Friday, March 10, 2006


Vast eucalyptus monocultures are taking over giant swathes of the Brazilian landscape, feeding the pulp/paper and iron industries. Now 'forestry' corporations are claiming carbon credits for these green deserts, giving Western companies a license to burn more fossil fuels, at the expense of the indigenous people with a rightful claim to the land.

One of those "forestry corporations" is Aracruz Celulose. Aracruz Celulose is the world's leading producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp. The Company is responsible for 30% of the global supply of the product, used to manufacture printing and writing, tissue, and high value added specialty papers. It owns about 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres) of land across Brazil.

Corporate Watch points out, "Yet for some Aracruz is a leading light for 'sustainable development'. Aracruz is the world's largest producer of bleached eucalyptus 'kraft market pulp' and operates the world's largest pulp mill. The company's plantations in Rio Grande do Sul are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the company won an award for social responsibility from the Brazilian Ministry of Technology, Industry and Commerce. Aracruz is signed up to the UN's Global Compact and has had loans approved by World Bank's International Finance Corporation on the basis of its environmental record, and this is simply more evidence of international bureaucracy's blindness to the local impact of large scale plantations and its deafness to the voices of community activists."

The following article is a couple of days old, but I just found it and thought to pass it along.

The information is from La Via Campesina.

La Via Campesina women occupy a farm in South Brazil
Wednesday, 08 March 2006

About 2000 women from La Via Campesina occupied the plantation of Aracruz Celulose, in Barra do Ribeiro, Rio Grande do Sul (sur de Basil), early this wednesday morning. The purpose of the mobilization is to denounce the social and environmental impact of the growing green desert created by eucalyptus monocuture. The Barba Negra farm is the main production unit of seedslings of eucalyptus and pines of Aracruz. It also has a laboratory for seedlings cloning.

“We are against green deserts, the enormous plantations of eucalyptus, acácia and pines for cellulose, that cover t housandas of hectares in Brazil and Latin América. ‘When the green desert advancesm biodiversity is destroyed, soils deteriorate, rivers dry up. Moreover cellulose plants pollute air and water and threaten human health”, say the woman protestors.

The Aracruz Celulose is a business that owns the biggest green desert in the country. Its plantations cover more than 250 thousands hectares, 50 thousand just in Rio Grande do Sul. Their factories produce 2,4 million tons of whitened cellulose per year, generating pollution in the air and water, besides harming human health.

The women of La Via Campesina also protest in solidarity with the indigenous peoples who had their land invaded by Aracruz Celulose in the state of Espírito Santo. In January of this year, indigenous families were violently evicted by the Federal Police, who used machines from the company itself to carry out the eviction.

Aracruz is an agrobusiness company that receives public funds. It recieved almost R$ 2 billion in the last 3 years. However, a company like Aracruz generates only one job for each 185 hectares planted, whereas small scale farms generate one job per hectare.”If the green desert keeps growing, soon there won`t be enough water to drink and land to produce food. We just can`t understand how a government that wants to do away with hunger sponsors a green desert instead of investing in Agrarian Reform and peasant agriculture”, the manifesto declares.

The La Via Campesina mobilization is also occurring to denounce the environmental impacts of eucalyptus monoculture, that is making strides in Rio Grande do Sul with three large companies: Votorantim, Stora Enso and Aracruz. The eucalyptus deserts wear out the soil and consume too much water: each eucalyptus tree may consume 30 liters of water per day.

The women mobilization of La Via Campesina marks the International Day of Women. “ This March 8th, we express solidarity with rural women and urban working women of the whole world, who suffer violence of various kinds imposed on them by this capitalist and patriarchal society”, the text concludes.

After the mobilization the women of Via Campesina will join the International Women Day march, which starts at 10, in Porto Alegre.

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