are shown to occupy considerable land areas, with very high consumption of soil nutrients and water. When they reach their reproductive cycle, they are all cut down to the ground. Plantations are uniform agricultural systems which replace in many cases natural ecosystems or agro-ecological systems which are richer in terms of biological and cultural diversity, and where many peasant and indigenous communities live.

As a part of the agribusiness model of production, plantations are pursued for the production of cellulose pulp to produce paper, timber, oils and agrofuels. Plantations are not as biologically and socially rich as forests; on the contrary, they cause serious negative impacts: displacement of entire communities, violation to the rights of the Peoples, decay of local culture, generalized violence and pesticides contamination, loss of biological diversity and alteration of hydrological cycles. Besides, these impacts are most detrimental to women [1].  

We are aware of the fact that there is a strong tendency towards the expansion of tree, oil palm and soybean monocultures in the whole world. According to information provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2030, the global area occupied by tree plantations will increase by 30%. Markets for cellulose pulp and products produced from palm oil are constantly growing, at a rate that is expected to be increasing as a result of the growing demand for agrofuels.

monoculture-plantation-4carbon sinks?

In addition, during the last years, big forestry and paper companies have relocated from their original regions in Europe and North America to embark on an aggressive race over the territories and natural resources of the South, where they are currently one of the main obstacles to the processes of land redistribution and democratization of social relations in the countryside. Transnational cellulose and forestry corporations are strongly rooted as the actors that are currently achieving most in terms of economic, political and financial power, and in terms of the imposition of a certain model of production, as well as cultural and ideological power.

To make matters worse, through the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol and in the framework of the efforts to address climate change, large scale tree plantations have been considered as carbon sinks. With this discourse, the logic that has facilitated climate change is locked in and persists: the North will continue their CO2 emissions, while allocating limited funds for a fictional cleaning of the atmosphere in countries of the South, where it is cheap for them to do so.

For this purpose carbon credit schemes have been created, whereby the tons of carbon that are absorbed by large scale tree plantations are negotiated to the highest bidder and used by big polluting companies to comply with the emissions reductions required by the Kyoto Protocol. This, in addition, has served the interests of all the promoters of the global business of large scale plantations, legitimizing them and providing funds to develop them.

This is without a question a fictional solution, because there are serious doubts about the additionality (how much carbon do plantations really absorb) and permanence (how long does that carbon stay absorbed) of the carbon that is supposedly absorbed by larger scale tree plantations. The results of the use of tree plantations as carbon sinks are so uncertain, that it has not been possible to proof and verify to which extent they contribute to the reduction of climate change. New proposals, such as REDD, may follow the same path and cause further negative impacts throughout the world.

forests without trees

All in all, tree plantations seriously undermine people’s food sovereignty and the achievement of social, cultural, political, and economic and climate justice.

monoculture-plantation-2International fora play an important role in the promotion and advocacy for tree plantations: the FAO itself is a strong supporter of this model, and it systematically promotes the alleged environmental and social benefits of plantations, despite the great amount of evidence to the contrary around the world. Moreover, it is the FAO that keeps allowing tree plantations to be erroneously considered as forests. In the framework of the systemic global crisis, this organization is calling for “increased attention to ‘green development’”, including “planting trees, increased investments in sustainable forest management, and active promotion of wood in green building practices and renewable energy” [2].  Despite the serious impacts that tree plantations are causing to biodiversity, the Convention on Biological Diversity has not issued any statement against them.

Critically, according to the Kyoto Protocol there are even forests without trees. According to decision 11/CP.7, annex 1(a) adopted in Marrakesh, “areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention…but which are expected to revert to forest” are to be regarded as forests and included in that definition. In this way, global institutions legitimize an activity which is detrimental to life and which only benefits a small group of capitalists.

The struggle against tree monocultures is an ongoing daily struggle for members of peasant movement La Via Campesina and Friends of the Earth International: our organizations in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines fight against palm oil plantations in Asia; in Africa there are struggles taking place in Swaziland and South Africa against plantations to produce cellulose, and against rubber tree plantations in Nigeria; while in Latin America, organizations in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil are struggling together against plantations to produce cellulose pulp, and in Central America there are struggles against plantations to obtain wood.


The women of La Via Campesina have carried out direct actions in favor of biodiversity occupying areas where transnational companies intend to plant more monoculture plantations. In Europe, our organizations are exposing and denouncing the corporations that are involved in this business, and carrying out solidarity actions. La Via Campesina and Friends of the Earth International have a joint campaign against Stora Enso to denounce and resist the serious impacts that this company is causing in the Southern Cone of South America.

monoculture-plantation-3Resistance and people’s struggles against tree plantations are strong. For this reason, there are mobilizations all around the world, which contribute to strengthen alliances and obtain victories.

On September 21, many countries in the Southern Hemisphere also celebrate the beginning of spring, which is an opportunity to celebrate life. The struggle against tree plantations is also a celebration of life, of a peasant/family farmer/indigenous peoples based agriculture that builds on and enhances diversity, of peasant and indigenous restoration of the forest and of so many other real solutions that currently exist. This celebration of life and resistance, in this day of struggle against tree plantations, brings us closer together towards building a new world.



1. For more information on the effects tree plantations have on women please read the report by Friends of the Earth International and the World Rainforest Movement

2. Read more about the FAO's promotion and advocacy of tree plantations - http://www.fao.org/news/story/es/item/10621/icode/ [external link]

3. Read the UN Convention on Biological Diversity decision adopted in Marrakesh - [external document, go to page 58]

further reading

Find out how Friends of the Earth International are working to promote and protect the world's remaining forests



Sep 10, 2009

'Sustainable palm oil' advert false says watchdog

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 10, 2009 10:47 AM
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After a complain from Friends of the Earth International the UK advertising watchdog has ruled that claiming palm oil is "sustainably produced" is false advertising.

Logging deforestation for palm oil production. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling followed a Friends of the Earth Europe/International complaint against an advert by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

MPOC's statement that palm oil is the 'only product able to sustainably and efficiently meet a larger portion of the world's increasing demand for oil crop-based consumer good, foodstuffs and biofuels' was found misleading.

Also the statement that palm oil contributes to alleviation of poverty was misleading, as 'there was not a consensus of the economic impact of palm oil on local communities'.

The ASA further stated that the certification scheme of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was 'still the subject of debate'. Therefore, making a claim that palm oil could be wholly sustainable, which cannot be substantiated, was deemed to be misleading.

Our corporate campaigner Paul de Clerck said:


'We are pleased that the ASA has ruled that palm oil cannot be qualified as sustainable. The Malaysian palm oil industry continues to lie about the negative environmental and social impacts of palm oil. The vast scale of palm oil production means that it cannot be sustainable - it destroys forests, increases carbon emissions, and forces local communities in developing countries off their land'.


Photo credit: Helen Buckland. Logging deforestation for palm oil production.

indigenous peoples fight to repel loggers

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 10, 2009 04:55 PM

The future of Sarawak's indigenous Penan people looks bleak as they desperately try to save their land from loggers.

sarawak barricades-2The Penan have lived in the forests of Sarawak, a region on the island of Borneo governed by Malaysia, for generations. Now they are facing eviction by logging companies who bought their land from the government without consulting them.

In response, 13 Penan communities, about 3,000 people, began blockading the companies' access to the forest on August 20 in order to halt the transport of logs from their land.

"They are staging this protest now because most of their land is already gone, destroyed by logging and grabbed by the plantation companies," said Jok Jau Evong from Friends of the Earth in Malaysia.

"This is the last chance for them to protect their territory. If they don't succeed, there will be no life for them, no chance for them to survive," he added.

penan-sarawak-3-web.jpgOfficial figures say there are more than 16,000 Penan in Sarawak, including about 300 who still roam the jungle and are among the last truly nomadic people on Earth.

The Malaysian government argue that logging, clearing and then planting for oil palm is the best way to ensure future prosperity for the Penan people and the Sarawak state.


Friends of the Earth International disagrees. Research shows that the vast scale of palm oil production means that it cannot be sustainable - it destroys forests, increases carbon emissions, and forces local communities in developing countries off their land as we are seeing here in Sarawak.


And the logging and destruction of their land has not brought any meaningful benefits to the local communities - instead it has compromised their quality of life and has failed to lead to more jobs for the Penan, since the logging companies tend to higher Indonesian labour instead.


The Penan have said that they will dismantle their blockades if all logging and plantation operations are halted on their land.  They are also demanding that their Native Customary Rights (NCR) are fully recognized and that they are allowed to exercise self-determination with regards to any development plans that may affect them.

We're calling on governments to stop promoting plantations, halt the conversion of forests into biofuel plantations, recognize indigenous peoples’ territories and to instead promote community-based forest management and restoration.



Update:  The blockades were dismantled on September 16th on the basis that the State government would fulfill the demands made by the Penan communities. 

Jun 25, 2009

report exposes illegal logging in Cameroon

by Krista Stryker — last modified Jun 25, 2009 02:11 PM
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A report released by Friends of the Earth Netherlands finds that Cameroon-based company Cana Bois has been illegally logging timber on a large scale for the European market.

cana bois-web.jpgIllegally felled logs awaiting export to European markets. © Kate Davison Amsterdam, June 17, 2009 - A report recently launched by Friends of the Earth Netherlands provides evidence that the Cameroon-based logging company Cana Bois has been illegally logging timber on a large scale for the European market.  Some of the wood was sent to the Netherlands, Spain and France.


Friends of the Earth Netherlands, France and Cameroon examined the prohibited logging practices of Cana Bois, finding that the company has been logging illegally with the knowledge of local authorities since 2007.  The plundered forest reserve is part of the Atlantic Equatorial Coastal Forests ecoregion and is home to a high variety of plant an animal species.  In addition to logging, researchers found evidence of poaching in the area.


A law to end trade in illegally logged timber in the EU has been under way since 2003.  In order to speed up the process, 27 USB sticks containing a spoken version of the report has been given to the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Verburg for the purpose of distribution to her fellow ministers at the next Agricultural Council on 22 and 23 June. 


Anne van Schaik, campaign leader for Milieudefensie says, "this is yet another case of illegal logging and related trade to Europe. Since 2003 the European Union talks about solutions to this problem, but there is still no European legislation to stop trade in illegal timber. In the meantime, the looting of forests continues and the criminal trade in illegally harvested timber flourishes. This comes at the expense of companies that practise sustainable forest management."


Read the report here.


Apr 08, 2009

world forests rapidly disappearing

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 08, 2009 04:30 PM
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In a reaction to an alarming report on the state of the world’s forests by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition called on world governments to take immediate action to halt deforestation and forest degradation.

sarawak forest

Deforestation rates continue to be shockingly high in many countries despite increased awareness that forests play a key role in sustaining livelihoods and mitigating climate change. The FAO report notes that the expansion of large-scale agrofuel production, illegal logging and the replacement of forests with tree plantations have been key factors in the failure to halt deforestation.


FoEI and other environmental groups call on governments to stop promoting plantations, halt the conversion of forests into biofuel plantations, recognize indigenous peoples’ territories, promote community-based forest management and restoration, ban illegal logging and related trade, and implement immediate deforestation moratoria.


Mar 10, 2009

new stories about tree plantations and women

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 10, 2009 05:45 PM

Three new case studies and a video on the impacts of monoculture tree plantations on women in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Brazil were released on Sunday 8 March 2009, in recognition of International Women’s Day.

png womenInternational Women’s Day is an important day for celebrating the crucial role played by women in our societies and reminding ourselves that we still have a long way to go to achieve gender justice, equality and equity in our societies. In recognition of this, the World Rainforest Movement and Friends of the Earth International jointly published three case studies and a short video demonstrating how the lives of women who live near monoculture tree plantations are negatively affected.

The countries featured in the case studies are Nigeria, Brazil and Papua New Guinea.





The case study from Nigeria is focused on the Iguóbazuwa Forest Reserve, a highly biologically diverse region in the southwest of the country, whose crops long supplied food for around 20,000 people. The area has undergone drastic changes since the arrival of the French transnational company Michelin in December 2007. All of the area’s natural wealth was destroyed to plant rubber trees.



In Brazil, the tree plantations established to produce pulp for paper-making are continuously expanding, causing severe impacts on communities and the environment. Three big corporations have moved into southern Brazil to satisfy the enormous demand for paper, mostly in Western countries: Swedish-Finnish forestry giant Stora Ensa, and Brazilian-owned Aracruz and Votorantim.

In Southern Brazil, women from the grassroots organization Via Campesina have been leading protests against the “green desert” development model since 2006, in order to protect food sovereignty and the rights of local communities.


According to a woman interviewed in Southern Brazil, “the companies only give work to men. The few jobs they give to women are the ones that pay the least.” Even in the case of men, the companies tend to hire workers from outside the region, and this influx of strangers invariably leads to a rise in sexual harassment cases.


papua new guinea

In Papua New Guinea, monoculture oil palm plantations are destroying the forests, biodiversity, and local communities' livelihoods. Palm oil produced in Papua New Guinea is primarily exported, especially to the European Union where it is used to produce soap, cosmetics, processed foods and agrofuels.

In some Papua New Guinea communities, women are no longer able to grow food crops, and they are exposed to dangerous pesticides.

“Health is a very big concern in our place. Right now we breathe in the chemicals... I’m pretty sure we are inhaling dangerous substances, and we definitely are dying every minute. Some women had babies who developed asthma when they were just one or two months old. Chemicals are killing us; we will all die sooner,” said a woman from the community of Saga.

Feb 23, 2009

FoEI report: REDD Myths

by JannekeBruil — last modified Feb 23, 2009 04:40 PM
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This report is a comprehensive critique of a new mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (known as REDD).