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The Two Faces of Reforestation in Brazil

The Two Faces of Reforestation in Brazil

Written by Alana Lea, founder, Rainforest ECO ~ iGiveTrees

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 is now focused upon translating the documentary “Silent Forest“ and its sequel, into Portuguese with subtitles. 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.

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Infographic credit: Rainforest ECO

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12:47PM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

Thank you for this informative article.


The Comission of Constitution and Justice of the Brazilian Deputy Chamber: No to Terminator, No to suicide seeds! Against the Bill 268/2007

2:25PM PDT on Jun 14, 2014

If Brazil can only keep corporate NGOs from destroying their precious environment. Sadly, I don't see that happening now nor in the near future.

9:06PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

We have a real life David---nature and it's human advocates against a real life Goliath---out of control human greed causing destruction on a planetary scale. Only this time around it is Goliath who is winning. Unless the Earth's life support systems are damaged to the point of human extinction, that is. Then everybody loses except nature since it would eventually recover from the damage inflicted upon it by humans. I could think of worse scenarios.

6:27PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

If the environmental regulations can be circumvented as easily as they seem to be in this country.

Why should we be surprised about this in Brazil.

5:39PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax movie

5:20PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Sad to see the word NGO used to describe the bad guys. I always associate NGO with the good guys. so easy for these corporations to set up a smoke screen, another reason to research any company before donating.

3:12PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

This is good information. A lot of people do not know what is happening behind business practices. They are hard at work trying to keep a home or is looking for work to get a home. It is easy for a business to get so much destruction done with out any one knowing. But when we know, we need to stop the fools.

3:09PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

We need to support those who are trying to protect and preserve this planet. Do not depend on corporations or the government to protect our world. It is not in their "financial" interests to do so.

2:55PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

Such a shame, there are good people and amazing activists and organizations, but I don´t think we will be able to save the planet and of course, not ourselves.

1:26PM PDT on Apr 23, 2014

One of my dear friends lives near a Weyerhaeuser forest in Oregon. They do the same thing there, and it's making everyone living nearby sick. Once they clear-cut and decimate the land, producing muddy runoff, then they replant with a single sized, single type of tree, rather than a diverse environment, then have to spray like crazy year after year to try and get them to grow. My friend finally filed a lawsuit that will probably go on forever, costing her family a lot. But until we begin to stand up and say no, individually and collectively, this madness will continue.

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