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Today, I am reporting from Durban, South Africa, where I am presenting at the people’s alternative event, organized to oppose the corporate and timber industry dominated World Forestry Congress, a project of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. last night, I represented the people’s organization when I debated three representatives of the UN on the dangers of industrial tree plantations, which the UN calls “planted forests.”

But plantations are not forests. While the UN representatives insisted they only promote sustainable forest management, in reality it has meant widespread forest destruction to make room for fast growing, non-native industrial tree plantations. The UN disguises this destruction with green names like “afforestation, “reforestation,” and “forest restoration,” but what they really mean is the conversion of biodiverse, water purifying, climate stabilizing, community supporting forests to tree plantations known as green deserts because they deplete water and support no life. People in Durban are mobilizing to oppose this.