The fast-growing, non-native eucalyptus plantations of Brazil are grown in a sustainable manner that does not harm the environment or endanger local livelihoods, but instead contribute to offsetting carbon emissions.
That’s according to paper maker Kimberly-Clark, the Forest Stewardship Council and the World Wide Fund for Nature — however, the experiences of local people in the Cerrado savanna region suggest there’s more to the story.
They tell of being terrorized and forced off their lands by new owners who remove existing vegetation and plant vast eucalyptus monocultures, which are poor in biodiversity and a huge drain on the water supply.
Dispossessed farmers can’t even access remaining native woodlands, as these have been seized to create required “legal reserves” of habitat protected by the forestry companies.
Communities are fighting back in the courts against the absentee owners whom in many cases haven’t even harvested the eucalypts.
Apparently the tree plantations’ distance from processing facilities makes the process of converting them to paper uneconomical.