Posts Tagged ‘South America’
Native forests in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are being destroyed to plant new crops of “profitable” trees. Non-indigenous, but fast growing trees like eucalyptus and pine are being planted to produce large-scale wood, pulp and paper production. Along with destroying the forest, these trees also use more water and degrade the soil of these South American countries.
Rural women’s organizations and environmental groups have drafted letters to the forestry companies in protest but have been ignored and pushed out of the way by claims that these “tree plantations” will act as carbon sinks, helping to offset green house gasses and carbon emissions.
Among the many negative aspects of the “unsustainable” development model followed by the forestry industry, [the women] denounced that companies pressure families into selling their farmland, that the industry creates few jobs for women, that tree plantations are depleting water resources, and that these changes have significant social impacts, such as a breakdown in the social fabric, leading to domestic violence and sexual harassment among the affected communities.
Promoting plantations as forests is “misleading,” said the rural women’s organisations and environmental groups, which pointed to the “countless negative impacts” that these projects have on the lives of rural families, and particularly on women, who are “disempowered” by the expansion of these single-crop plantations.
The document the women put forth was signed by the March of Women, The Peasant Women’s Movement of Brazil and the Centre for Environment Studies. It was also backed by GRAIN, Friends of the Earth, The Rural Women’s Movement and the World Rainforest Movement.
These tree plantations are more than just a minor headache. Along with pushing rural families off their land in Brazil, the plantations have ruined the livelihoods of the families as the land suffered severe droughts, abrupt temperature changes, severe loss of biodiversity, food crop reduction, drying up of water sources and degradation of soil fertility.
Two books have resulted from this ordeal, Brazil: Women and Eucalyptus: Stories of Life and Resistance, and The European Union’s Role in the Disempowerment of Women of the South through the Conversion of Local Ecosystems into Tree Plantations.
To understand more about this ongoing struggle, read the full article on Common Dreams
Slate’s weekly column My Goodness gives some good advice for anyone looking to help in getting a safe water supply to the 1 billion people who lack access.
Some 3.5 million people die each year from water-related diseases, and almost 3 million of them are children. While most Americans simply turn on the tap, people in many parts of the world spend three hours searching for clean water each day. Not because there isn’t enough water to go around but because poor people are systematically denied access to the clean water they need.
The column lists three main ways to aid countries like Honduras, Guatemala, etc.
1. Donate. According to Sandy Stonesifer, $20 gives 20 years of safe drinking water to one person, $200 gives a Honduran household tap water and a toilet
2. Volunteer. Doing anything from educating others to physical labor in Africa can make a difference
3. Speak up. Support legislation that supports safer water initiatives by asking your senators to co-sponsor the bill.
No matter what you do, there’s an enormous potential for return on your investment. Every $1 spent on water and sanitation programs creates an average of $8 in costs averted and productivity gained—not to mention the lives it saves.