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Pulp and paper giant denounced as first eucalyptus delivery arrives in Portugal from Mozambique


July 14, 2021–The first delivery of eucalyptus to Aveiro in Portugal from the port of Beira in Mozambique was received with strong criticism by Mozambican and Portuguese groups and two international coalitions. The wood comes from eucalyptus plantations operated by Portucel Moçambique, a subsidiary of The Navigator Company, and will be used in pulp and paper mills in Portugal. Two other deliveries are expected this year for a total volume of 100,000 m3 of wood.

Portucel Moçambique has been granted 356,000 hectares of land in the provinces of Manica and Zambezia, in central Mozambique, to establish eucalyptus plantations, more than three times the area controlled by The Navigator Company in Portugal. So far, only 13,500 hectares have been planted, but already a large number of communities have accused the company of violating their rights. [1]

Anabela Lemos from Justiça Ambiental in Mozambique said: “Portucel Moçambique claims that its plantations improve the living conditions of rural communities and bring economic development to Mozambique. In reality, this neocolonial project usurps the land and the means of subsistence of thousands of peasant families, leaving them no option for their lives. As peasant families lose all that is most precious to them, Portucel exports low-value timber over 11,000 km to supply Navigator factories in Portugal and claims this helps their development. Promises made to communities of jobs, better lives and improved infrastructure have all been broken.

The NGOs have asked the World Bank to withdraw its financial support for the Portucel plantations. The International Finance Corporation, owned by the World Bank, controls around 20% of Portucel Moçambique’s shares, and the Forest Investment Program, another World Bank initiative, is helping finance the planting of the first 40,000 hectares. This was included in Mozambique’s commitment to “restore forests” under the Bonn Challenge and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), which were launched alongside the signing of the Accord. of Paris of the United Nations in 2011.

Kwami Kpondzo, Regional Coordinator for Africa of the Global Forest Coalition, said: “The World Bank is giving Portucel millions to plant eucalyptus in Mozambique under the false pretext that afforestation with plantations can help solve the problem. climate change. The opposite is true. Converting forests and farmland to plantations releases large amounts of carbon. Additionally, wood is shipped thousands of miles just to be turned into short-lived paper products such as office paper, toilet tissue, and supermarket packaging, or burnt to generate electricity in Navigator’s pulp mills.

Environmental Paper Network activist Sergio Baffoni said: “The wood fiber plantations planned by Portucel Moçambique have turned into a boomerang for local communities and the environment. Plantations have spread over the land of residents and some of the last remaining miombo forests, causing pollution, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, increased risks of water scarcity and forest fires in an area already prone to forest damage. drought.

NGOs working in Mozambique, Portugal and around the world have called on the Mozambican government to revoke Portucel Moçambique land concessions due to the negative impacts that the plantations have on the livelihoods and food security of rural farming communities in the areas. that have been planted. In the concession areas of Portucel, 24,000 families could be affected by the future expansion of plantations.

Paula Silva, Member of Quercus in Portugal, said: “Portugal’s model eucalyptus plantation is exported at great cost to communities and biodiversity in Mozambique. We don’t want The Navigator Company to duplicate the impact it has had here in Portugal in Mozambique or elsewhere, where decades of influence on policy makers has led to deregulation of the forest sector and huge impacts on the environment.

João Camargo, member of the climate justice collective Climáximo in Portugal, recalls that “The Navigator Company’s practices imitate a colonialist extractive model, where African countries are treated like a mine. Everything is mined at low cost with enormous damage to the Mozambican people, and there are rich rewards for shareholders of multinational corporations. Moreover, despite enormous publicity efforts, industrial forest plantations are not a solution to the climate crisis. They are not forests and they have only one goal: to make a profit, even if that means destroying native forests, soils, waters and communities. It is the economic model of pulp and paper, a capitalist model based on looting. “


[1] See: https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Portucel_O_Processo_de_acesso_%C3%A0_Terra_e_os_direitos_das_comunidades_locais.pdf, https://environmentalpaper.org/wp11pload17/111717177 Discussion-Document-Portucel-Report-2017-English.pdf and https://globalforestcoalition.org/forest-cover-63/#mozambique

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