Skip to content

Language switcher

Brief comments on two recent articles: 1. Editorial: Meeting global challenges in forestry / 2. The World (Fake) Forestry Congress

24 Sep, 2013
Posted in Biomass and Bioenergy, Blog, Forests, REDD

Here (below) are two articles from the latest FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) ‘Forestry News’ for your interest.

The first article quotes Tiina Vähänen, currently REDD Coordinator at the FAO, and formerly Senior Global Programme Officer at the UN-REDD Programme, who will preside over the World Forestry Congress in 2015. Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tML6P4Tt0tA . Though in this short interview, she comes over as somewhat sceptical of the potential of REDD+ to deliver equitable benefits to local communities.

Ms Vähänen states: “Forests and trees are renewable; they can help provide our growing global population with environmentally friendly fuel, fibre, food and plastics, as well as essential ecosystem services.”

However in this context “renewable” most likely refers to the practice of first allowing real forests to be cut or burned down, and then replaced with ‘renewable’ industrial timber or palm oil plantations.

When she refers to “environmentally friendly fuel, fibre, food and plastics”, no doubt this means the mass production of biomass-fuels (wood pellets), wood-pulp fibre for flush-away loo-paper and long-life disposable cellulose fibre nappies, chocolate bars made with palm oil produced from converted tropical forests, and eucalyptus wood fibre made into chemical cellulose (as a form of plastic).

There can be no doubt that “essential ecosystem services” refers simply to the problematic idea that forests and plantations are needed to provide a cheap way to supposedly offset the industrial carbon emissions of dirty polluting industries and transport systems, so that they that can then continue to dominate the global economy, making real energy efficient solutions more difficult to implement.

When she goes on to say: “The planet needs forests”, what is probably meant is that multinational corporations need access to a plentiful and cheap supply of raw materials from massive tree plantations, subsidised by Nature, poor local communities, and future generations.

And finally, when she declares: “Forests need to be conserved and, in many places, expanded, and used sustainably”, the giveaway is the word ‘expanded’. This can only mean that the ‘fake forest’ monoculture model will be used as an alternative to biodiverse real forests and thus allow the displacement of forest-dependent communities through land-grabbing, in order to establish more tree plantations.

The second article is less ambiguous, however a critical issue is the stated objective: “promotes the elaboration and world-wide acceptance of technical standards such as an international forestry terminology…”  This is a key concern as it is the incorrect terminology being touted by FAO that is used by governments and organisations to justify mis-using the word ‘forest’ to describe industrial tree monocultures, and thereby create confusion in peoples’ minds.

The WFC in 2015 will provide an important opportunity to for civil society to expose the true reasons why real forests are being lost, and to highlight the threats posed by monoculture tree plantations.

For any questions, comments, please send an email to:
plantnet@iafrica.com