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Climate Justice Now!
| Tanzanian Land Growing Norwegian Carbon |

"The Money Came from a Place Far Away":

Tanzanian Land, Norwegian Carbon

In addition to its project in Uganda (see previous blog), Norway's Tree Farms company was also, by 2000, trying to acquire savannah land totalling over 70,000 hectares in Tanzania. Between 1996 and 2000, some 1,900 hectares of trees were planted in Mufindi and Kilombero Districts at about 2,000 metres above sea level, where a seasonally moist climate provided lots of water for thirsty industrial monocultures of Pinus patula and Eucalyptus saligna.

The land had been leased from the government at US$1.90 per hectare per year for a 99-year period on condition that it be used solely for forestry. Industrikraft Midt-Norge, the Norwegian power utility, meanwhile signed an options contract to pay Tree Farms nearly $4.50 per tonne of CO2 supposedly sequestered. Over a 25-year period, this would give Tree Farms a carbon profit of about $27 million for one plantation complex, Uchindile, compared to $565,000 paid to the Tanzanian government in compensation for losing the opportunity to do anything
else with the land.

Yet according to Tree Farms Managing Director Odd Ivar Løvhaugen, the firm would have invested in Tanzania's forestry sector regardless of possible carbon money. Løvhaugen emphasised that the company considers any trade in carbon credits merely as a supplement to those from conventional forestry. The Tree Farms carbon project would thus be in breach of the requirements for carbon projects outlined by the Kyoto Protocol, which disallow credits from activities that would have been undertaken without special carbon finance.

Promising various social benefits, the company had succeeded in overcoming villagers reluctance to cede their uncultivated land to the project, but in the end pledges to provide health and education services were not kept. There were also labour problems. Up to 500 local villagers were hired to plant and nurse the trees, build roads, or watch over the plantations. But planting took place only between December and March, so the work could not replace
agricultural or animal husbandry occupations. In addition, the promised wage was too low -- US$1 a day, less than the government's recommended minimum.

More seriously, many workers were not paid at all. Some workers interviewed by NorWatch in 2000 had eight months of wages owing to them, while others complained that payments had been irregular and unpredictable from the beginning.

"When we asked about the salaries," commented the residents of Uchindile village, "the company told us that the money came from a place far away and that there was nothing that could be done about it."

The Tree Farms monocultures impact on biodiversity is unclear, since very few ecological studies have been carried out in this part of Tanzania. Even the impact assessment for the project, however, notes three endangered plant species within Tree Farms' project area (two orchids and one Aloe species).

Source: Jorn Stave, NorWatch/The Future in Our Hands, "Carbon Upsets: Norwegian 'Carbon Plantations' in Tanzania," in Tree Trouble, Friends of the Earth, Asuncion, 2000.

by: ProfMKD @ 10:56 PM


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