The Commodifiation of Forests, Motive for Removing Communities in Chiapas
** El Triunfo, the reserve with which the state government entered the carbon credit market
** They accuse that conservation arguments consist of to stop planting corn in the zone
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, May 20, 2012
Among the principal economic motives for removing communities from the forests that they inhabit is the sale of carbon credits, maintain civilian organisms belonging to the Network for Peace Chiapas (Sipaz, Desmi, Frayba and others). At COP 16 (Conference of the Parties) in Cancún, in December 2010, Mexico entered the program Reduction of Emissions product of Deforestation and environmental Degradation (REDD Plus), whose basic idea is that countries that are willing and can reduce carbon emissions that come from deforestation ought to be financially compensated.
In a 122-page report, critical of the rural cities project and environmental policy in Chiapas, divulged this week, the civil organisms remind that, simultaneously, the governor signed an agreement with his then counterparts from California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Acre, Brazil, Arnobio Márques de Almeida, which started “a market for buying and selling carbon credits that is part of the project known as REDD Plus.”
In 2009, the Action Program before Climate Change in Chiapas (PACCCH, its initials in Spanish) had been established with support from the British Embassy, Conservation International, a conservationist NGO (“that they use as intermediary with the communities”) and academic institutions like the Southern Border College (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur), which has collaborated to implement the REDD Plus Project with the National Forest Commission; though recently it has attempted to distance itself publicly, it has not done so with sufficient clarity.
The governor of Chiapas, the report emphasizes, “is convinced that adding on to the ‘payment for environmental services’ is a project for life,” and it quotes the governor: “Your children and grandchildren are going to thank him because they are going to live, they are going to receive money for taking care of it, let’s gamble for them, those who are little, so that you have the certainty that your children are going to live in the future, are going to live from conservation of the reserves, from tourism and the production of rubber or palm for oil.”
“Ecological” interests of the development plans imply the commercialization of the forests, for which the authorities consider it necessary “that the communities inside the reserves be relocated or not use the lands for small farming activities, like occurs in El Triunfo, Reserve with which the Chiapas government entered the carbon market.” But the crown jewel in this market, as will be seen in the next reports, would be the Montes Azules Reserve, in the Lacandón Jungle.
The report on the mission of the Network for Peace points out: “As is well known, to the indigenous peoples the corn, which has been cultivated on Chiapas lands since thousands of years ago, has a big nutritional and cultural importance.” Nevertheless, one of the government’s arguments for “conserving biodiversity” consists of stopping the planting of corn. The governor has said that: “it does a lot of damage to the planet, while the reserve, the great wealth that its residents have, would be finished.”
REDD Plus promotes a “productive reconversion” so that the campesinos stop producing their own foods, like corn, and cultivate products for fuels or construction materials (rubber, African Palm). The sale of carbon to transnationals that it seeks to establish in the forests of Chiapas also “implies the displacement of the communities for carrying out another government project: sustainable rural cities.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Monday, May 21, 2012