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Jul 01, 2011

Our position on forest certification schemes

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 01, 2011 01:05 PM
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Friends of the Earth International strongly rejects certification of large-scale tree plantations and does not support any forest certification scheme at a global level. This page sets out the reasons why.

Forest certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that claims to support responsible forest management worldwide. Certified wood is verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain. The certifying body ensures that trees destined to be certified come from responsibly harvested and verified sources.


A certified logging operation must also respect the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations who depend on the forests.


Why do we reject certification?

Large scale tree plantations impact communities and the environment. The forced migration of local and indigenous communities is common place as plantations contaminate, and often eliminate, local water sources and destroy an area's biodiversity. The rights of the affected communities are generally ignored.


We believe that certification alone fails to address all the negative impacts associated with forest logging.


However, we do believe that certification has partially helped to convince the industry and its political decision-makers that a change of practices is necessary and possible; it has also contributed to the discussion on sustainability, despite not having come up with the right solutions.


The argument put forward that without certification things would be even worse, is not necessarily true. Many of our member groups in the global South have found examples of forest exploitation, certified sustainable, yet flouting all the rules. Reasons for this include poor monitoring and evaluation processes, corruption and weak governance.


We believe that a broader scheme should be introduced which also addresses the unsustainable demand for wood and promotes forms of production that strengthen the rights of people who live off the forest to determine their own food production systems (food sovereignty) and other local sustainable initiatives of wood production.


In conclusion

Certification systems are based on new market demands, especially from the global North, which are there to address the environmental concerns of consumers. They are still strongly rejected in the global South by affected communities, such as those living in, or dependent on, forests, and social movements.


How we're working to stop forest logging

Friends of the Earth International member groups work with local communities to preserve forests and uphold community and indigenous rights to manage forest resources and secure sustainable livelihoods.


We support forest-dwelling communities in upholding collective and traditional land rights. We identify and implement both traditional and innovative practices to restore and protect native species, secure access for communities and monitor protected areas.


We develop and support alternative income generation projects, such as the small-scale trade in non-timber forest products, that ensure sustainable livelihoods that do not endanger biodiversity.  We especially engage women and young people in communities.


Find out more

Dec 16, 2010

Senseless Arrests Reign in Sarawak, Malaysia

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 16, 2010 12:10 PM

Sahabat Alam Malaysia / Friends of the Earth Malaysia have expressed their concerns to the authorities regarding the intimidation and persecution of indigenous leaders in Sarawak. In the latest incident a community activist from the Indigenous Iban tribe was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

palm plantationPolitical tensions between regional and corporate interests in Sarawak appear to be escalating, as evidenced by the recent arrest of a community activist from the indigenous Iban tribe. Mr Liam Rengga, a local farmer, was charged with attempted murder on November 23, 2010.  


According to the police report, Rengga testified that, while posting no-entry signs on his land to discourage poachers, he encountered two men whom he believed to be palm oil plantation agents. Rengga claims to have briefly discussed the communal hunting ban with these individuals before noticing a shotgun in their vehicle and being told to refrain from causing any sort of disturbance. He was arrested on November 17 at his farm hut. Further information on the evidence behind the charge of attempted murder is not available.


Liam Rengga is a well-known proponent of indigenous land rights and has been protesting over the steady encroachment of palm oil facilities on native customary rights (NCR) lands. He is involved in pending litigation against an unnamed palm oil company, and was a leading figure in the establishment of the Sungai Senga Residents' Association (SSRA), organized to better promote locals' collective interests regarding land management.  


Since the SSRA was formally registered in July 2010, regular campaign work has been carried out, including an official letter to government and company authorities detailing the environmental and public health repercussions of plantation water pollution. 


SSRA has also issued a warning letter urging plantation company workers to refrain from using the private road that runs through his village's NCR territory, and letters on SSRA’s objectives and functions were sent to the plantation company and several government departments.


an obstacle to expansion

Recently the Malaysian government announced their plans to greatly expand palm oil cultivation; they intend to double the total plantation area in Sarawak by 2020. 


Given Mr. Rengga's role as activist and obstacle to government plans for plantation expansion, speculation regarding the suspicious nature of his arrest has proven impossible to suppress. Parallels have been drawn with similar past occurrences, such as the 2003 year-long detention of two Penan villagers or the arrest in October of seven community leaders and the secretary-general of a local NGO. 


Both cases were eventually dismissed for lack of evidence. These associations lend circumstantial credibility to allegations of judicial abuse and corporate favoritism.


Rengga has categorically denied any criminal behavior in efforts to defend traditional territories. Although he finds the charge of attempted murder extremely outrageous, he vows not to let his current predicament affect the community land rights struggle:


"I will continue championing our rights. If anything, I am more spirited now than I was before and will fight till the end." 


He added that he was prepared for an altercation due to mounting hostility between villagers and company workers, resulting from dissatisfaction over the plantation license and its encroachment upon communal land. 


Friends of the Earth Malaysia / Sahabat Alam Malaysia strongly urges that the charge of attempted murder against Mr.Rengga, who is the sole breadwinner of his family, be summarily dropped if the state is unable to provide concrete and incontrovertible evidence.  They request that the Sarawak State Government affirm the native customary rights of the Rumah Kilat community and positively engage them by providing meaningful responses to their grievances. 


Finally they strongly urge the authorities to cease intimidation and persecution of all native leaders who are fighting for their lawful rights.

Nov 02, 2010

Failure to protect biodiversity denounced

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 02, 2010 05:17 PM

More than 100 representatives of environmental NGOs and local communities met in Penang, Malaysia recently to denounce the role of governments and corporations in biodiversity loss, deforestation and the failure of governments to meet the targets set to halt biodiversity loss under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

pre conference malaysiaThe representatives were attending Friends of the Earth International’s pre-conference of a Peoples Gathering on Forests, Biodiversity, Community Rights and Indigenous Peoples that took place on October 14-17, 2010.


The event was organised by Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific and Hosted by Sahabat Alam Malaysia – Friends of the Earth Malaysia at Jerejak Rainforest Resort, Penang, Malaysia.


Those in attendance called for an immediate halt to the destructive projects being promoted by governments and corporations that enter communities under the guise of development but instead bring environmental destruction and serious human rights violations.


"Despite being the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity no meaningful progress has been made at the international level to ensure a halt or even a slow-down biodiversity loss and environmental degradation," said Isaac Rojas, international forests and biodiversity coordinator for Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), speaking at the Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific conference on Forest, Biodiversity, Community Rights and Indigenous Peoples.


Sep 14, 2010

Penan communities re-blockade villages in protest over government's broken promises

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 14, 2010 01:55 PM
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On September 2, 2010, around 150 Penan villagers from a number of communities in Sarawak, Malaysia, gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the simultaneous blockades they held the previous year.

penan-blockade-1The gathering was held not only to commemorate the anniversary of the protests but also to honour the three-decade struggles of the Penan communities in Sarawak against the continued violations of their Native Customary Rights (NCR). It was held as a reminder to their people to appreciate their rights, livelihoods, traditions and culture that are closely tied to the forests, which have now been largely destroyed by logging companies.


During the original protests, the state response included the appearance a state assembly member at the blockade site, who urged those involved to dismantle the barricades and sign a particular memorandum of understanding (MOU) with him as a co-signatory.


The content of the MOU included the following pledges on the part of the Sarawak State Government:

  1. To make an effort at bringing Penan community leaders to meet with higher authorities in order to discuss on matters concerning their land and traditional territories;
  2. To make an effort at bringing the Penan communities’ application for the construction of kindergartens and primary schools at each Penan longhouse (to the appropriate authorities).
  3. To increase the number of community leaders for the Penan community.
  4. To make an effort at introducing agricultural activities that are suitable for the Penan communities.
  5. To make an effort at obtaining financial allocations for the housing and healthcare needs of Penan communities


The demands above were not the original demands that the Penan communities had made during the blockades. The blockades last year were erected firstly, to demand that the Sarawak State Government must recognise that the Penan have the right to make their own decisions in relation to their land, and secondly, to ask that logging activities and the encroachments into Penan land be immediately halted in order to prevent starvation. 


broken promises penan-blockade-2

The original protest demanded that both the government and logging companies recognise the rights of the Penan to their land. However, the communities were pressured by state to change their demands to those above.


A year later, the Penan have yet to hear how even these very simple demands will be fulfilled by the state. The offers of schools, childcare and clinics have come to nothing. 


As a result the Penan communities have declared that If the state continues to ignore its obligations to them they will not hesitate to set up blockades for a longer period of time.


In a statement outlining their position a Penan spokesman said:


"Many of us have gone to prison for defending our rights to this land. Thus, we will continue defending our rights for the rest of our lives."


penan-blockade-3The Penan are also concerned about the reports they have been reading in the papers about themselves.


For instance, in December 2009, the state government announced a plan to move the Penan communities to a resettlement site similar to that of the Sungai Asap resettlement scheme for the Bakun-affected communities. This was not done in consultation with the Penan.


"Our people will not move to any other location just because the government says so. Our home lies within our ancestral land. The government cannot continue to threaten us in this way and move us around at will" continues the statement.


"The government just simply cannot continue to govern in this way – making ‘announcements’ without any sense of obligation to first consult our communities and ‘pledging’ without taking any follow-up steps and fulfilling the promises. We reiterate that failure to meet our demands will certainly result in long-term blockades in the state" it concludes.


further reading

Find out more about logging in Sarawak and the work that Friends of the Earth Malaysia are doing to address it.

Jul 07, 2010

New timber law is the first step towards banning illegal timber in Europe

by PhilLee — last modified Jul 07, 2010 05:33 PM

Friends of the Earth Europe welcomed the majority vote in the European Parliament on July 7 in favour of the European directive to ban illegal timber from the European market.

papua new guinea: holding corporations accountableFriends of the Earth Europe has been campaigning for over ten years for this law, to save the world's forests and to make sure forest dependent people get a fair deal. Friends of the Earth Europe will continue to follow the implementation process, to ensure countries and companies turn it into an effective law.


The directive is a compromise deal between representatives of the European Parliament and Commission. It contains strong and weak points, but is an important first step towards a level playing field in the international timber sector.


Geert Ritsema, Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “This law, if properly enforced, will have a huge positive impact on the world’s forests and their inhabitants. It will also mean that developing countries will finally start benefiting from the revenues that, until now, have disappeared due to illegal trade.”


The new law obligates operators to be transparent about the origin of their wood. Also, they have to assess the possibility of illegality and try to reduce the risk of selling illegal wood. All operators have to give information on where their timber is bought and sold. These measures will provide more transparency in the chain of trade and will reduce the risk of illegal timber appearing on the market.


Weak penalty system

On a national level, penalties and sanctions will still need to be defined. Unfortunately, no minimum penalties have been set on European level. This makes it possible for companies to move to countries with low penalties, and continue trading illegal timber. The exception of printed products in the new law is also a missed opportunity, with 3.2 billion euro's spent on a yearly basis importing these products. Friends of the Earth Europe, together with other Environmental organisations will keep a close eye on the process of implementation of the law in the near future. 

Mar 11, 2010

Sumatrian Forest Carbon Deal slammed by FoE Australia and Indonesia

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 11, 2010 04:33 PM

Friends of the Earth Australia and WAHLI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) have come out strongly in opposition to the new Australian-Indonesian Forest Carbon Partnership announced to coincide with the Indonesian President’s visit to Canberra.

The REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation) trial project will be located in the Jambi province and receive A$30 million in funding from the International Forest Carbon Initiative (IFCI), which is jointly managed by the Department of Climate Change and AusAID. 

"It is vital to globally reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, however, the international REDD framework fails to address the real drivers of deforestation nor will it reduce global carbon emissions" said James Goodman from Friends of the Earth Australia.


"REDD projects will instead provide a cheap source of ‘offsets’ to count towards Australia’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments. Treasury modelling shows that the government plans to achieve its 5% (30.75 MtCO2) emission reduction target by purchasing 46MtCO2 of offsets for overseas, that is purchasing more tonnes of carbon offsets that we reduce emissions by! Without offsets the modelling shows that our emissions would actually increase by over 5%. Such ‘offsets’ do not reduce global carbon emissions, but provide a dangerous smokescreen behind which the Australia government can hide its lack of read action on climate change and continued fossil fuel dependence" he continued.


WALHI and FOE Australia are extremely concerned that REDD projects will undermine the rights of Indigenous and forest-dependant peoples in the area.


In September 2009 the United Nations Committee on Racial Discrimination wrote Indonesia to express concerns that Indonesia REDD regulations do not respect the rights of Indigenous peoples. Documents from the Australian-Indonesian Kalimantan REDD project fail to guarantee the rights of Indigenous people in the area.


"This raises human rights concerns and bad climate policy given that enhancing local control and management of forested areas by Indigenous and local communities is the best way to reduce deforestation" said James Goodman.


There are additional concerns about the environmental utility of this scheme in light of a recent Indonesian government announcement that they are seeking to reclassify palm oil plantations as forests, meaning that the Indonesian government could still be paid for forest conservation in cases where old growth forest is clear-felled for palm oil plantations.


"Australia REDD offset model violates Australia's international obligations and should be considered as a fraud: the scheme aims to reduce deforestation is not, in fact aims to create a source of cheap credit for the increase in emissions in Australia." said Arif Munandar, Regional Executive Director of WALHI Jambi.

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 - [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

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. 

'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.

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).

Aug 25, 2008

UN Climate Talks in Accra, August 2008

by SisiNutt — last modified Aug 25, 2008 12:15 PM
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Forests are more than carbon!

Workshop on campesino forest use, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Workshop on campesino forest use, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

One of the main topics at the United Nations climate talks in Accra from 21– 27 August 2008 was Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD).

What was at stake? The proposed inclusion of forests in carbon markets would enable developed countries to avoid real carbon emissions reductions at home. Furthermore, any proposal that increases the financial value of forests may trigger a vast increase in land rights abuse. This would be the result of a rapid expansion of state or corporate control over forests without regard to the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities.

In Accra, Friends of the Earth International presented its positions and proposals in various official workshops, side events and discussions with country delegates.


learn more

Listen to Real World Radio: UN climate talks end amid scrutiny

Download our new briefing as PDF: Forests are More than Carbon

Read regular updates from Kate Horner of FoE US here

Our latest press releases

A selection of FoEI in the news

Read climate talks updates from Third World Network

Watch videos from the conference at the United Nations web site


...and visit our climate finance campaign pages!

group photo of climate people

The FoEI team in the Accra Conference Center

Mar 31, 2008

Halting misleading palm oil ads

by UrskaMerc — last modified Mar 31, 2008 12:30 PM

When the Malaysian Palm Oil Council put out a television advertisement making claims about its "sustainable" palm oil in 2007, Friends of the Earth International reported the council to the UK advertising watchdog and won. Now in 2009 Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland are taking the Council to task again.

foei victory in bid to halt misleading palm oil adsPalm oil plantations in Malaysia and the wider region are responsible for massive forest destruction, carbon dioxide emissions, and broad environmental and social ills.


In an edition of the Economist in April 2009 the Malaysian Palm Oil Council referred to their product as "the green answer".


They claimed that "what makes palm oil so attractive is that its production puts minimal strain on the environment.”


Additionally they stated that: “Palm oil is the only product available to sustainably and efficiently meet a large proportion of the world‟s increasing demand for oil crop-based consumer goods, foodstuff and biofuels”


Friends of the Earth totally refutes the claims and we believe they are in contravention of UK advertising regulations as there is insufficient evidence to back these up and many more. As a result Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland have filed a complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Association (ASA).


Read the complaint here [PDF]


Update: On September 10, 2009 the ASA ruled in our favour.


Background to the 2007 complaint

In 2007 an advertisement appeared on UK television from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council. The images and text of the television ad portrayed Malaysian palm oil as green and environmentally friendly, using statements such as "a gift from nature, a gift for life" and "helping the planet breathe", as well as images of oil palm trees and tropical rainforests. In particular, the final sentence "sustainably produced since 1917" is clearly misleading - the consumer is likely to take from the term that palm oil is produced without harming the environment in any way. The footage in the advertisement, by hinting that palm oil production does not harm trees or contribute to deforestation, also misleads the consumer into believing palm oil is "sustainably produced".

Making its official complaint to the UK Advertising Standards Agency, FoEI stated that it strenuously opposes the palm oil council’s reference to so-called "sustainable" palm oil. On January 9, 2008, FoEI’s complaint was fully upheld, as the UK ad watchdog agreed there was no evidence to support the Council's claim that palm oil is sustainably produced. The watchdog further deemed the adverts to be misleading, and stated they should not be broadcast again.

More information:


photo credit: myrthe verweij



Mar 20, 2007

biological diversity meeting amidst farmer’s protests

by admin — last modified Mar 20, 2007 12:20 PM
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Following the UN talks on GM crops and food, the eighth Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) started in Curitiba on 20th March 2007.

In parallel, a Civil Society Forum, bringing together 70 representatives from international organizations including many Friends of the Earth activists, was organized to feed into the convention’s discussions on privatization of natural resources and biodiversity. A massive mobilization of farmers on the streets, in combination with effective inside campaigns, led to a concrete result in terms of a continued moratorium on so-called terminator technology (sterile seeds).


Friends of the Earth International and many others raised the call for a moratorium on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment at meeting, and insisted that the CBD launch a thorough global examination of the risks and impacts of genetically engineered trees.


See the pictures

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