GE Trees and Aracruz Cellulose in Brazil: Urgent Sign on Letter

URGENT World Rainforest Movement Alert:
Stora Enso & Aracruz Cellulose: new 78,000 hectare plantation in Brazil

From: “Andrew Boswell” <a_boswell_2004@yahoo.co.uk> Thu, 9 Aug 2007

Please see below for information from World Rainforest Movement about plans by the Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso and the Norwegian-Brazilian company Aracruz Cellulose, for a new 78,000 hectare monoculture timber plantation in Brazil.

Stora Enso have made clear their plans to produce new-generation biofuels from wood residues.  Read their release.

A demonstration biofuels plant is expected to start up in 2008 at Varkaus Mill in Finland.

Aracruz Cellulose says on its website that it is the world’s leading producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp. It is responsible 27% of the global supply of the product, used to manufacture printing and writing paper, tissue, and high value added specialty papers.  It is also looking at GM forests:
http://www.aracruz.com/show_amb.do?act

“Aracruz Cellulose believes that Genetic Engineering of forest species can bring benefits to society through sustainable development. The company bases its decisions regarding research, development, planting and acquisition of Genetically Modified Trees upon current legislation, scientific knowledge, the requirements of its customers and the concerns of society, through continuous evaluation of the impacts and economic, environmental and social gains stemming from the application of this technology, and from compliance with all of the technical-scientific procedures necessary for the elimination of potential associated risks.”

The letter below, written by Teresa Perez of World Rainforest Movement opposing sustainability certification for a huge new plantation of eucalyptus will be sent to FSC and SGS on Tuesday 14 August.  Please join them by sending your name and organization BEFORE MONDAY 13 AUGUST, to: wrm@wrm.org.uy

Andrew

From: Teresa Perez–World Rainforest Movement
Subject: Urgent: we need your support!

Dear friends,

Our Brazilian companions need our urgent support. We have recently learned that Veracel has launched a process to obtain FSC certification for its plantations. It has hired the consulting company SGS for this
purpose.

Veracel which belongs to both the Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso and the Norwegian-Brazilian company Aracruz Cellulose – is attempting to obtain certification for its plantations established over 78,000
hectares in the extreme south of the State of Bahia and its impacts are causing major local resistance. As part of the certification process, SGS undertook the main assessment during the week of 23 to 27
July.

In the attached [below] letter our Brazilian companions provide us with sufficient arguments (both related with the impacts of the plantations and with the consultation process carried out by SGS for certification), to show that Veracel should not receive certification.

This letter will be sent to FSC and SGS on Tuesday 14 August.

Please sign your name and organization BEFORE MONDAY 13 AUGUST, to the following e-mail address: wrm@wrm.org.uy

We are counting on your support!
Sincerely,
Teresa Perez

*****************************
SIGN ON LETTER:

We, the undersigned, men, women and young people, rural and urban workers, indigenous people, environmentalists, scientists, teachers, students, are perplexed over the news that the Veracel Celulose
Company is trying to obtain the FSC seal for its monoculture eucalyptus plantations through the SGS certifier company.

Presently, FSC is considered to be the best known green seal in the world. Before even starting the certification process, the company has been disseminating false publicity, through a booklet sent to different social sectors. This material affirms that it is gaining FSC certification because the company has environmental, social andeconomic assets.

According to FSCs Principles and Criteria, the seal seeks to promote management of the world’s forests based on three foundations, involving “environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable” behavior. The company only generates 741 jobs according to the information contained in Veracel’s Comprehensive Management Plan, while occupying an area of 105.241 hectares (this area is allocated to eucalyptus plantations and facilities). The number is appalling if the company’s territorial expansion in the Extreme South is considered together with the impoverishment of the population – previously primarily agricultural in terms of subsistence, comprising small rural properties. For example, in the locality Eunapolis, between 1996 and 2000, close on 7 thousand workers migrated from the rural areas (Source: Brazilian Geographical and Statistical Institute, IBGE). The plantations of papaya Hawaii covering 17,028 hectares, coffee covering 14,628 hectares and coconut covering 11,823 hectares, generated 27,750 jobs per year alone. (Sources: Eunapolis Rural Workers Trade Union and CEPLAC  Ministry of Agriculture).

Eunapolis has had the highest rate of regional rural exodus over the past years, the figure increased by 59.37%, while the highest national rate is 28%. (Source: Centre for Research and Studies for the Development of the Extreme South-Cepedes). Since the beginning of the nineties, the arrival of monoculture eucalyptus plantations have made a decisive contribution to the exodus of farm workers, cowboys, cattle drivers, small farmers, cocoa bean workers and other workers from rural areas to the cities.

Furthermore, it is on the record that Veracel has been subject to several civil investigation proceedings in the localities of Eunapolis, Porto Seguro and Itagimirim, according to reports by the respective public prosecution offices. The company is involved in 883 (eight hundred and eighty-three) labour lawsuits in the Labour Court of the 5th Region. These are cases brought by workers, according to a list of lawsuits made available by the Judicial Powers in July 2007. Last April the company was ordered to pay labour ompensations such as notice of dismissal, holiday pay, Fund to Guarantee Time in Service (FGTS) and fines to five former workers.

Non-compliance with security measures has already caused labour accidents, for example the one that took place on 30 March 2007 at Veracel, where three workers suffered second and third degree burns from chemicals and eight were intoxicated. The accident was caused by sodium sulphate used in maintenance of one of the pulp bleaching boilers. (Source: Newspaper O Sollo ? Edition 101 of 13 April 2007).

According to the booklet prepared by Veracel on FSC, Indigenous Peoples Rights is the third of the 10 principles supposedly applied by the company: this does not correspond to the truth either. Part of the land claimed by the indigenous population of the Extreme South of Bahia, in their respective demarcation processes, is totally occupied by Veracel eucalyptus plantations, although historically this is an indigenous area.  The company only recognizes three locations as indigenous areas: Imbiriba, Barra Velha and Águas Belas, ignoring 13 other communities, such as: Aldeia Guaxuma, Pé do Monte, Aldeia Nova do Monte Pascoal, Corumbauzinho,  Craveiro,  Alegria Nova,  Tauá, Tiba,  Cahy, Pequi, Trevo do Parque, Meio da Mata, and Boca da Mata.

The Company does not comply either with being environmentally responsible, given that logging and indiscriminate use of poisons in river areas and near springs (the Santa Cruz River) can easily be verified through the Federal Public Civil Proceedings and fines levied by the Brazilian Environmental and Natural Renewable Resources Institute (IBAMA)  the Federal Government’s official body responsible for the Environment.  An example of this is IBAMA Offense Order number 368874 of 13/03/07. Furthermore, the Court stipulated through Recommendation nº 01 of 18/11/2005 that Veracel must comply with the law and remove the eucalyptus plantations from the surroundings of the three main National Parks in the Extreme South (Pau Brasil, Descobrimento and Monte Pascoal).

Another serious question is water which is being affected both in quantity and quality. In terms of the watershed, following the installation of these plantations, the volume of water available dropped considerably in the region (various testimonials gathered from inhabitants). The impacts on the flora and fauna are many and serious due to the vast tracts of eucalyptus plantations that are affecting many native species. In the area covered by eucalyptus trees, a considerable part of the flora has been exterminated by agrochemicals and many animal species have disappeared (Documents from Cepedes archives, photos, videos and testimonials and Offense Order 212132 dated 22/12/2005).

In February this year, the Ministry of Agriculture placed an attachment order on Veracel’s Chemical Waste Plant. This plant produced 10 000 m3 of industrial waste (fumes ? biological sludge from the industry?s emission treatment station; eucalyptus biomass ? a raw material extracted from washing the eucalyptus logs; Calcite Ash extracted from the boilers, sediments and sand). This product is sold without Ministry of Agriculture authorization to small farmers at R$10.00/m” (ten reales). The company is not registered as a Company producing or Company marketing products aimed at agricultural activities with the Bahian Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Finance. This is a serious offense according to Law 6.894 of 16/12/1980, which stipulates the inspection and control of production and marketing of fertilizers, corrective products, inoculants, stimulants and bio-fertilizers for agricultural purposes.   According to the Eunapolis Rural Workers? Trade Union, there have been various accidents with rural workers using the product, such as bodily burns and total loss of plantations.

Another clear example of unsound behaviour is that the company took advantage of a supposed error of the Civil Registry Notary Office and obtained a certificate stating that it was not object of any legal actions, in order to obtain the ISO 14.001 seal. But, in fact, Veracel is responding to various legal actions according to the above mentioned office, following its admitting to the error in a document issued on 18 July 2007.

We also contest the process for assessment and recognition carried out by the certifier company SGS, considering that it is neither clear nor transparent:

– Various organizations and institutions were not heard, nor did they even know about the process; this can be verified in documents received from numerous organizations and institutions;

– How many forms did SGS issue? Who recommended these organizations? How many organizations answered the questionnaire? What localities were visited?

– The scant organizations – members of the Socio-Environmental Forum of the Extreme South ? that did receive the form sent a letter to SGS requesting a meeting. The letter also asked for a field visit together
with organized civil society organizations that have been operating in the area for many years now as the auditors do not come from the region and do not know the Extreme South of Bahia. This request was
not answered in a satisfactory manner because it was only on the morning of 23 July that Cepedes received a call from one of the auditors (Fabiano) to tell them that they would only be available on 23 or 24 July to meet with the Forum, later confirmed by SGS by e-mail at the request of Cepedes. We consider this to be a total lack of respect towards us because as soon as we received the documentation we answered that it would not be possible to meet on the proposed date as the organizations had prior engagements.

– The few interviews held produced unsatisfactory results. For example the one that took place at the Chamber of City Councillors from the locality of Eunapolis. Only (3) three of the (10) ten Councillors were
present and none of these had any knowledge of the subject. This is reported by one of their press advisors, Teonei Guerra.  Also, according to Guerra, who participated in the meeting with the auditors, SGS will not promote a Public Hearing to listen to the community because it considers it to be more ?productive? to have individual conversations with some sectors. It should be remembered that in October 2005 the Federal Government, through IBAMA, proposed holding a Public Hearing to discuss the issue of monoculture eucalyptus plantations in the area; nearly 3,000 people attended this Hearing. At that time it was evident that Aracruz and Veracel hired people to agitate and to make the hearing unviable (this was verified
at the same hearing by the Bahian State Deputy, José Neto). It also became evident that regional society rejects monoculture eucalyptus plantations because of their extension, making unfeasible any initiative for the preservation and conservation of the Mata Atlantica or ecological corridors, Agrarian Reform, or peasant farming, among others. They also reject the companies? forceful and disrespectful behaviour. Veracel advances with its plantations, invading rural communities. Recently it attempted to plant eucalyptus trees in Itapuã a neighbourhood in the city of Eunapolis. Other neighbourhoods exist in the city surrounded by eucalyptus plantations. The population is complaining as these plantations serve as a refuge for delinquents and a place to hide dead bodies.  The companies lack of respect has no limits. Veracel planted eucalyptus trees in a graveyard located in the community of Ponto Maneca, some 7 kilometres from Eunapolis and put up a notice stating Access guaranteed to family members of the dear ones buried here. (Photos showing this evidence available in the archives of Cepedes and CDDH).

– The Environmental Secretariat of the locality of Eunápolis and SGS jointly arranged a meeting of the Municipal Environmental Council to be held on 24/07 with the presence of some councillors appointed by the Secretary, (people in his confidence), making most of the councillors indignant with this behaviour.

– We stress once again that the auditors took only 05 (five) days to make the field assessment in the 10 (ten) localities comprised in the area submitted for certification by the company. It is humanly impossible to do so considering the extension of the area and the number of districts, communities, institutions and organizations existing there.

We consider that a company such as Veracel Celulose, one of the symbols of the ?development? model imposed in an arbitrary, illegal and violent way, giving rise to serious negative consequences and causing violence, poverty and hunger to the people of the Extreme South of Bahia, cannot be environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable.

For the traditional peoples and member organizations of the Socio-Environmental Forum of the Extreme South of Bahia and the Alert against the Green Desert Network, large-scale monoculture eucalyptus
plantations are ecologically disastrous, socially unjust and economically perverse for the region. In this respect, they do not adjust to forest management Principles and Criteria validating certification.

Signed by:

1. Associação da Cidadania e Transparência da Terra Mãe  ACTTM
2. Associação dos Engenheiros, Arquitetos e Técnicos de Eunápolis -ASSOCIENGE
3. Comissão de Meio Ambiente da Ordem dos Advogados Bahia  Subseção Eunápolis
4. Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos  Teixeira de Freitas – CDDH
5. Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas para o Desenvolvimento do Extremo Sul CEPEDES
6. Sindicato dos Bancários e Trabalhadores no Sistema Financeiro do Extremo Sul da Bahia;
7. Conselho Indigenista Missionário  CIMI  Equipe Extremo Sul
8. Centro de Desenvolvimento Agroecológico do Extremo Sul da Bahia TERRA VIVA.
9. Everton Berhmann Araújo  Estudante
10. Federação de Órgãos para  Assistência Social e Educacional –  FASE/BAHIA
11. Frente de Resistência e Luta Pataxó
12. José Carneiro de Souza Neto ? Engenheiro Agrônomo
13. Movimento de Defesa de Porto Seguro – MDPS
14. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação do Estado da Bahia  APLB Eunápolis
15. Sindicato dos Empregados de Empresas de Segurança e Vigilância do Estado da Bahia ? Sindivigilantes
16. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Bares, Restaurantes, Hotéis, Pousadas, Condomínios Residenciais, Flats Services, Bingo, Parques Aquáticos e Similares do Extremo Sul da Bahia ? SINTHOTESB
17. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Rádio TV e Publicidade  SINTERP Delegacia Eunápolis  Bahia.
18. Comissão Executiva do Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira  CEPLAC Aliomar Figueredo Benfica  Eunápolis/ Bahia
19. Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura  FETAG-  BAHIA
20. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais de Eunápolis
21. Movimento de Defesa de Porto Seguro
22. Elizaer Lucas Tavares Leite  Engenheiro Agrônomo
23. APROMAC, associação de proteção ao meio ambiente de Cianorte / PR
24. AMAR – Associação de Defesa do Meio Ambiente de Araucária (Araucária – Paraná)
25. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores no Comércio de Teixeira de Freitas ? SINDEC
26. Associação de Moradores e Amigos de Santo André ? AMASA
27. Espaço Cultural da Paz  Teixeira de Freitas
28. Movimento de Trabalhadores Assentados e Acampados e Quilombolas ?CETA regional Sul
29. Comissão Pastoral da Terra  Diocese Itabuna
30. Conselho Indigenista Missionário CIMI ? Equipe Sul
31. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais – STR de Santa Luzia
32. Comunidades  Eclesial de Base – CEBS Diocese Itabuna
33. Movimento de Mulheres do CETA  Regional Sul
34. Juventude Camponesa  Região Sul Bahia
35. Comunidade Indígena Pataxó Hã Hã Hã ? Pau Brasil
36. Associação dos Índios Tupinambá da Serra do Padeiro – AITSP
37. Comunidade Tupinanbá  Oliveira
38. Pastoral da Juventude  Diocese Itabuna
39. Conferência dos Religiosos do Brasil  CRB Núcleo Itabuna
40.  Movimento de Pequenos Agricultores  MPA Vit. Conquista
41. ARES ? Associação Para o Resgate Social  Camacan/Bahia
42. Conselho de Cidadania Paroquial da Santa Rita – Itabuna
43. CEB’s Paróquia Santo Antonio – Ubaitaba
44. CEB’s Paróquia Nª Sª do Carmo – Ibirapitanga
45. Centro de Estudo de Bíblicos CEBI – Núcleo de Ilhéus
46. Associação Cultural Beneficente Antônio Pereira Barbosa ACAPEB – Gongogi
47. Irmãs Agostinianas Recoletas de Itabuna
48. Pastoral Carcerária de Itabuna
49. Irmãs Catequistas Franciscanas de Itabuna
50. Fórum de Educação do Campo –  Regional Sul
51. Conselho de Leigos do Vicariato Sul – Diocese de Itabuna
52. Grupo Ambientalista da Bahia  GAMBÁ
53. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais STR – Mucuri
54. Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais STR ? Alcobaça
55. Associação de Pais e Amigos dos Excepcionais  APAE Eunápolis
56. Federação de Órgãos Para Assistência Social e Educacional  FASE/ES
57. Marilda Telles Maracci  Geógrafa  Vitória/ES
58. Arlete Maria Pinheiro Schubert  Historiadora ? Vila Velha / ES
59. CPT/MG  Comissão Pastoral da Terra  MG
60. Movimento Anarcopunk  ES
61. Grupo Motim de Teatro  ES
62. Fórum de Mulheres do ES
63.  MPA/ES  Movimentos dos Pequenos Agricultores do ES
64. Priscila Albani Trés  Técnica em Agropecuária  São Gabriel da Palha/ES
65. Allan Jhonny de Lima Légora ? Técnico em Agropecuária  São Gabriel da Palha/ES
66. Weberson Barbieri  São Gabriel da Palha/ES
67. Raul Ristow Krause  Técnico em Agropecuária  São Gabriel da Palha/ES
68. Brigada Indígena  ES
69. Sindicato dos Bancários do ES
70. Celeste Ciccarone  Antropóloga ? Universidade Federal do ES ? UFES
71. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra  ES

Top Right: Entrance to Aracruz facility in Brazil.  Two weeks prior to this photo being taken in November 2005, indigenous people occupied this plant in protest of Aracruz’s policies. Photo: Langelle/Global Justice Ecology Project

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