Negative impacts of monoculture tree plantations on women – three new WRM studies

Posted: 13 March 2009 in Brazil, Gender, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea

7 March 2009
World Rainforest Movement
Friends of the Earth International

PRESS RELEASE

Negative impacts of monoculture tree plantations on women
Three new case studies on three continents

7 March 2009 – Three new case studies on the impacts of monoculture tree plantations on women in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Brazil will be released on 8 March, International Women’s Day.

The case studies (1) and a related short video (2), available online at www.wrm.org [and http://www.foei.org], are jointly published by the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and Friends of the Earth International.

International 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.

The three new case studies carried out on three continents demonstrate that women who live near monoculture tree plantations are very negatively affected by them.

NIGERIA

The case study from Nigeria is focused on the Iguóbazuwa Forest Reserve, a highly biologically diverse region in the southwest 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.

A local woman described the situation like this: “Michelin came with its evil bulldozers and destroyed everything I had planted. I was crying…I was trying to stop them; they threatened to bulldoze me with their caterpillar if I didn’t allow them.”

BRAZIL

The case study from Brazil states that 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 Enso, 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 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 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.

IN GENERAL

Monoculture tree plantations are primarily geared towards meeting the high levels of consumption in Western countries. The European Union plays a key role in this, due to policies that promote plantations and that benefit, above all, the transnational corporations that export, process and market the products harvested from the plantations.

By publishing these new case studies, WRM and FoEI want to expose the unsustainability of policies promoting tree plantations that do not benefit local communities, and to highlight the crucial role of food sovereignty, collective rights and gender equality as the foundations of sustainable societies.


(1) The summarized version of the report is available here.

The full report is available here.

(2) The video can be accessed here.

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Comments
  1. Samuel Ovia says:

    Years of subsistence farming on this supposedly forest reseave never took the women of Iguobasuwa beyond the poverty line because they were mainly exhausting the natural resource of this government reserve area without inputing anything to sustain the ecosystem.

    Corporate farming with pereniel tree restores the environment and provides paid employment for the locales thereby lifting them above their peers.

    All those with economic crop in this area though illegal-“Forest Reserve” smiled home with thousands of Naira as compensation paid by the company-enough to jump start any micro economic venture or alternative engagement.
    Only enemies of progress can make the reported retrogressive comment view against the millions of Euro being invested in this area to develop our people with an environmentally friendly industry-Rubber plantation.

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