Bahia Pulp S.A. (Brazil)

Posted: 14 May 2007 in


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By Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza (CEPEDES) and João Luiz Monti ( Freitas)[1]

April (2007): This report is based on field visits and interviews in the area affected by the multinational pulp company Bahia Pulp S.A. Interviews were carried out with rural and urban workers, inhabitants of impacted villages, trade union leaders and members of associations. The aim of the report is to describe the existing social and environmental impacts of the activities of the company (Bahia Pulp) and its out-sourced affiliates. [2]

The problems we found, experienced by different population groups, who are affected and isolated by the eucalyptus monoculture, illustrate a social and environmental ‘debt’ that has continuously been neglected by the government of the state of Bahia. The problems challenge any claims of sustainability spread by the company and its affiliates – the economic, social, environmental and cultural problems are incompatible with requirements for a just development leading to improved quality of life for the people living near the pulp mill and its plantations. The impact of industrial tree plantations on water resources (already scarce in the region) has led to the drying-up and erosion of the few water sources in the region. As a result, local communities’ traditional production systems have become impracticable, resulting in a very serious social and environmental situation.

The results of this survey show the following problems:

  • the environmental pollution emitted by solid particles from the pulp mill chimneys, added to the intermittent dust from the boilers that give off lime dust and heat, affect the workers;
  • non-compliance with workers rights guaranteed internationally by ILO conventions ratified by Brazil;
  • non-compliance with workers rights, guaranteed in the CLT (Consolidation of Workers Laws), such as non-payment of additional salary of unhealthy and dangerous activities, excessive working days, etc. This is currently being questioned through the courts by the trade union Sindicelpa (Trade Union of Workers in the Pulp and Paper Industry);
  • non-compliance with environmental monitoring and permits.

These problems given an indication of the large range of uncertainties, fear and violence present in the studied region, affected by Bahia Pulp. Moreover, the peasants and small landowners in the region suffer from regular difficulties because of serious drought and lack of infra-structure in order to guarantee food security, both in the rural as well as in the urban areas.

The interviewees quoted in this report, whether they are workers, inhabitants, rural quilombola [3] or peasant communities are anonymous in order to protect their safety. We have tried to present the main problems and perceptions given to us during the interviews. [4]

History of the undertaking

Bahia Pulp is one of nine pulp mills in the state of Bahia. Built in the Petrochemical Complex of Camaçari, 50 kilometres from Salvador and about 100 kilometres from its eucalyptus plantations [5], Bahia Pulp S.A. consists of the joining of the pulp mill of Bacell, owned by the Klabin Group, with the forestry company Copener, owned by Braskem. In October 2003, Sateri International bought both companies. [6] Sateri International is owned by RGM International Group PTE, which has its headquarters in Singapore.

Bahia Pulp produces soluble cellulose (under the trademark Soluccel) which is used as a raw material in the production of a wide range of products including textile filaments, food, pharmaceutical products, special cellulose products, acetate and so on. The production capacity of the company is 115,000 tonnes a year and the company is currently expanding its capacity to produce 365,000 tonnes a year – an increase of 200,000 tonnes a year. [7] In 2005, the existing Operation Permit (file nr. 2005-00664/TEC/RLO-0065) was renewed for another 5 years but the production level remained at 115,000 tonnes a year, with no mention of the expansion in capacity. This despite the fact that the expansion was already under way and a Protocol of Intentions was signed with the Bahia state government in June 2004, mentioning productivity aims 3 times more than the present level. Construction of the expansion started in 2005.

In April 2006, BNDES approved US$212.9 million financing to Bahia Pulp. The total cost of the expansion is US$466.14 million. [8]

Different institutions have produced different estimates for the number of jobs created by Bahia Pulp:

  • the Register of the Industries of the Federation of Industries of the State of Bahia (FIEB) indicates that Bahia Pulp has 279 employees and Copener Florestal Ltda 119. [9]
  • The Commercial Association of Bahia states that Bahia Pulp creates 450 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs, including plantation activities. The expansion will create an extra 200 new direct jobs. [10]
  • The company itself estimates that 800 direct jobs will be created by the expansion, in addition to the 380 already existing direct jobs at the pulp mill and in the plantations. More than 3,500 indirect jobs will be created, including the temporary jobs created for the construction activities at the pulp mill complex.
  • According to the trade union Sindicelpa, Bahia Pulp has about 140 direct workers at the pulp mill, and 400 direct and indirect workers in the plantations; between 3,000 and 4,000 temporary jobs are created by the expansion of the pulp mill production capacity.

Obtaining precise figures for job creation in the pulp and plantation sector is quite common. [11] When pulp mill construction is involved, there exists a tendency to overestimate the number of jobs created and many of the jobs created are in any case temporary.

The vast majority of the dissolvable pulp (95 per cent) will be exported to countries in Asia, North America and Europe, according to general director of Bahia Pulp, Erton Sanches.

Some sources indicate the forestry company Copener [12], now Bahia Pulp, owns a total of 67,000 hectares of industrial tree plantations. Other sources state that the company bought another 23,000 hectares, bringing the total area of plantations to 90,000 hectares. However, the company itself states that it owns a total of 153,000 hectares in 21 municipalities, including permanent preservation and legal reserve areas. The company has a coordinating office in Alagoinhas. Company directors promised in the local press that the expansion of the plantations area will continue “in order to match the production increase”.

According to company president Josmar Verillo [13], a larger area of plantations is required to produce dissolvable pulp than to produce pulp for paper manufacture. Bahia Pulp is out-sourcing the planting of eucalyptus (on farmers’ land) as well as renting lands (if the owner does not want to sell).

Diagnosis of social and environmental conflicts in relation to tree plantations, coordinated by the consultant Anna Fanzeres for the Brazilian Ministry of Environment in 2004

The case of Bahia Pulp happened in the municipality of Inhambupê in June 2004 and is in the following way described by the company, according to its response sent to us:

‘The invaded area was the Farm Matinha. In the negotiation we proved both that the farm is productive (plantation of eucalyptus), as well as that the other areas were registered as legal reserve and permanent preservation areas (if invaded, it is a federal crime against environment). As the group was from the MST (Movement of Landless Peasants), we also invited for the meeting the intelligence sector of the Military Police (to guarantee the public order), our lawyer, the secretary of environment of the municipality of Alagoinhas (from the PT – Workers Party) and the regional leader of the MST. In the face of a judicial order, previously requested, and with an alternative area arranged by the municipality of Alagoinhas, the MST, after the meeting, left the occupied area at nightfall. The whole operation was accompanied by our guards in charge for the vigilance of our properties.

Concerning the plantation areas that belong at present to Bahia Pulp and to other companies, we also found information about the complaints of five community associations in the region of Sauípe (northern coastal area): – Communitarian Association of Rural Producers and Workers of the Mid-Sauípe region; Association of Small Peasants of Curralinho and neighborhood; Association of Inhabitants of Sauípe; Association of Inhabitants and Friends of Massarandupió; and Association of Artists of Sauípe. These associations, through a written document, claim support from the competent authorities and from society in general. The text of the document is as follows:

‘We are more than 300 small land occupiers, members of Associations, some of which are active in the region for more than 5 years, and we occupy an area of land which is located between the Forte Beach and the Massarandupió Beach, close to the margins of the Linha Verde. Besides being part of the Mata Atlântica region, this land is also considered to be an Environmental Protection Area of the Northern Coastal Area. The main objective of these associations is to promote the well-being of the community and the sustainable development of the region in an ordered and planned way, trying to reduce the negative impacts on the wild fauna and flora, establishing compensatory refuges for the fauna, preventing harm to the environment . . . . For that, we seek partnerships with the Bank of the Northeast and the EBDA, and with organizations related with permaculture and organic agriculture through which courses and presentations were realized that counted with the active participation of the community. The association members are land occupiers who retain from the land their subsistence, some of them are struggling and resisting for more than 30 years to the investments of companies such as Barreto de Araújo, COPENER, Indústria de Papéis Santo Amaro and, at present, KLABIN BACELL S.A. and PACAB BRASIL LTDA. In October 2001, the community was surprised by the news, through the newspapers, that the areas they occupied, together with others, in total 18 thousand hectares, would be auctioned by the bankrupted Indústria de Papéis Santo Amaro. Once again threatened, the land occupiers tried to protect their rights, sending a letter to the local Judge of the Civil Court of Santo Amaro, Mrs. Maria do Carmo Caribe, through the lawyer Dr. Maria Antônia dos Santos Ferreira (OAB-BA 6910). In total disrespect of the law, employees of KLABIN BACELL S.A. and PACAB BRASIL LTDA., with chain-saws, accompanied by heavily armed men, started to intimidate the land occupiers through threats, destroying fences, plantations and houses in an attempt to expel them. In the face of this situation, Ms. Maria Antônio, the legal representative of the land occupiers, went to court with a request for a decision to maintain the land occupiers on the lands, this time presented to the Court of Mata de São João, according to a document dated 27 November 2001. The land occupiers continued to suffer from threats, aggression and destruction of property. It is a real act of vandalism and disrespect to justice that is being practiced by these companies in the region (KLABIN BACELL S.A. and PACAB BRASIL LTDA.). In the month of April 2002, the newspaper A Tarde published the first of a sequence of publications about the events. With the publication of the facts, the movement of the land occupiers was strengthened. Ms. Dr. Laura Scallda Ferri Pessoa Ferraz, Judge of the Court of Mata de São João, planned a hearing on 9 August 2002. KLABIN, through its representatives, entered into the area on 19 July 2002 with two big tractors and reinitiated the process of destruction, aiming at not only the houses, crops and belongings of the land occupiers, but also the Atlantic Rainforest in itself. With the two tractors moving forward with a big chain between them, a very well-known process, a few days are sufficient for large-scale destruction. Thanks to the commitment of Dr. Aurivana Curvelo, Prosecutor of the Court of Mata de São João, and the collaboration of the environmental police department in the Forte Beach, on 22 (Monday) August, the criminal act was interrupted. However, the respite took only little time, once the tractors restarted the destruction 8 days later on 29 July. The following day, 30 July 2002, informed by the lawyer of the land occupiers, the Prosecutor of the Court of Mata de São João, Dr. Aurivana Curvelo, sent a letter to IBAMA, requesting an inspection of the place.

We did not find more information about the outcome of this case and the environmental and social organizations that are active in the region and which also were contacted did not send any more information about the case until the end of this Diagnosis. [14]

Workers in the Construction sector

On 16 March 2007, construction workers hired for the expansion of the pulp mill at Camaçari went on strike. Apart from demanding higher salaries and better working conditions, workers are also demanding payments for the danger and health risks associated with working on the pulp mill construction site. On the construction site, workers are exposed to the toxic gases produced from the existing pulp mill. “Many workers have almost fainted,” says one of the directors of the trade union. “The company has the obligation to pay, but does not pay.” Other workers complain that they have colleagues who have skin problems because of the absorption of vapour and chemicals. One worker said, “The whole body gets covered with blisters, I know it is because of the pollution of the mill which we are being exposed to, but the directors of the company say that it is caused by heat. I know it is not, because if it was heat we all would be covered with blisters. It is the lime dust, accumulated on our body”.

The workers, interviewed during the strike, complained that in cases of accidents the companies do not send the Communication of Accident at Work (CAT), which is an obligatory document to describe accidents. The Trade Union of Workers in the Civil Construction Sector (SINDITICCC) requested a meeting with the Regional Control Office for Labor Conditions (DRT, an institution of the Ministry of Work and Employment) to discuss the issue, since several workers were dismissed with health problems without having received any assistance from the company.

The workers told us of a series of complaints. They have to drink hot water, because the companies do not provide cold water. The companies delay the payment of the salaries by as long as 12 days. The companies delay the provision of food baskets. These baskets should be handed over between the 1st and 5th day of the month, but on the day of the strike (16 March 2007), the workers had still not received the food baskets. The companies restricted the number of uniforms to only one (this number normally should be 2 or 3). In case of dismissal, the worker who occupies the job in the place of the one who leaves the job receives the same uniform, often in bad condition. The companies do not include a six per cent salary rise that was agreed. They also discount from the workers the contribution to the social welfare department of the state (INSS), but they do not pass this contribution to this state department.

Workers in the pulp industry

Directors of Sindicelpa in Camaçari state that a large majority of the pulp mill workers come from other places in the state and in the country. However, the workers said that through a recent agreement the company promises to guarantee that at least one-third of the people employed will be inhabitants of Camaçari. The agreement consists of fiscal incentives offered by the local Municipality, which will reduce the Tax on Services (ISS) from five per cent to two per cent, so that the company can contract people from the town where the company is based. The pulp mill workers have gone on strike several times for higher salaries and improved working conditions, including the unification of the working day, that according to the CLT can be six hours continuous and/or eight hours (with an interval for rest), with one additional shift. The workers of the pulp mill claim an extra work shift, which means normal working days of six hours.

The direction of Sindicelpa said that three collective court cases are currently being processed. The court cases refer to health and safety at work and include public criticisms of the company’s lack of commitment to the safety of the workers. One of the cases (nr. 1427/1999/133/05) is already in the final judgment phase, in the capital Brasília.

One worker, who is a member of the Internal Commission for the Prevention of Accidents at Work (CIPA) from Bahia Pulp, stated that there have been fatalities at the pulp mill (at least three people died), caused by the lack of maintenance of equipment (piling up machines, boilers, presses, etc.), leakages [15] of liquors and hot pulp (cases of overflow happen in the production of these materials) and long working days [16] of more than 12 hours, increasing the lack of safety at the working place. Besides denying workers’ rights, the company is eroding rights in the Collective Agreement between the company and the workers. The last salary raise (3.35 per cent) was only guaranteed with the intervention of the Regional Control Office for Labor Conditions (DRT).

According to Sindicelpa, the pulp mill until now functioned with a chemical treatment using ozone, but will start functioning with chlorine, sulphur, etc., using the Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) process.

The directors of the trade union stated that the constant emissions of gases and particle materials, are caused by problems of maintenance in the “Electrostatic Precipitators”. The information given is that the installed equipments constantly present faults and pollute the air with strong odours and chemical materials. “And always, when this happens, it affects the population that lives, there behind, in Lamarão”, a village 10 to 15 kilometres from the pulp mill. They also said that at the area of the pulp mill eight deep water wells exist – sources of water for the industrial production process – and the company requested an environmental permit for digging more wells, which, according to the workers, was denied by the responsible state authority Centre of Environmental Resources (CRA).

Rural Workers of the MST in Camaçari

Leaders of the MST in the region accuse the plantation companies, including Bahia Pulp which is buying more lands, of stimulating the concentration of lands in the hands of only few landowners. They are demanding a change in the present criteria for evaluating whether land is productive or unproductive. They are also demanding a change and/or substitution of the MP 2.027/20001 which does not permit that land occupied (by the MST or other movements) to be used for land reform purposes. The present criteria intensify the conflicts by making land reform impracticable in the region. One of the conflicts pointed out as critical is the case that happened in Santa Luz, where ex-farms of “Sisal” which were occupied by rural landless workers, and where these workers and their families were settled afterwards.

Because of the difficulty of finding lands for land reform, landless workers cut pine plantations in the region and have occupied some of these areas. One of the areas is the camp “20 mil”, one of the tent camps, close to the division of Dias D’Ávila with Camaçari. One of the MST leaders said that “in 2004, a big farmer who was police chief, shot and set fire to the tents and expelled the people from the MLT [17] from that place”.

Although we have photographs of pine and eucalyptus plantations in the municipality of Camaçari, some sources claim that these plantations do not exist. However the Bahia Pulp company is buying more lands and already has plantations at the division of Dias D´Ávila and Camaçari, although it is not clear if these are eucalyptus and/or pine plantations. The business strategies of the Bahia Pulp company – apparently keeping society badly informed with contradictory declarations and publications about how many hectares of lands they possess, or even how much they produce in relation to the size and productivity of their plantations – are similar to what other companies of the same sector practice.

Rural Workers of MST in Catú and Alagoinhas

Local MST leaders note that plantations are creating problems for people living in tent camps, for example in the case of the tent camp Oziel Alves, located in lands that are being explored by the oil company Petrobrás. The landless workers have been struggling for more than seven years, demanding that the more than 35 families, coming from the urban peripheries in the region, get settled. “We are here already for seven years in this tent camp and we have not succeeded in getting another area talking with the INCRA. That is the conclusion to which we reached,“ said one of landless workers. The waiting time on the present location of this tent’s camp (close to Alagoinhas) is already 11 months.

The MST leaders said that a small group of members of the town council of Alagoinhas is trying to maintain an approved law that restricts the plantation of eucalyptus to eight per cent of the municipality, while at the same time they point out that plantations already occupy more than 11 per cent of the municipality’s land. They said that “in the last discussion in the Town Council, all members of the town council, because of the struggle – demonstrations and manifestations of social movements – were against the expansion of the plantations in Alagoinhas”, since they already see the problems caused by this monoculture. We sometimes hear that it is difficult to arrange agricultural lands for land reform purposes [18] and “we know that there are ‘terras devolutas’ – lands that belong to the state and should be expropriated for land reform – but we do not know where these lands are located”. The MST leaders also said that the support they receive from the STR (Rural Workers Trade Union) of Alagoinhas is very important and that this trade union has been supporting important demonstrations against the eucalyptus monoculture in the region. Even so, there is no consultation with these and other trade unions in the region, before the environmental permit concession is awarded.

Rural Workers of Alagoinhas

The rural workers of Alagoinhas, one of the most affected municipalities by the extensive eucalyptus plantations, criticise the social, environmental and cultural disasters, caused by these plantations: “In the beginning, between three and five years of plantation, everybody kept silent. But at that time started the discussion about this issue in meetings with the trade union, associations and the struggle started.”

In this municipality, the eucalyptus monoculture affects several ecossystems [19] and traditional rural populations, has destroyed and is destroying biological diversity, created continuous waves of migration [20] and rural exodus of families to the urban towns where misery, unemployment and hunger is growing.

The workers said that public hearings took place and, at the last one, a document was written with the people from Inhambupe, but “they stopped [with the demonstrations] because the Judge awarded the case to Copener. Copener wins in an illegal and deceiving way”. They criticise the concentration of lands by the eucalyptus monoculture that have led to a large increase in land prices. At present, one alqueire [21] is being sold for R$150,000, doubling, and sometimes even trebling the price of the lands, depending on the location. They were also concerned that in areas close to Aramari and Alagoinhas “they are destructing forest, bush and planting eucalyptus close to the town, in the urban zone, close to the roads and the inhabitants already are afraid to take a bus to go somewhere, because there is violence in the eucalyptus plantations”.

The STR (Rural Workers Trade Union) of Alagoinhas is concerned that Bahia Pulp states that it will plant 150,000 hectares. For the STR, the work of planting eucalyptus is “considered as slave labour because the workers need to leave at 3 a.m.”. Another serious complaint is in relation with the contact with the company and the waiting time for decisions, for example, when they make a request for firewood – or other types of wood for agriculture. Apparently the request goes to the head-office of the company (in Singapore) and only after a long time is any response given.

The workers told us about the contracts that beekeepers have to sign – beekeeping is supposedly one of the “social investments” of Bahia Pulp, published as being implemented in the municipality of Alagoinhas and region. The workers said that the contract holds the beekeepers responsible for any harm to the ‘property of the company’. Some associations and cooperatives signed the document even though it jeopardizes the sustainability of the activity. In the words of the workers of the trade union, “the beekeepers transformed themselves into guards and are responsible for the plantations”.

They also complain that in the municipality of Entre Rios (and in other municipalities in the region where the plantations are concentrated), 90 per cent of the agricultural lands are occupied by pine [22] and eucalyptus plantations, in many cases in an illegal way in Environmental Protection Areas (EPAs) and in Permanent Preservation Areas [PPAs].

Rural community of Ladeira Grande – Alagoinhas

In the community of Ladeira Grande, 17 families are living in subhuman conditions, because of the lack of water for human consumption and even for animal consumption, since the company Copener, responsible for the plantations, forbids people to look for the little water that accumulates on the company’s land. The areas are watched by the company’s guards. “Before the plantation, we had several water reservoirs that supplied us the whole year long. After the eucalyptus was planted, many of these reservoirs dried up, as at present these ones you can see. The company makes reservoirs in each unit of the plantation to guarantee water for the eucalyptus, since this tree needs a lot of water.”

Another complaint of the community is the non-compliance with the environmental legislation and the road legislation, since the companies plant eucalyptus in Permanent Preservation Areas and at the edges of the roads. [23] “We are scared to pass by these roads in certain times of the day, because the eucalyptus plantation serves as a hiding place for criminals and even dead bodies” said a villager who has lived for 48 years in the community and who shows his indignation with the closing of a traditional road that shortened the route to the town of Alagoinhas.

In the opinion of an Agrarian Technician, who coordinates the Association of Small Producers of Alagoinhas: “The disorganised plantations of eucalyptus trees led to the destruction of traditional production systems of food, which gave dynamism to the local economies and maintained the workers in the rural areas. The pillars of sustainability of the traditional family agriculture, constructed over centuries and in harmony with the ecosystems and its agro-environmental limits, such as subsistence from collection of various fruits like mangaba, cashew and so on, was changed, causing social, economic, cultural and environmental problems, in such a way that the natural resources, the biodiversity of the fauna, flora, soils and especially water, are scarce. This leads to imbalance and poverty in all levels”. The villagers, small scale farmers, affirm that forests were cut in order to be replaced by eucalyptus.

The Rural Workers Trade Union (STR), members of the Federation of Rural Workers in Family Agriculture (FETRAF), as well as the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), regret the situation of the region because of its involvement with the eucalyptus monoculture. Many communities are without water, since the rainfall in part of the region is low (about 800 mm/year) and the peasants, in general, are located far away from the main water sources, without even having access or having available in the community a water well with safe water for human consumption. The villagers receive promises (for the past seven years) from the Municipality that a well will be dug, but until now this has not happened. Instead, a water tank has been installed in the community and is supplied irregularly each 7-15 days.

Quilombola community of Alagoinhas and Aramari

The Quilombola [24] community of Topo and Catuzinho continues its traditions, in spite of a lot of suffering, according to some villagers. The community is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations and already suffers from the lack of water. One of the oldest quilombolas affirms that “when Copener [25] planted eucalyptus at the spring of the river, in a short time the river dried up”. When we visited the area, we noticed that the main springs of the Catuzinho River were, in fact, dried up. The river basin, that was previously subject to flooding is now dried up, sandy and unfertile.

We followed the main borders of the community and noticed, besides the isolation by the plantations, that the community is divided in two areas by a eucalyptus plantation, that formerly was sold by big farmers in the region. From these neighboring plantations, that isolate the community, the company permits (the only case that we had notice of, since in other communities all denied this practice) that the quilombola villagers pick up firewood – used for manioc flour production and for domestic fires.

Another problem that the quilombola villagers told us about was the traffic of trucks with eucalyptus wood through the communities. The Municipality of Alagoinhas, in agreement with the villagers, constructed a road that cuts through the middle the community. The road was constructed in front of the main buildings of the community (church, school and community centre for meetings) to facilitate the extraction of wood from the plantations. Villagers told us of the danger that the truck traffic is causing because of the constant movement of school children, who also play in this area.

Final considerations

The information, collected through interviews, statements, photographs, news and other documents, confirmed the existence of the activity of pine and eucalyptus monoculture plantations since the 1970s.

In June 2004, state Governor Paulo Souto declared to the official press and other media in the state of Bahia that “They just succeeded in buying an extensive area which already is reforested in the whole Northern region, giving the possibility to treble or increase by four times the production of the Industrial Complex in Camaçari. This shows in a very clear way the fact that companies make new investments in Bahia because of the reliability [26] of the government, because of the work capacity of the people and because of the natural conditions that our state possesses.” [27] This statement confirms the declaration of the president of the company Josmar Verillo who reveals, in an interview, that “the plantations are being expanded from 67 thousand hectares to 90 thousand hectares; a eucalyptus plantation bought in the coastal region north of Salvador, forest planted in the 1970s to supply Copene.” [28] Based on these statements, the support of the state of Bahia for “development” which benefits the pulp and paper sector.

There is an incessant concern with the quality of the economic process, sustained by the marketing of the Bahia Pulp S.A. company. Perhaps one reason for this is that the pulp sector is one of the most “aggressive” industrial segments (a fact also notes by public administrators) considering the potential of pollution and monoculture. The pulp sector’s rural and urban activities are carried out through the use of the concept “agribusiness” in the present economic system.

The demonstrations, contrary to this economic model, concerning legal non-compliance in workers rights, economic, political, social, cultural and environmental fields, testifies against the activities of Bahia Pulp S.A. in the region.

This report, based on a survey with different groups of people, was realized in a very short time and restricted space: only 3 days, passing through several municipalities and spending most of the time in only 4 municipalities (Camaçari, Aramari, Catú and Alagoinhas). However, the region where the company is active is as big as 21 municipalities. Therefore we suggest that new and more in depth surveys are carried out in the region in its totality (at the location of the pulp mill and in the neighborhood, and around the eucalyptus plantation areas).

Although the content of the present report has a preliminary character, the diverse information collected through interviews, statements, photographs, news and field visits, describe a similar situation as we can notice in the case of other companies of the same sector which are active in Brazil. And even as a preliminary attempt, this report confirms the existence of problems and irregularities in the activities developed by the company Bahia Pulp and its former companies since the 1970s. And finally, we tried in this report to produce a result that is in accordance with the reality that we have seen and met.


[1] Cepedes – Centre for Studies about Development in the Extreme South of Bahia. CDDH-Tx. de Freitas – Centre for the Defense of Human Rights in Teixeira de Freitas (Bahia). The research was commissioned by urgewald.

[2] EMFLORA – Empresa Empreendimentos Florstais Ltda., Condor Serviços Florestais Ltda., among others.

[3] Quilombolas are descendants of African slaves who fled from plantation areas during the colonial time and founded ‘free’ and autonomous communities (called ‘quilombos’), often within forest areas. Art. 68 of the present Brazilian constitution protects and recognizes these communities; the government is responsible for guaranteeing this recognition and for demarcating the community lands.

[4] We carried out interviews with workers at the Bahia Pulp mill, workers on the construction area and at the existing pulp mill complex, trade union leaders, leaders of associations of rural producers, people from the settlement at Ladeira Grande (municipality of Alagoinhas), landless people living in tent camps at Oziel Alves (municipality of Alagoinhas), Quilombola communities of Topo and Catuzinho (at the border between the municipalities of Alagoinhas and Aramari), and inhabitants of the following affected municipalities: Camaçari, Alagoinhas, Aramari and Inhambupe.

[5] The company owns plantations in 21 municipalities, among which Camaçari, Dias D´Avila, Mata de São João, Pojuca, Catu, São Sebastião do Pacé, Alagoinhas, Aramari, Inhambupe, Esplanada, Entre Rios, Cardeal, Rio Real, Ouriçangas, Itanagra, Araçás, Olindina. Some processed wood is also bought from other companies.

[6] “Bahia Pulp approves US$ 400 million investment in Camaçari“, Valor Econômico Newspaper, 19 February 2006.

[7] At 365,000 tonnes a year, Bahia Pulp will be among the world’s largest producers of dissolvable pulp, with about 9 per cent of total world production. Most dissolvable pulp mills produce between 80,000 and 200,000 tonnes a year. The exception being Sappi Saiccor in South Africa which is currently being expanded to produce 800,000 tonnes a year. (“Bahia Pulp faz ampliação para suprir demanda global“.)

[8] “Brazil BNDES Approves $212.9 Mln Financing to Bahia Pulp”, Latin America News Digest , 25 April 2006.

[9] Bahia Pulp S/A, Copener Florestal Ltda.

[10] Bahia Pulp, Associação Commercial da Bahia.

[11] See, for example, De’Nadai, Alacir, Winifridus Overbeek and Luiz Alberto Soares “Promises of Jobs and Destruction of Work: The case of Aracruz in Brazil”, World Rainforest Movement, May 2005.

[12] According to several sources, Copener and other companies have been active in the region for more than 30 years.

[13] “Bahia Pulp faz ampliação para suprir demanda global“.

[14] Quotation from the Final Report of Consultancy of the survey of Anna Fanzeres, consultant of the National Program of Forests of the Secretary of Biodiversity and Forests of the Ministry of Environment/Project MMA/FAO/TCP/BRA/2902, pages 112-113.

[15] Recently, a worker suffered burns over a large part of his body. He is undergoing treatment but full recovery will be impossible.

[16] The workers demand the introduction of one more working shift, but the company rejects this appeal.

[17] The MLT – Movement of Struggle for Land, originated in 1994 in the south of Bahia from the crisis of unemployment created by the fall in productivity of cacao plantations, caused by pest attacks, and other economic problems.

[18] From the way rural workers talked about this situation, we noticed that there seems to be an ideological trick behind the phrase “difficulty in arranging lands for land reform”, being spread, strategically and informally, by companies, big farmers and governmental representatives; it is a contradiction in the face of the existence of ‘devolutas’ lands in the region (lands that belong to the state and should be expropriated for land reform purposes).

[19] The region is a mixture of dryer savannah (cerrado) and catinga ecosystems and the atlantic rainforest (mata atântica). In terms of rainfall, the region has three regions: an irregular rainfall of 800-900 mm a year, an intermediate area between the coastal region and the dry interior of the state with 1200-1500 mm rainfall a year, and the humid litoranian region (1600-2000 mm a year).

[20] A school survey carried out in the outskirts of urban areas found that out of every 10 people who live in the periphery, eight came from the rural areas after their lands had been taken over by eucalyptus monoculture.

[21] An alqueira is a traditional unit of land area in Portugal and Brazil, which is commonly to measure farmland in Brazil. The area of an alqueira varies depending on the region: One alqueire equals 2.42 hectares (5.980 acres) in São Paulo; 4.84 hectares (11.960 acres) in Río de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Goiás; 9.68 hectares (23.920 acres) in Bahía, and 2.7225 hectares (6.728 acres) in the northern part of the country. (Taken from Russ Rowlett, “A Dictionary of Units of Measurement“, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)

[22] We did not find out for sure if Copener or Bahia Pulp has pine plantations, but in the Tecnological Tourism Report of Entre Rios from 2004, “in the Northern Coastal Subregion exist five undertakings linked to the reforestation activities. The major pine plantation, occupying an area of 10,536 hectares, belongs to the Papéis Santo Amaro Industry and is located in Entre Rios. The Reflora, the second company em terms of area planted with pine, has about 3,275 hectares in Conde and 3,439 hectares in Esplanada. Copener is the only reforesting company based on eucalyptus and owns a planted area of 2,576 hectares, also in Entre Rios. While the plantations of Copener, Durafloresa and the Papéis Santo Amaro Industry supply raw material for pulp production, Reflora’s pine plantations are for energy purposes and to supply sawmills. Entre Rios, together with Esplanada and Itanagra, are the municipalities with the major area of properties of reforesting companies. Source: Sebrae – Parceiro dos brasileiros.

[23] The distances used are minimal. Trees are planted right up to the edge of the roads. This is, therefore, illegal. We also noticed non-compliance with the legal distances established for permanent preservation areas, according to Brazilian Forest Law 4.771/65.

[24] Quilombolas are descendants of African slaves who fled from plantation areas during colonial times and founded ‘free’ and autonomous communities (called ‘quilombos’), often within forest areas. The present Brazilian constitution (Art. 68) protects and recognizes these communities; the government is responsible for guaranteeing this recognition and demarcating the community’s lands.

[25] When refering to the plantations, villagers mention Copener, but there exist (or existed) other private and out-sourced companies which also established plantations.

[26] “Reliability”, in the case of several “carlistas” governments – from Antônio Carlos Magalhães, politician who has been controlling politically and economically the state of Bahia for several decades – which exercise right-wing ‘dictatorships’ in the state of Bahia, can be understood as a word synonymous to reduction of taxes, exchange of political favors, financing of political campaigns, etc.

[27] “Bahia Pulp quer expandir produção de celulose em Camaçari”, 02/06/2004, Bahia Invest website.

[28] “Bahia Pulp faz ampliação para suprir demanda global“.

Further reading


  1. […] Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza and João Luiz Monti. Bahia Pulp S.A. (Brazil). Pulp Inc. 14th May, […]

  2. […] Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza and João Luiz Monti. Bahia Pulp S.A. (Brazil). Pulp Inc. 14th May, […]

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