President and CEO
World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th Street, N.W.
P.O. Box 97180
Washington, D.C. 20090-7180
Dear Mr. Roberts:
As members of your organization, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we expect the development plans you support to be consistent with protection of the environment and the habitat for all species of animals in every part of the world to which WWF turns its attention. Imagine our surprise and disappointment, therefore, when we learned of the initiatives WWF is supporting in Colombia, a country where we have focused our attention through the Colombia Support Network (CSN), a human rights and environmental defense organization to which we belong. We recently visited the Kamentsa and Inga indigenous communities in the Sibundoy Valley in southern Colombia and environmental organizations in the capital city of Bogota. On our visit we learned of WWF support for programs and policies in Colombia which are extremely harmful to the environment and to the natural habitat for many animals and plants.
Your organization, operating we were told under the name in Spanish of the Fondo Mundial Para la Naturaleza (World Fund for Nature), has publicly supported a Colombian governmental plan to build a new highway between the communities of San Francisco and Mocoa in Putumayo Department (province), known as the San Francisco-Mocoa variante, to be linked to the trans-Amazon road to be built from Belem in Brazil to Tumaco on the Pacific Ocean coast of Colombia. The San Francisco-Mocoa link as planned, and as supported publicly by the WWF, will severely undermine water production in the highlands through which it is to pass, as hundreds of acres of mature trees will be cut to clear land for the new highway. In addition, the road will pass through sacred lands of the Kamentsa and Inga peoples, as well as very likely ruining their agricultural production by causing the Sibundoy Valley, where they live, to become very dry. The WWF support for this disastrous plan was given despite the failure of the Colombian government and the Inter-American Development Bank, which has tentatively approved a loan of more than $200 million to the Colombian government for construction of this road, to undertake proper prior consultations with the indigenous communities, as the Colombian Constitution and laws require.
The WWF’s support for this road project marks it as an enemy of protection of the environment and ecological diversity. Species of animals and plants will undoubtedly disappear from the Sibundoy Valley and the surrounding area if the new road is built as planned.
And we have just learned of the WWF’s backing for large-scale monoculture crops in several Latin American countries. In Colombia the crops being supported by the WWF are export-oriented African palm plantations. (See the enclosed statement below) These plantations are already laying waste large areas of ecologically-sensitive lands in the Darien rainforest in Colombia’s Choco Department. And the plan is to develop African palm plantations in the sparsely-settled Amazon region and eastern plains, where they will do tremendous damage to the ecology and threaten the existence of numerous animal species.
We cannot in good conscience continue to be members of an organization which, while presenting itself as a friend of the environment and a protector of existing animal species, publicly supports policies which will cause environmental degradation and decimate the habitats of countless animals, causing their rapid demise. We call upon you to reverse these policies at once. If you do not, we believe you will lose the support of current WWF members who are truly committed to environmental protection and who are dedicated to preserving habitat for animals.
Member, CSN Buffalo, New York
John I. Laun
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
Phone: (608) 257-8753
Fax: (608) 255-6621
Rejection of the World Wildlife Fund!s Initiative: The New Generation Plantations Project
September 21, 2011
(Translated by Anne Schoeneborn, CSN Volunteer Translator)
On this, the International Day Against Tree Monocultures, the Latin American Network Against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) and the other undersigned organizations and activists reject and call on others to reject the initiative known as the New Generation Plantations Project (NGPP), being led by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). On the WWF!s website, the organization states that “we need the commodities and services from tree plantations” and goes on to set forth the necessity of improving the current model of forestry in order to keep these commodities flowing, to contribute to protecting and restoring natural forests, and to respect the rights of local communities. In order to achieve this, the organization believes it is sufficient to simply develop better plantation practices.
However, it is the current trade of commodities and, more generally, the current model of production and consumption that is at the root of humanity!s problems. And yet the WWF does not voice a single criticism of this model or suggest changing it in any way. It believes or seeks to make others believe that the contradictions intrinsic to the industrial forestry model—the concentration of land, the displacement of local communities, the exclusion of other forms of production, the exhaustion of water resources and the soil—will magically resolve themselves. The social and environmental harm done by plantations, which increase as the profits of corporations rise, are directly related to the industrial-scale “forestry model,” characterized by monocultures, to which the WWF is referring. This is why large forestry corporations have used every possible strategy to make their activities appear “green.” The WWF!s sole concern seems to be that of maintaining and widening the current markets of the plantations. In addition, a significant part of the NGPP is oriented toward opening the market!s doors to carbon and energy for forestry plantations, thus permitting even more fertile lands, which millions of people in Latin America depend on for their survival, to be occupied by large corporations.
The NGPP involves a group of corporations from the forestry sector (CMPC- Forestal Mininco, Masisa, Fibria, Mondi, Portucel, Sabah Forest Industries, Stora Enso, Veracel, UPM-Kymmene) as well as the State Forestry Administration of China, the Forestry Commission of Great Britain and Sweden!s The Forestry Initiative. The NGPP!s website showcases a series of examples of industrial plantations throughout the world that have helped to “conserve biodiversity.” Of the nine highlighted cases, five are tree plantations in Latin America that belong to the companies UPM (Uruguay), Veracel/Stora Enso and Fibria (Brazil), Masisa (Argentina) and CMPC/Forestal Mininco (Chile). Each and every one of these companies has received official complaints from local communities, which the WWF has of course opted to ignore. The official complaints include, among others, violating the rights (and territories) of indigenous and traditional communities, illegally occupying land, destroying valuable ecosystems and water sources, and replacing croplands with plantations.
In the name of RECOMA and the other undersigned organizations, we denounce this type of manipulation as a form of consenting to the commercial interests of organizations that do not hesitate to violate the rights of the communities where they are introducing their tree monocultures. This is a public call to all social movements and organizations to reject the NGPP. We launch this message as a part of the International Day Against Tree Monocultures! activities, as we remember Ricardo Carrere who throughout his life and work with WRM and RECOMA helped to advance the fight against tree plantations and their negative impacts, recognizing the rights of local andindigenous communities over their land.
Member organizations of the Latin American Network Against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA):
- Amigos de la Tierra Argentina (Friends of the Earth Argentina)
- Foro Boliviano sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo – FOBOMADE (Bolivian Forum on the Environment and Development)
- Red Alerta contra el Desierto Verde (Alert Against the Green Desert Network) – Brazil
- Federação de Orgãos para Assistência Social e Educacional (Federation of Organizations for Social and Educational Assistance) – Espírito Santo, Brazil
- Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales – OLCA (Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts) – Chile
- CENSAT Agua Viva (Asociación Centro Nacional de Salud Ambiente yTrabajo), - Amigos de la Tierra Colombia (Friends of the Earth Colombia)
- Asociación Comunidades Ecologistas la Ceiba, Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica (Friends of the Earth Costa Rica)
- Acción Ecológica (Ecological Action) – Ecuador
- Centro Salvadoreño de Tecnología Apropiada – CESTA (Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology) – El Salvador
- SAVIA, Escuela de Pensamiento Ecologista (School of Ecological Thought) –Guatemala
- Madre Tierra (Mother Earth) – Honduras
- Otros Mundos, Amigos de la Tierra México (Friends of the Earth Mexico)
- Facilitación para America Latina Iniciativa contra los Agronegocios (Facilitation for Latin America Agribusiness Initiative) – Nicaragua
- Sobrevivencia (Survival) – Paraguay
- Programa de Defensa de Derechos Indígenas (Program for the Defense of Indigenous Rights) – Peru
- REDES, Amigos de la Tierra Uruguay (Friends of the Earth Uruguay)
- Amigos en Defensa de la Gran Sabana – AMIGRANSA (Friends! Society in Defense of the Great Savannah – Venezuela
- Colectivo VientoSur – Chile
- Grupo Guayubira – Uruguay
- RAPAL – Uruguay
- Convergencia de Movimientos de los Pueblos de las Américas – COMPA (Convergence of People!s Movements of the Americas) – México
- Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Represas – MAPDER (Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams) – México
- Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Mineraía – REMA (Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining) – Mexico
- Comisión Ecológica El Belloto de la Red Medioambiental Region Valparaíso (Ecological Commission El Belloto of the Environmental Network Valparaíso Region) – Chile
- CEPEDES – Brazil
- Redmanglar Internacional
- Coordinadora Guatemalteca para la Defensa de los Manglares y la Vida, COGMANGLAR (Guatemalan Coordinator for the Defense of Mangroves and Life)
- Mapuexpress – Chile
- Centro Ecoceanos – Chile
- Radio del Mar – Chile
- Liga Ciudadana – Chile
- Oficina Justicia, Paz e Integridad de la Creación de San Columbanos de Chile (Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of San Columbanos of Chile)
- Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales de la Araucanía – RADA
(Environmental Rights Action Network of Araucanía) – Chile
- La Red por la Defensa de la Precordillera, La Florida (The Network for the Defense of the Precordillera, La Florida) – Chile