Each year, 21 September is the international day against tree monocultures. Friends of the Earth International put out the press release (below), with links to a series of videos on the impacts of plantations (in Spanish).

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A new video from Global Justice Ecology Project about GE trees in the USA. The video was released on 21 September 2010 – International Day Against Tree Monocultures.

GJEP’s press release is available here.

United Fiber (UFS) has announced that it has “put on hold” its plans to build a new pulp mill in South Kalimantan in Indonesia. The plan had been severely criticised by NGOs over several years and the company was mired in controversy – as this profile of the company, that I wrote three years ago, reveals.
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The long running saga of Gunns‘ proposed pulp mill continues. Yesterday, the company’s new chief executive, Greg L’Estrange, announced that Gunns would stop logging native forests:

“This may well mean transitioning to plantations. But move we must for the conflict must end for too many people have been financially and emotionally injured in the Australian forest wars.

The announcement that Gunns will stop logging native forests is good news, welcomed by the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Environment Tasmania (see press release, below). But this does not mean a stop to the plans for a new pulp mill. And a vast area of industrial tree plantations feeding a polluting pulp mill is not good news. In 2009, Gunns took over eight Great Southern plantation schemes in Victoria and South Australia after Great Southern went bust.

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There’s a fascinating article in this month’s World Rainforest Movement Bulletin about community run Benzoin forest gardens in Sumatra and how these are currently under threat because of the expansion of eucalyptus plantations to feed Toba Pulp Lestari’s pulp mill.

The benzoin farmers are standing up for their rights. They are defending their territories and livelihoods.

To support their struggles, visit the Haminjon Tano Batak facebook page.

Or support the cause on causes.com.

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My most recent article for the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin is now posted on chrislang.org. There was so much wrong with the report that the FAO commissioned, it was difficult to know where to start.

How FAO helps greenwash the timber industry’s greenhouse gas emissions

The FAO uses tax payers’ money to promote the timber and pulp and paper industries.

By Chris Lang. Published in WRM Bulletin 157, August 2010

Faced with greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the production chain, the timber industry has a choice. It could look at reducing emissions. Or it could attempt to greenwash its operations, in effect attempting to evade responsibility. Perhaps not surprisingly, given its record, the industry is opting for the latter.

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Earlier this year Geashpere and EcoDoc Africa released a great video about the impact of industrial tree plantations on water in the Jonkershoek Valley:

Plantation Trees and Water Use: Seventy years of Jonkershoek Paired Catchment Experiments
A Tour with Arthur Chapman

Plantations use significant amounts of water and South Africa is an arid country. In this documentary Arthur Chapman from One World Sustainable Investments (previously CSIR) takes us on a tour and shares with us the background of seventy years of hydrological research in the Jonkershoek Valley and how the paired catchment experiments work, and how much water trees really use. The intention of the documentary is educational, and to be used as a platform for further discussions.

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There are many reasons why the pulp industry is moving South. “Were it not for labour unions at home, we would be moving all of our production capacity to countries like Brazil,” a Stora Enso official told the Financial Times in 2005. I discussed this issue in a report I wrote a couple of years ago: “Plantations, Poverty and Power“.

One of the reasons is that fast-growing tree plantations in Brazil are precisely that: fast-growing. Recently, a colleague sent me the chart below, which illustrates the point very well. It compares the area of plantations needed to provide enough raw material to produce one million tonnes of pulp a year in Scandinavia, Portugal and Brazil:

Source: Sergio Schlesinger presentation at FASE workshop on climate change, energy and agrobusiness in Brazil, April 2010, based on information from Pöyry.

Don’t buy APP paper!

Posted: 3 August 2010 in APP, Europe

In July 2010, a group of more than 35 European environmental and social organisations signed a letter to paper buyers in Europe informing them of the risks associated with Asia Pulp and Paper’s environmental record. The letter is attached (pdf file, 2 MB).

PHOTO: Greenpeace

To feed its pulp and paper mills, Sinar Mas has cleared huge swaths of rainforest and tiger habitat such as here in Riau, Sumatra (PT Artelindo Wiratama, 22 April 2010, © Greenpeace)

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