There are two faces of reforestation in Brazil.
One is that of a simple country person with her family, bare-footed or flip-flopped, collecting seeds from the Mother trees of their region. They know the trees like they know their own relatives. They sell their seeds for a fair price to an association of nurserymen in the town nearby, who will grow them into trees for sale and wonder why those trees are so hard to sell. It took 5 years for me to uncover the story behind their difficulties and reveal another face of reforestation.
The other face wears a mask. It’s the protective mask of NGOs, cooperating with agro-chemical companies and paper pulp companies. They have the big bucks to fund environmental education, teaching people to make money by allowing genetically modified forests to be planted on their land, or to use their new and “improved” methods for reforestation.
As one of our field partners has stated, “15‐20 years ago, the largest pulp and paper industry of the world started replacing cattle ranches (formerly rain forests) with eucalyptus plantations. On lands they keep on buying (for very low prices) or leasing for 20 years, they represent a huge threat to environment and public health, since the company makes use of enormous amounts of pesticides, herbicides (mainly glyphosate) and fertilizers with significant amounts of heavy metals… They do not follow the regulations that oblige plantations projects to be submitted to environmental assessment studies… They have polluted watersheds, groundwater, soils, people and animals from farms. Fish are dying in big amounts, cattle, pigs and chicken are born with deformities, people from farms located in the surroundings are ill, losing arm and leg movements, going blind.”
They even make up new ways – like mixing native seeds with genetically modified crop seeds, spreading them together in fields and calling that reforestation. Monsanto calls it muvaca.
“The main difference is the involvement of muvuca producers to use the same type of equipment used for grain crops such as soybeans and corn. Compared with the planting of seedlings, maintenance and control is easier, the absence of ants and no need for irrigation during the dry season…”
So what can we do?
We can pray that the forces of Nature will prevail over their methods while we strengthen our collective will to reclaim our planet from their profit driven motives. And we can educate ourselves about what is REALLY going on. Many people now know of palm oil use being responsible for rainforest destruction thanks to good guys like Rainforest Action Network. But did you know that the diapers on your baby’s bottom may well have come from the pulp produced by these GMO eucalyptus trees in a once-upon-a-time rainforest?
We can crowdfund educational endeavors. The iGiveTrees campaign supports the translation of the documentaries “A Silent Forest” and its sequel “Synthetic Forest” into Portuguese. We can support the small local NGOs and rural associations, to see the bigger picture of what is going on around them, and to stand up for themselves in an informed, empowered and peaceful way.
Is this a David and Goliath story? Indeed it is. But remember who won in the end.
by Alana Lea for Care2 causes, Earth Day 2014
The Two Faces of Reforestation in Brazil | Care2 Causes.