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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.