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Tree Plantations Are The Problem, Not The Solution


COSTA RICA – Today, Friends of the Earth International, together with many social movements around the world, are celebrating the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations. This annual event aims to expose the negative impacts caused by large-scale tree plantations on local communities and the environment. [1]

“We are campaigning in every continent to expose that large scale monoculture tree plantations have serious effects on the environment and local communities. They are not a solution to climate change nor to biodiversity loss. Tree plantations are a big concern in many countries,” said Isaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity Program.

“Friends of the Earth is taking action around the world: our groups in Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Mexico, the United States, Uganda, and Indonesia, among others, organize actions ranging from publicising new studies to demonstrating and other forms of public denunciation”, said Rojas.

According to a ground-breaking article in the leading scientific journal Nature published on September 14, the rapid conversion of tropical forests for timber production, agriculture, and other uses has caused dire consequences for tropical biodiversity. [2]

Friends of the Earth groups in Asia and Africa are fighting the expansion of palm oil tree plantations destined for agrofuel production, while Friends of the Earth groups in Latin America are fighting eucalyptus and other monoculture tree plantations grown for export. In Europe, Friends of the Earth is campaigning against consumerism, which is one of the underlying causes of the expansion of monoculture tree plantations.

“Instead of plantations, our groups are proposing the community management and use of forests and agroecology practices that return control of the territory to communities” said Rojas. “In this way we contribute to building sustainable societies different from the ruling consumerist model”.

“Tree plantations are becoming a new form of land grabbing” said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, co-coordinator of the land rights project of Friends of the Earth International. “Transnational corporations arrive in a certain territory, put a plantation there and bit by bit expand to cover vast areas of land. Communities who do not join the project often suffer threats. We have seen this in cases of landgrabbing from Colombia to Indonesia.”

“Community rights are violated when export oriented, profit driven tree plantations destroy the cultural and biological diversities maintained by the sustainable community management of forests. With tree plantations, corporations have captured access, control and management of forest land and resources, from communities, depriving them of their means of subsistence, and destroying the goods and services they had collectively benefited from forests” said Romel de Vera, co-coordinator of the land rights project of Friends of the Earth International.

Testimonies and case studies collected by Friends of the Earth groups show that plantations have very serious impacts on the local population and the environment, and they fail to fulfill the promises of job creation, sustainable development, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection.
“There is an underlying problem in the definition of forests used by the United Nations” said Sebastian Valdomir, coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International. “The definition includes plantations and therefore promotes them. It labels them as ’planted forests’. But tree plantations are not forests: they do not have the biodiversity of forests and they have nothing to offer to Indigenous Peoples and local peasant communities”.

Large-scale tree plantations are not compatible with the solutions urgently needed to tackle the climate crisis and to preserve biodiversity.
These solutions include:

- Implementing and promoting ’community management of forests’ (regulations and practices used by many communities for the conservation and sustainable use of forests);

- Implementing and promoting food sovereignty, which is the peoples’ right to sufficient, nutritious, healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally adequate food, as well as implementing the corresponding public policies;

- Stopping consumerism, which is one of the underlying causes of the expansion of monoculture tree plantations.

“This is a very significant year in the celebration of life, and in the celebration of the resistance against tree plantations” said Isaac Rojas. “Ricardo Carrere of the World Rainforest Movement died last August 16. He was one of the biggest advocates of this day and he made a huge contribution around the world to the struggle against monoculture tree plantations. Friends of the Earth and other social movements around the world remember him today. It is our tribute to a dear friend and colleague”.


[1] Several social movements declared September 21 ’The International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations’. Every year there are actions around the world to expose that large scale monoculture tree plantations have serious environmental, social, cultural as well as land grabbing impacts.

[2] An abstract of the study is online at


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