In September 2023, The Alert against Green Deserts” network met in Brazil as part of the International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations. Members of different states and representatives of quilobola communities, fishermen and agrarian reform settlements participated.
Following the meeting the network released an open letter denouncing the impacts of plantations and the crimes committed by the companies. They also demand reparation and reaffirm resistance against tree monocultures.
The letter can be read in Portuguese on the “Alert against Green Deserts” website.
The following is the letter, translated by Google Translate from Portuguese into English:
São Mateus, Espírito Santo – September 2023
Quilombolas, fishermen, landless rural workers, researchers, anarchists, activists, human rights and nature defenders, filmmakers from ES, BA, RJ, RS, MS we met on the 16th and 17th of September 2023 in São Mateus/ES, for the Network Meeting warns against Green Deserts.
Visiting one of the many quilombola repossessions in Sapê do Norte, we saw, heard and felt the force of life that has resprouted in Angelim 2, a traditional territory invaded more than 5 decades ago by eucalyptus monoculture and claimed by the community. The recovery has housing, plantations, food, livestock, energy, children, horizons necessary for families to live and reproduce there. They live in conflict with Suzano, which, still under the military dictatorship, expelled many families from the region (at the time it was Aracruz Celulose), destroyed their entire living conditions and which still persecutes the community today with armed security guards, dogs and drones; breaks project and setback agreements; imposes limiting PDRTs (Rural and Territorial Development Programs); they contaminate and dry up rivers and streams, leaving the territory without water and communities dependent on water tank trucks (tank cars) to survive. In criticism and pressure on the governments that to date have not held any quilombola territory in Sapê do Norte, have notimplemented sufficient and adequate public policies and are subject to the corporate power of the company (as is evident in the Conflict Resolution Table coordinated by the State Secretariat of DHs), quilombola families from Sapê do Norte organize themselves and take back their territories by right!
The conflicts with Suzano extend to many other territories and involve many movements that have been fighting against the monoculture of trees for decades in the Red Alert Against Green Deserts. The MST/ES occupied areas with eucalyptus in April this year, encouraging the Lula government (which they helped to elect) to carry out Agrarian Reform. In criticism of the blatant concentration of land, the failure to fulfill the social function of the land (environmental/social/labor) and the fact that public/patrimonial lands were handed over by the military dictatorship to Aracruz Celulose and are still with Suzano today, this is the seventh camp of the MST in areas with eucalyptus from Suzano in ES. Productive camps , which fed many families in cities in solidarity during the pandemic.
Still in ES, traditional fishing territories are also claimed. The Atlantic Forest was destroyed by Suzano, many rivers and streams are dry and contaminated, the springs are unprotected, in this semi-arid region that the region has become, there are no more fish. As people of the water, artisanal fisherwomen are getting sick, dying and screaming for help. Meanwhile, Suzano, a voracious consumer of water both in industries and in plantations, obtained a grant from ANA (National Water Agency) for 44 river basins in 9 states in Brazil and says in its “sustainability” reports that it is in compliance with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) for water care. However, in ES, AGERH (State Water Resources Agency) does not identify records of grant ordinances for any use of water that the company makes in the north of the state and in response to complaints, public bodies and MPE say there is not sufficient evidence of harmfulness and archive processes.
In Bahia, the partnership between quilombola communities in the extreme south and the Public Ministry is more promising. With the support of the State University, the MPF and the Federal Public Defender’s Office, in March 2022 they held a public hearing on the impacts of eucalyptus on quilombola communities. On this occasion, environmental racism and various human rights violations became evident, such as the lack of free, prior and informed consultation (in accordance with ILO Convention 169) and the disappearance of at least two communities after the arrival of eucalyptus monocultures in the region. Several recommendations were made and pressure continued with the formation of the Forum in Defense of indigenous populations and traditional communities in Bahia, as Suzano continued to impose damage on communities, such as the destruction of a bridge that was used by quilombolas. In August this year, the MPF in a public civil action against the Union, the State of Bahia, INEMA (Institute of the Environment and Water Resources) and the companies Veracel and Suzano asked the Court to order the companies to immediately stop all eucalyptus cultivation activities carried out in areas of traditional communities, as well as the progressive retreat of plantations close to springs, lakes and rivers, residences or historic, cultural or common use buildings.
With an eye on the carbon market, Suzano is moving towards Mato Grosso do Sul, where it intends to install the largest plantation project in the world for alleged carbon sequestration, certified by the company Verra, which has accumulated scandal after scandal in the international media. All of this expansion of Suzano is taking place with the recent financial contribution of US$725 million from the World Bank/IFC. With the history of land grabbed for agribusiness and the vast socio-environmental destruction of the region, the plantations already implemented by Suzano, in addition to the Cerrado Project (600 thousand hectares) and other companies such as Arauco, compete for space with other monocultures such as soybeans , making the state 86% dependent on food and the second state that kills the most indigenous people, exactly as a consequence of pressure to expand agribusiness.
With no limits to growth, Suzano is negotiating behind closed doors with the government of the state of Rio de Janeiro, plans for new plantations of up to 600 thousand hectares in the north and northeast of Rio de Janeiro, where it argues that it is a devastated land without conflicts.
Using various mechanisms for this growth, in Rio Grande do Sul the recent relaxation of environmental zoning allows the area allocated to pine and eucalyptus monocultures to almost quadruple.
Transgenic trees, green and carbon credits, ESG governance standards are new outfits used by companies that plant tree monocultures and that have always tried to be treated like forests to gain political and environmental support. However, organized civil society has known since the time of the military dictatorship the corporate tricks to impose themselves on territories and conspire against the Brazilian democratic system, as is the case of Aracruz Celulose revealed in recent research commissioned by the MPF.
For all these reasons, the Network warns against Green Deserts denounces these crimes and demands immediate reparations!
FASE / ES
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)
Quilombola community of Volta Miúda – Caravelas, Extreme South of Bahia
Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST)
National Human Rights Movement (MNDH) / ES
Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDDH ) / Serra, ES
State Coordination of Quilombola Communities of Espírito Santo (COEQ)
Coordination of Quilombola Communities of the State of Espírito Santo ‘Zacimba Gaba’
Tortura Nunca Mais Group / Rio de Janeiro
Capixaba Anarchist Federation (FACA)
Capixaba Social Institute (ISC)
Movement of Fight for Land (MLT)
Agricultural Geography Laboratory – Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul / Campus