Deforestation now driven by profit, not poverty

Deforestation now driven by profit, not poverty

Creato 26 Settembre 2012 00:07

The  main drivers of deforestation worldwide are no longer subsistence-level farmers  trying to put food on their tables. The deforestation is now mostly driven by  large transnational corporations, converting massive tracts of land for  industrial agriculture. Government development schemes promoting the clearing of  vast tracts of land as part of efforts to help millions of poor farmers put food  on their own tables marked the past deforestation. Now, people from rural  communities are increasingly relocating to cities, pushed by globalization, and  forest and land are more and more managed by transnational industrial groups.  The governments, to grab new development opportunities, sponsor large-scale  infrastructure projects like roads, dams and power plants, as highlighted by a  number of CIFOR studies. 

A large portion of forests today are being cleared by the world’s biggest  corporations, which control a larger and larger share of the market. Nearly half  of all global production, according to a WWF study, comes from just 100 companies.
“We know  that commercial drivers of deforestation are now more important than some  decades back. In part, that is simply because over this period national and  international trade have become more important in all our lives, including in  the lives of poor smallholders at the agricultural frontier,” said Sven Wunder,  a principal CIFOR scientist. “This trend is increasingly driven by  profit rather than poverty and by regional or international markets rather than  local needs,” he said.
According to some analysts, this development  offers a rare opportunity for conservation. Big corporations such as  McDonalds, Mattel Inc, Nestlé, Monsanto, and others are sensitive to campaigns  by environmentalists that could harm their brand name.
At the same time,  these groups developed highly sophisticated communications strategies, often  ending up into “green washing” — misrepresenting the environmental qualities of  their products, a common strategy used by those under fire.
According to  other however, the picture is less positive. Big corporation can rely on  technologies which allow them to profitably exploit virtually all the forest, no  matter how much remote they are. They also can easily influence the policy  making in many developing countries and in many cases corporate budget exceeds  those of entire states. By using corruption or political pressure, they can  easily plain waste concession areas, avoid fines and even legalize illegal  practices.
Furthermore, as Western consumer markets decline, big  offenders may eventually become harder to influence. The emerging markets react  in different way to the environmental issue. Consumers are mostly concentrated  in the growing urban middle class, much more worried by the serious pollution in  the megalopolis they live in, than by the deforestation in remote rural areas.  Transnational corporations know this and use it more and more in its  communication strategy. This is there reason why it is difficult for the  environmental organizations to influence the (bad) forest practices by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a paper giant selling mostly in China, South-east Asia and  Middle East, areas where deforestation in Indonesia is not perceived among the  major issues.

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