On 6 September 2006, 200 Tupinikim and Guarani Indians started to cut down eucalyptus trees in an area that traditionally belongs to them, according to a statement from the Alert Against the Green Desert. Aracruz Celulose has occupied and exploited the land for almost 40 years.
The Commission of Tupinikim and Guarani chiefs aims to remind FUNAI and the Ministry of Justice of their promises to demarcate 11,009 hectares of indigenous lands.
FUNAI failed to meet its deadline of 20 August 2006 for sending the Tupinikim and Guarani land demarcation file to the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos. The minister would then have until 20 September to sign the demarcation decree declaring the land as indigenous according to the Brazilian constitution. However, the file is still with FUNAI, despite the fact that FUNAI has already publicly rejected the challenges presented by Aracruz.
“The cutting of eucalyptus trees today is also a protest of the indigenous peoples against the planting of this monoculture on their lands, which led to the destruction of the native forest and has been causing many problems for the Tupinikim and Guarani communities. They intend to cut the trees, and not take them away, reaffirming that their struggle is for the land,” says the Alert Against the Green Desert.
Aracruz acknowledges that the vast areas of land that it occupies represents a problem: “Due to the fact that it makes use of extensive areas of land to plant eucalyptus, Aracruz often encounters problems related to these lands, one of the most prominent being the indigenous issue.” The obvious solution then would be for Aracruz to use less land.
But Aracruz continues to expand. In June 2006, Andritz won a US$80 million contract to increase the capacity of Aracruz’s Fibreline C in Espírito Santo. Fibreline C was only completed four years ago and Aracruz now plans to increase its capacity from 700,000 t/yr to 950,000 t/yr.
Meanwhile the company is planning to build a new 1.3 million t/yr pulp mill in Rio Grande do Sul. The project will cost US$1.2 billion and is planned to come on stream between 2010 and 2015.