By Harald Eraker
For years, Aracruz Celulose has been denying that their eucalyptus plantations in Brazil have been made at the expense of natural forest. On October 20, however, local organisations were able to produce evidence in the form of a film documenting that this is not the case.
This happened at a public hearing on the expansion of the company's plantations in the southern part of Bahia. The hearing was organised by the Centre for Environmental Resources, and several top executives of the Lorentzen company were present.
This is reported in the World Rainforest Movement's (WRM) November bulletin. The film takes were made in the Caravelas municipality where Aracruz Celulose has recently acquired new lands. They show natural forest being razed by means of tractors.
According to the workers that did the job, noone responsible for the environment was present either when the trees were felled or during the subsequent application of pesticides to the area.
- Even during the process to obtain the license for the expansion of its plantations, [the company's] field activities are carried out in a predatory manner, says Melquiades Spinola, co-ordinator of the organisation CEPEDES, to the WRM.
CEPEDES now demands a thorough investigation of whether Aracruz Celulose is responsible for similar environmental crimes elsewhere in Bahia and in the State of Espirito Santo, where the main part of the company's eucalyptus plantations and the cellulose factory are located.
The Lorentzen company is in a period of expansion. Recently, they started work on an extension of the cellulose factory in Espirito Santo, increasing production capacity by 700,000 (metric) tons of cellulose to a total of 2 million tons.
Furthermore, Aracruz Celulose has entered into the Veracel forestry product of the Swedish/Finnish company Stora Enso in Bahia. A new port is being built in connection to the Veracel plantations, which are to supply the Espirito Santo cellulose factory with 3.5 cubic metres of wood.
The government of Espirito Santo, however, has put a stop to the company's expansion in the state. Because of this there is now a strong pressure on Bahia, the State to the north of Espirito Santo.
The expansion in Bahia has met with huge local resistance. A broad-based alliance of organisations and individuals has formed the campaign "Forum against a green desert in Espirito Santo and the southern part of Bahia". They consider the company's monocultural plantations a threat both to the environment and to social rights (see NorWatch 17/1999).
Norwatch Newsletter 13/00