Report On The Activities
Of Jefferson Smurfit Group
Patricia McKenna, MEP
We would like to dedicate this report to the memory of the Colombian environmentalists:
Gloria Sofia Zapata
1. ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF COLOMBIAN EUCALYPTUS AND PINE PLANTATIONS
1.1 Global Demand for Pulpwood
1.2 Production Forests in Colombia 14
1.3 Smurfit Carton de Colombia (SCC) Forest Plantations 18
1.3.1 Pinus patula: 18
1.3.2 Eucalyptus grandis 19
1.4 The Puerto Isaacs Pulp Mill, Yumbo 22
1.5 SCC Recycling Operations 22
1.6 SCC and the CAMCORE Co-operative to Conserve Threatened Species 23
1.7 The SCC Breeding Programme 24
1.8 Social Investments by SCC in Colombia 25
1.9 Impact of SCC Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations on Local People 26
1.10 Environmental Management in Colombia 33
1.10.1 The Environmental Role of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of QuindÌo (CRQ) 34
1.11 Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations 37
1.12 Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus on Colombian Biodiversity 38
1.12.1 Destruction of Native Forest 38
1.12.2 Biodiversity in Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations 42
1.12.3 The Wetlands on SCC Land 55
1.12.4 Conservation of Old Crop Varieties 56
1.12.5 Forest Fires on SCC Land and Their Effects on Biodiversity 56
1.12.6 Water Supply and Demand in Colombia 59
1.13 The Environmental Impact of Eucalyptus and Pine Plantations on Colombian Water Resources 60
1.14 Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations on Soil 68
1.15 The Future of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations in Colombia 70
2.SMURFIT CARTÓN DE COLOMBIA IN THE RAINFORESTS OF BAJO CALIMA: THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS 73
2.1 INTRODUCTION 73
2.2 BACKGROUND 73
2.3 INVESTIGATION 75
2.3.1. Conditions Prior to the Concession 76
2.3.1 (a) Condition of the environment prior to the concession 76
2.3.1 (b) Condition of the community prior to the concession 77
2.3.2 Damage Resulting from the Concession 78
2.3.2 (a) Damage to the environment during the concession 78
2.3.2 (b) Damage to the community during the concession 78
2.3.3. Possible Causes of Damage 80
2.3.3 (a) Clear-cutting system operated by Carton de Colombia 80
2.3.3 (b) Activities of colonists 84
2.3.3 (c) Socio-economic changes brought about by the presence of Carton de Colombia. 84
2.3.4. Responsibility for Damage 86
2.3.4 (a) Use of an inappropriate harvesting system by Carton de Colombia 86
2.3.4 (b) Failure of Carton de Colombia to monitor or control the activities of colonists 89
2.3.4 (c) Failure by Carton de Colombia to consult the local community 90
2.4 CONCLUSIONS 92
3. THE CORPORACIÓN REGIONAL QUINDÍO 94
4. THE PEOPLE'S REPRESENTITIVES OPPOSE PLANTATIONS 96
4.1 Background 96
4.2 Salento 97
4.3 Role of the CRQ in Dispute with Salento 97
4.4 Trouble over the Horizon 99
5. THE PERSECUTION OF NESTOR OCAMPO 100
6. THE DISPUTE WITH THE PAEZ INDIANS 102
6.1 Background to the Dispute 102
6.2 El Diamante 103
6.3 Agroforestal - El Naya 104
6.4 Sale - Mortgage Contract 104
6.4 Joint Venture Contract 105
7. LABOUR RELATIONS 108
7.1 Penal 108
7.2 Sackings 109
7.3 Why? 112
7.4 Health and Safety 112
7.5 Unions, Health and Safety Outside Plant 113
8. HONESTY AND OPENNESS 114
Patricia McKenna, MEP
For many years I have been concerned about the effects of Smurfit Carton de Colombia's (SCC) activities on the environment and local communities of Colombia. I welcomed the opportunity to go there and see first hand what was happening. I joined the delegation during the second week of their visit. I arrived on Saturday 14th November and stayed with the delegation until after their exit meeting with SCC on Friday 20th. I was quite disturbed by a number of aspects regarding the activities and practices of SCC:
Our visit to the reservation of the Paez Indians was both enlightening and educational. The key concerns these people raised with me was the continuous pressure and intimidation they were put under by an organization called Agroforestal. They spoke of their farms being attacked and their crops being destroyed. These people's tradition and way of life needs to be protected not threatened. They have much to teach us about sustainability and surviving in harmony with nature.
The Paez Indians have their own school in the area which I visited. It was in an extremely remote part of the mountains and very difficult to get to. The school had little or no facilities. When I say facilities, I mean basic materials such as paper, pencils and school books.
Although it is not permitted to plant within the wetland areas or close to the barrier fencing, I did observe trees planted right up to the fencing and within the wetland areas. It was also evident that chemical substances were used around these trees including those in the centre of the wetland area. Despite being assured that SCC had not destroyed primary forests we actually visited areas where primary forests were destroyed to provide access to plantations.
Another concern raised by ecologists was that when plantations are cleared there is a tendency to encroach on the primary forest. A further problem is the effect these plantations are having on the soil. I observed that the soil within the plantations was extremely dry even though this was the wet season. During our exit meeting with SCC I received no reassuring evidence that the effect on the soil was being closely and carefully monitored.
In some of the areas I visited which were on very steep slopes, I believe there is a danger that when the trees are cut down the soil will be totally exposed to the elements and will inevitably lead to massive soil erosion.
In some of the areas we visited local people expressed deep concern about the demand these plantations placed on local water supplies.
There was also concern expressed about the fact that heavy vehicle activity on the routes to and from the plantations were having a negative impact on the quality of the local roads.
Finally on the issue of workers rights and labour laws, I was very disturbed by SCC's employment practices. Apparently many people are employed through sub-contractors. This has raised problems for a number of people I spoke to. Some claimed that the subcontractors did not fulfill their social security obligations. Despite believing they were covered, it was only when an accident happened that they realised they were not covered.
Because they were employed by a subcontractor SCC claimed no responsibility. When these people went to look for the sub-contractors they found no records available and the contractor would have changed name. I believe this practice of using sub-contractors allows the company to avoid its responsibility to its workers. This practice would not be tolerated in Ireland.
There also appears to be a problem with the ability of trade unions to operate in a free and unhindered fashion. Although we were told that most workers choose not to join a trade union, I could not help feeling that this was because they did not want to prejudice their chance of getting a job.LIST OF CONTENTS
Several years ago disturbing rumours started emerging from Colombia concerning the operations of the Jefferson Smurfit Group in that country. The rumours related to possible adverse environmental and social effects of pine and eucalyptus plantations, to a forestry concession on the Pacific Coast and to a land dispute with an indigenous tribe, among other issues.
In order to investigate these matters it was decided to buy some shares in the company, as the possession of even one share gives the right of participation in the company's annual general meeting and permits direct questioning of Michael Smurfit, the company chairman, in an open forum. This group of concerned shareholders attended several AGMs where we pursued the issues. Smurfits then invited us to visit their Colombian operations. We accepted this invitation and made a two week visit to Colombia in November 1998. The first week was spent seeing and hearing Smurfit's side of the story, while the second week was spent with our own contacts. We were joined on that second week by Patricia McKenna MEP.
This is the report of our visit.
LIST OF CONTENTS
In 1986 the Jefferson Smurfit Group took over the Colombian pulpwood company Carton de Colombia, which then became known as Smurfit Carton de Colombia or SCC.
Smurfit Carton de Colombia sometimes operates under the names of subsidiaries, eg. Pulpapel, Reforestadora Andina etc. However for the sake of clarity these are referred to throughout the report as SCC or Smurfit Carton de Colombia, unless describing company operations prior to the acquistion by Jefferson Smurfit Group, when the name Carton de Colombia is used.
LIST OF CONTENTS
Smurfit Carton de Colombia Forest Plantations
Smurfit Carton de Colombia (SCC) has a total landholding of 58,000 hectares of which 36,000 hectares are planted with pine (25,000 hectares) and eucalyptus (11,000 hectares). Planting took place with the help of The Certificate of Incentive Forestry (CIF) that gives generous economic incentives to larger farmers and forest companies to plant native or introduced species. The two main species planted by SCC for pulp are Pinus patula and Eucalyptus grandis.
Small and medium size cultivators with up to 500 hectares can avail of the incentive. However in order to benefit from the CIF, one has to have a forest establishment and management plan with so many technical requirements that no campesino (farmer) could possibly fulfill them to qualify for grant aid.
Both native and exotic tree plantations are not bad in themselves but it is the social context and the geographical location in which they are planted that determines their potential to have adverse environmental and social impacts.
Social and Environmental Investments by SCC
SCC are involved in a number of environmentally beneficial activities including recycling of waste paper, conservation of threatened tree species (Pinus chiapensis and Prumnopitys spp.) and the setting up of four Forestry and Agricultural Technical Institutes (ITAFs) designed to offer opportunities for study, develop forestry, animal farming and agriculture.
However in spite of such social investments, there are local people who claim that SCC has had a negative impact on their quality of life. Since at least the early 1980s, Colombian environmental and development organisations, Municipal Councils, local campesinos, ecologists and the Colombian print media have questioned the planting of pine and eucalyptus plantations on account of their potential adverse effects. These include displacing campesinos from their land by land purchases, reducing biodiversity and water flows and accelerating soil erosion. There is also concern that forestry plantations provide less work than the farms that the forestry plantations displaced.
Impact of SCC Plantations
On August 27th 1997, the Municipality of Filandia, QuindÌo banned pine and eucalyptus in certain areas of the municipality. The Department of Risaralda is considering banning the planting of pine and eucalyptus in the Department until it can be shown without doubt that they do not adversely affect the environment. The Corporacion Regional de QuindÌoí (CRQ - the environmental agency for QuindÌo) is involved in the establishment of commercial forestry plantations. Sometimes they are involved in conjunction with forestry companies that they themselves are charged with monitoring. This must be called into question. In addition, staffing levels at the CRQ are inadequate to carry out its environmental protection role including the monitoring of commercial forestry plantations.
Impact of SCC Plantations on Biodiversity
The major threats to biodiversity are considered to be cattle ranching, logging and cocoa growing which have caused extensive soil degradation and loss of habitat. The Colombian Ministry of the Environment puts deforestation rates at 150,000 hectares per year with only 10,000 hectares replanted.
In the vicinity of Vereda El Castillo, Municipality of Calarc·, members of the Association of Graduates of the University of QuindÌo (Asociacion de Egresados en Biologia de la Universidad del QuindÌo) found the remains of native vegetation throughout which eucalyptus had been planted by Reforestadora Andina (subsidiary of SCC). The respected Colombian botanist Cristina Velez confirmed that many of these plants are components of primary forest. After environmentalists accused SCC of the destruction of native vegetation, SCC sued for libel on two separate occasions but the company lost their case twice.
At La Palmira Alta, SCC does not deny clearing disturbed primary forest to construct a road to facilitate timber harvesting. We consider the clearing of any relatively undisturbed primary forest unacceptable due to the rapid logging of native forests in Colombia as a whole and argue that the road could have been re-routed away from the native vegetation.
In general, the species of flora and fauna that colonise forest plantations are often widespread pioneer species. The plantations tend to lack the rare species with specialist requirements. In any case, the few species that do manage to adapt to plantations are often disturbed at the time of harvest.
On some sites that we visited, a very impoverished flora although good overall cover under pine (Pinus patula) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus grandis) was observed. We visited one such plantation that was being managed for timber production. In such an instance, pioneer species would have been given a relatively long time to colonise, occupying light gaps formed by natural tree fall.
Plantations managed for timber production cannot be considered representative of the majority of SCC plantations grown for pulpwood which are harvested after only 7 years in the case of Eucalyptus grandis and after 15 years in the case of Pinus patula.
Planting pine on degraded pastures may not be as environmentally benign as SCC claims. Some species of flora and fauna are confined to these pastures, demonstrating the need to conserve some areas of pasture within the plantation zone to maximise species diversity. Some pasture sites may have higher overall diversity than some planted sites depending on the plantation age and how it is managed.
Data on the impacts on the fauna and flora of site preparation, fertilisation of the trees and timber harvesting is sparse but is currently being investigated by Colombian researchers. It demonstrates that these issues were not examined prior to allowing the large-scale afforestation of Colombia with exotic species.
SCC are in breach of CRQ regulations that stipulate that 30 m should be left between the centre of wetlands and tree plantings at one of their plantation sites.
SCC in their involvement with various reforestation projects in areas of arable land have failed to ensure that there is no loss of valuable crop varieties which might be of future use in breeding new high yielding or pest resistant varieties by initiating such an agricultural crop variety conservation programme.
Forest Fires on SCC Land
SCC has been prosecuted twice for allowing fires in two separate locations to burn out of control and destroy the last remnants of primary forest that remain at these altitudes.
At one site 1,000 m≤ of native forest and 10 hectares of plantations were affected.
The sanction imposed was negligible, obliging SCC to replant 3 hectares of native forest. SCC did not replant all the native species destroyed in the fire as some of the native species were difficult to reproduce. In effect, the replanted forest is a poor copy of the original forest that existed before the fire with its myriad of species associations. In addition we considered it unacceptable that SCC was not required to maintain the native plantings.
At the second site SCC were fined nine minimum salaries for the forestry infraction totalling only 800,000 pesos, again a derisory sum considering the profits made by SCC and the irreplaceable nature of the native forest lost. The fire affected 1200m2 of natural forest and vegetation in succession.
Impact of SCC Plantations on Water Resources
Commercial forestry plantations have been accused of adversely affecting water resources either by increasing runoff resulting in flooding or decreasing it by interception by the tree canopy and its subsequent re-evaporation into the atmosphere thereby reducing water supply to rural and urban populations. Others maintain that by consuming excessive amounts of groundwater supplies e.g. lowering the water table, relative to pastures, plantations can dry out wetlands which fulfil a number of functions such as purifying wastes and acting as breeding and nurseries for commercial fish species not to mention their wildlife value.
There are some studies carried out in hydrographic watersheds that show reductions in flows as a result of a change of cover from grass to eucalyptus plantations. The influence of eucalyptus and pine on surface runoff depends on the species used, local conditions of climate, slope and management of the under-storey.
A revision of 94 experiments in micro-watersheds affirmed that pine and eucalyptus can cause an average decrease of water performance of 40 mm for each 10% change in vegetation cover. This is sufficient evidence to warrant concern, as some areas of Risaralda Department where SCC has commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus, (e.g. Santa Rosa de Cabal) are projected to suffer from water shortages in the long-term. This calls into question whether the planting of pine and eucalyptus in these areas is an appropriate land-use.
Impact of SCC Plantations on Soil
An unacceptable level of soil erosion has been a problem in Colombia from the time of the commencement of agriculture, substantially increasing due to inappropriate cattle-rearing practises.
The limited number of comparative studies that exist on soil erosion below crops of eucalyptus and other types of vegetation are at times contradictory. In general, the incidence of erosion appears to be low in lands utilised permanently under tree cover as has been found in numerable studies (Eljk and Moreno, 1986, cited in CONIF 1998a).
However there is some evidence that mature stands of Eucalyptus spp. are not adequate for erosion control, especially when grown in large-scale plantations, where they were not very effective in detaining surface runoff.
The amount of soil lost from SCC land from the time of clear-cutting to the time of replanting is not known as the company does not monitor soil losses on all its plantation sites. The soil in SCC plantations is often left exposed for between two and three months before planting.
SCC in the Rainforests of Bajo Calima
In 1974 the Colombian government granted Carton de Colombia/Pulpapel a concession of 61,600 ha. of tropical rainforest to harvest in the Pacific coast area of Bajo Calima. In 1986, Smurfit took over the company which then became known as Smurfit Carton de Colombia (SCC). The concession was terminated in 1993.
The area of the concession was an area of exceptionally high biodiversity, being one of the most species-rich areas of rainforest in the world and containing many species found nowhere else on the planet: an area of immense ecological value. It is alleged by the local community (among others) that during the time of the concession, Carton de Colombia was responsible for the environmental, social, economic and cultural devastation of the area, and furthermore, that the manner of their leaving in 1993 made the situation even worse.
We concluded that the presence of the Carton de Colombia in Bajo Calima during the 19 years of the concession contributed, both directly and indirectly, to a serious deterioration in the quality of life of the local community and the widespread destruction of their environment. This is beyond dispute, attested to both by the community itself and by independent scientific reports.
We consider therefore that Smurfit Carton de Colombia has a moral responsibility to repair the damage done to both the community and the forests of Bajo Calima.
The Corporacion Regional QuindÌo
The environmental authorities have been ineffective in monitoring and controlling the damage done to the environment. In at least one case, that of the CRQ, they have actively participated in an industry they are supposed to regulate.
Peoples Representatives Oppose Plantations
Many elected bodies, regional parliaments and town halls have all tried to legally halt the spread of pine and eucalytus plantations. SCC and others have fought legal battles to challenge the legal validity of such decisions. They have met with mixed success. We fully support these attempts by the people to exercise their democractic rights. We believe that SCC should listen to these elected representives and meet their concerns rather than trying to challenge their decisions on mere technicalities.
The Persecution of Nestor Ocanpo
Those who have opposed SCC has on occasion been unsuccessfully sued for libel. We reject these attempts to silence environmentalists.
The Dispute with the Paez Indians
The land dispute with the Paez Indians continues. Smurfits agreed to meet them to discuss the situation but to date have not lived up to this promise made when the Paez visited Ireland last year. As a result of our investigation we have found that the Paez claim of territory has some justification. It is not that SCC bought the land illegally but that this was done under a legal regime which did not recognise the Indians. We further found that one of the farms in dispute belongs to SCC and that they could begin to negotiate its future now as a measure of good faith. We were not impressed by Agroforestal's version of events nor by SCC's claim that this is an independent company over which they have no control. Legally they could solve this problem now and we call on them to hand over the land the Indians claim and to compensate Agroforestal. We further believe that the contracts with Agroforestal should be revoked and new contracts drawn up which give real independence to these peasants in their dealings with SCC.
Many trade unionists have been sacked from Smurfit Carton de Colombia without any just cause given. Their trade union leaders have been sacked in contravention of Colombia labour law. SCC has refused to reinstate these workers. They further refuse to recognise these trade unionists as the elected representatives of the workers. This despite the fact that the Ministry of Labour continues to recognise them and has in fact fined SCC for the sackings. We call on SCC to reinstate these workers and to withdraw the criminal charges made against their leaders
Honesty and Openness
We further found that SCC was less than open and honest with us.
LIST OF CONTENTS
ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF COLOMBIAN EUCALYPTUS AND PINE PLANTATIONS
1.1 Global Demand for Pulpwood
Future global increase in paper consumption is hard to quantify as it depends on such factors as population growth, the amount of packaging around manufactured goods and the relative costs of paper versus other packaging materials. The development of an ethic involving reduction of paper use, the reuse of paper and the recycling of paper will also affect consumption. In spite of efforts at reducing paper use, the consumption of pulp is expected to rise substantially in the coming years. Paper consumption in Colombia is 26 kg/person/year while in Ireland it is 100 kg/person/year. An average citizen in the richer countries can use over 155 kg/year of paper and paperboard. In the United States, the corresponding figure is 325 kg. In the developing world, an average citizen may use only 5 kg/year.
Presently most wood chips for pulp manufacture in Colombia as in other tropical countries (such as Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand) have been derived from fast-growing exotic species such as pine (Pinus spp.) or (Eucalyptus spp.) grown in commercial plantations.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.2 Production Forests in Colombia
Estimates of the total amount of tropical tree plantations up to the year 1990 vary between 37.5 million hectares and 43.9 million hectares (in Carrere and Lohmann, 1996).
To feed pulp and paper mills, vast areas of pine, eucalyptus and acacia are increasingly being established in developing countries where fast tree growth, inexpensive land and labour and lavish government subsidies make wood production cheap.
Fast-growing plantations amount to only about 25% of the total industrial plantation area, but their importance to global wood supply, particularly pulpwood supply is out of all proportion to their size.
In Indonesia some industrialists expect 3-4.6 million hectares of land to be under short-rotation pulpwood plantations by 2003 while Thai officials envisage over 4 million hectares being put under private-sector plantations by 2020. Ethiopia has mooted plans to plant as much as 3.5 million hectares by 2,000, Malaysia 500,,000 hectares, and Burundi 300,,000 hectares (Evans, 1991 in Carrere and Lohmann, 1996).
The most commonly planted pine species have been Pinus patula, P. caribaea, P. elliotti, P. merkusii, P. kesiya and P. oocarpa. The most commonly planted eucalyptus species have been Eucalyptus grandis, E. camaldulensis, E. globulus, E. saligna, E. tereticornis, E. robusta, E. citriodora, E. urophylla and E. deglupta. Error! Reference source not found. Over 19 million hectares of fast-growing pine plantations and over 6 million hectares of eucalyptus are currently in existence (in Carrere and Lohmann, 1996).
Colombia has an area of 110 million hectares with a population of 38 million. Deforestation in the country is considered high; between 350,,000-700,,000 hectares per year depending on the source of the data. This is in contrast to the 304,206 hectares reforested up to 1993. According to IDEAM (http: //www.ideam.gov.co) for each hectare planted 60 hectares are felled.
The National Census of Population and Housing of 1985, maintains that 35.8% of the Colombian population depends on firewood for cooking. This has accelerated the cutting and degradation of forests, generated soil erosion and sedimentation of water bodies and has affected forest biodiversity. In Colombia, it was estimated that in 1995, the consumption of wood for energy was divided up among the following uses: 84.5% for cooking, 15% by the farming and mining sector and only 0.5% by the industrial sector.
There has been a decrease in the consumption of wood due to its substitution in the energy sector by natural gas and electric energy. The utilisation of firewood for cooking is a very wasteful process: only 7% of the calorific value of the wood being used with the remaining 93% being lost (http: //www.ideam.gov.co). Eucalyptus is considered to have a high calorific value; one of the reasons why it is planted in social forestry projects for fuelwood.
In Colombia forests for wood production have been planted since 1945. There are three types of plantation: industrial plantations, protective forests and ornamental forests in urban areas. The Instituto de HidrÛlogia MeteorologÌa y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM) proposes as part of its forest policy to reforest 160,,000 hectares and establish 4,0000 hectares of watershed protection plantations (http: //www.ideam.gov.co) with the help of an economic instrument called the Certificate of Incentive Forestry (CIF).
The Certificate of Incentive Forestry was established under Law 139, 1994 which came into effect in 1995. It gives generous economic incentives to larger farmers and forest companies to plant native or introduced species. The support measures provide 75% of the costs of establishing native species and 50% of the establishment costs for introduced species. The upkeep of the trees for the first five years is also funded. The funding is the same whether it is an introduced or a native species. The farmer or forest company can exploit these plantations when they mature. Up to December 1997, $10 thousand million pesos had been paid.
In 1997, a CIF was created for the conservation of natural forests but up to 1998 no fund had been established to finance this scheme that would be of immense environmental value (Broderick, 1998). The Certificate of Incentive Forestry was established under Law 139, 1994 which came into effect in 1995. It gives generous economic incentives to larger farmers and forest companies to plant native or introduced species. Indeed according to Cecilia LÛpez MontaÒo, ex minister of agriculture, the explicit intention of Law 139 was to give an incentive to reforestation activity in the country with the proposition of supplying industry with forest products provided from cultivated forests.
Small and medium size cultivators with up to 500 hectares can avail of the incentive. However according to JosÈ Romero AguillÛn, director of the organisation Fedecaucho, in order to benefit from the CIF, one has to have a forest establishment and management plan with so many technical requirements that no campesino (farmer) could possibly fulfill them to qualify for grant aid (Broderick, 1998).
According to the Instituto Geografico Augustin Codazzi, large areas of land currently used for agriculture and livestock are not suitable for these purposes but are suitable for forestry (Instituto Geogr·fico Augustin Codazzi , 1998). In Colombia, 12.7% of land is considered suitable for cultivation. But only 38% of this potential is being used representing 4.66% of the national territory. The total amount of land suitable for agricultural use can diminish rapidly due to the degradation of the soil by erosion, desertification and salinization.
Lands under forest cover occupy 49% of the national territory of which 68.5% are considered suitable for forests. Colombian forests have been divided into three main categories:
(Instituto Geografico Augustin Codazzi, 1998)
According to the Atlas of Colombia (Instituto Geogr·fico Agustin Codazzi, 1998), production forests in the Andean region are found in zones with a humid and rainy climate, generally undulating relief of slopes less than 25% and shallow acid stony soils. These areas are found in very localised areas, in the colder climatic zones. The surface covered by production forests in the Andean region is 111,051 hectares that represents 0.38% of the land area of the region.
The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) considers that exotic species often have initial superior performance and management advantages but that they may lack long-term adaptation to the soil and climatic conditions of the site. It states that forest managers and planners should therefore not assume that the initial growth advantages of exotic species would be maintained without additional management inputs over time.
Given the choice however, plantations are rarely established on degraded land as the objective is to grow trees quickly to maximise profits which requires a certain level of fertility and water supply; areas which have been used by Colombian campesinos for agriculture.
Plantations are a high-risk venture in that if economic circumstances change, the chances of maintaining essential management inputs are reduced. Government subsidies such as the aforementioned Certificate of Incentive Forestry reduce these risks. Tropical forest plantations are costly to establish and so the Colombian government has tended to heavily subsidise them with the Colombian taxpayer's money.
Both native and exotic tree plantations are not bad in themselves but it is the social context and the geographical location where they are planted that determines their potential to have adverse environmental and social impacts. Pandey (1992, in Carrere and Lohmann, 1996) calculated that there were 180,,000 hectares of tree plantations in Colombia of which 31,,000 were eucalyptus and 88,,000 were pine. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.3 Smurfit Carton de Colombia (SCC) Forest Plantations
Smurfit Carton de Colombia plants and manages pine and eucalyptus plantations in the Departments of Cauca, Valle, Tolima, QuindÌo, Caldas and Risaralda. The total SCC land holding amounts to 58,,000 hectares of which 36,,000 hectares are planted with pine (25,,000 hectares) and eucalyptus (11,,000 hectares). The remainder is natural forest totalling 18,,000 hectares. Infrastructure such as forest roads amount to 4,,000 hectares. The two main species planted by SCC for pulp are Pinus patula and Eucalyptus grandis. The characteristics of these species are outlined below.
1.3.1 Pinus patula:
There are 28370 hectares of commercial plantations of Pinus patula in Colombia. Pinus patula is native to the north-east and south-east of Mexico. It is widely planted in Ecuador, Africa and New Zealand. In Colombia, Pinus patula grows between 800-3300m, with an annual precipitation of 1,000-3,000 mm and average temperatures between 8-22∞C. It develops well in deep humid neutral or acid, well-drained sandy-clay soils, derived form volcanic ash. This pine can reach 20-30m in height and a diameter of 1 m.
It is the most important introduced species used in Colombian commercial reforestation, owing to its rapid growth, and diversity of uses. It has been used for the recuperation of degraded soils and as part of a silvo-pastoral system where individual trees are planted in pastureland. Its wood is used for saw-wood, cases, chests, construction, floors, posts, turned products and pulp for paper (Tokura et. al, 1996).
When establishing Pinus patula plantations, the grasses and herbaceous plants around the planted trees are eradicated using the herbicide glyphosate. Planted at a distance of 3 x 3 m, 1111 trees per hectare are obtained. Total weed control is carried out each time that the weeds reach 50 cm in height or two thirds of the height of the tree; an operation that is repeated in the second and third years.
Pinus patula is very susceptible to deficiencies of boron and phosphorous. Independent of the analysis of the soil, 50-70 g of NPK and 10-15 g of 68% Borax per tree is applied. SCC has the largest area of commercial Pinus patula in Colombia totalling 7044 hectares in 1995 (CONIF, 1998a). Pinus patula is inoculated with a mixture of mycorrhizae. These are fungi that help the trees to utilise soil nutrients. Fungi employed in the inoculation process are: Boletus sp., Rhizopogon sp. and Pisolithus tinctorius. Inoculation is carried out in the seedbed using fruiting bodies, mycelia or infected earth.
Pruning is carried out between the fourth and fifth years with as much as 50% of the crown removed. The second pruning in the rotation takes place between years eight and nine to a maximum height of 6-7 m. Growth rates in good soil can reach 35 m≥/ha/year, with an average yield of 20 m≥/ha/year.
1.3.2 Eucalyptus grandis
Eucalyptus grandis is native to the coastal region of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. In Australia it is called Flooded Gum. It is adapted to an altitude range of 1,000-2200 m, precipitation between 1,000-3,000mm/year and temperatures from 10-35∞C, corresponding to the following life zones of Holdridge (1967): Humid Premontane Forest, Humid Tropical Forest, Tropical Dry Forest, Very Humid Premontane Forest, and Very Humid Lower Montane Forest.
Eucalyptus grandis can reach heights of 25-50 m and trunk diameters of 2 m It requires deep well-drained soils of variable texture but preferably open clays, neutral to acid pH and high fertility. It is sensitive to the boron deficiency which is characteristic of the volcanic soils found under some of the landholdings of SCC. These volcanic soils are also deficient in phosphorous. The fertility of these volcanic soils is a function of the age of the volcanic eruption. At planting, 70 g of NPK and 10 g of 68% Borax, is applied independent of the analysis of the soil with a further 70 g of NPK at random in the second year and 15 g of 68% Borax in the third year.
It is the most commonly planted eucalyptus species in the world as a result of its high volumetric output. In Colombia yields can reach between 24 and 38m≥/ha/year. Its wood is used for cabinets and joinery, telephone and electric posts, fences, construction of housing, floors and panels, pulp for the manufacture of paper and firewood. Its use for firewood is due to its high calorific value and pulp for paper (Tokura et al., 1996). It has been used to recuperate zones degraded by bad livestock-rearing practices. SCC and other entities have promoted the use of Eucalyptus grandis for live fences (Uribe & MarÌn, 1996).
Eucalyptus grandis is widely used to make pulp because it has a whitish wood with a low lignin content and therefore it requires less bleaching than other woods. It also has relatively short wood fibres of 2mm ideal for pulp making.
Management involves the total cleaning of the land of grasses and other herbaceous plants prior to planting as it cannot tolerate competition. Weeding is very important for the first two years. If the slope is less than 30%, ploughing and raking of the land is carried out to permit rapid growth.
Mycorrhizae are fundamental to the achievement of the high growth rates of Eucalyptus grandis. These are fungi that form a relationship with plant roots enhancing nutrient uptake. The fungi used are Scleroderma sp. and Laccaria laccata. The fungi are cut up and made into a soup which is supplied to the seedlings a few weeks after they germination. There is a separate inoculation area of Eucalyptus grandis in the Restrepo nursery that provides supplementary supplies of the fruiting bodies of Scleroderma. The fungi are also collected from the wild. Eucalyptus grandis does not require pruning except when it is being coppiced.
The following private companies or public entities have planted Eucalyptus grandis: Sociedad Cafetera del Valle, SCC, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle del Cauca (CVC), CiprÈses de Colombia and the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Risaralda (CARDER). Out of all these entities, SCC has by far the most land under E. grandis in Colombia. In 1996, out of a total of 9007 hectares of commercial E. grandis plantations in Colombia (CONIF, 1998a), SCC has 8651 hectares of commercial plantations of E. grandis.
In Colombia marginal soils that have performed poorly under pasture and arable land can be productive for forestry plantations where yields of pine and eucalyptus exceed 25 m≥/ha/year (Ladrach & Zobel, 1986).
Pasturelands occupy 35.11% of the national territory but only 16.8% are suitable for this activity. Pastures may be of several types including:
Between 1980-89, Colombia increased the land area under pasture by 35% from 30 million hectares in 1980 to 40.2 million hectares in 1989. This was the highest increase of all countries in the Latin American and the Caribbean region. In the same period however, cattle population only increased 2% from 24.7 million heads of cattle in 1980 to 25.2 million in 1989 with a reduction in meat production per hectare from 20 kg/ha in 1980 to 16 kg/ha in 1989. This data shows the magnitude of this activity in Colombia but also the inefficiency of cattle rearing activity in Colombia.
Scrub regeneration on the cattle pasture is often cleared by the campesinos by burning it in the summer. During the rest of the year, it is cut by machete. Sometimes the cattle themselves are used in scrub clearance. They are driven through the scrub so that they can flatten the vegetation.
SCC claims to only plant on degraded pastureland containing such grasses as yaragu· mixed with kikuyu (Ladrach, 1983) on slopes as steep as 30-40%. Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) is a commonly used pasture grass that was introduced from Africa as packing material.
Pastureland degraded by cattle due to inappropriate farming practices may still be important for the conservation of biodiversity in that it may contain unique species characteristic of open grassland habitats.
Some of the cattle farms purchased by SCC has exceeded 100 hectares. SCC claim not to have brought any new land since 1994. Land purchase has been and continues to be a controversial issue as will be discussed below.
QuindÌo is one of the Departments where SCC plants pine and eucalyptus. It is one of the smallest departments in Colombia. It is situated at the heart of the zona cafetera (the coffee producer zone) with a relatively high standard of living in the rural areas.
Land use in QuindÌo Department is divided up as follows: natural forest 34%, pastures 30%, coffee 27% (53,602 hectares), forestry 3%, other crops 2%, urban areas 1%, bare land and glaciers 3%.
Natural forests cover 34% of QuindÌo, pastures (30%), and coffee (27%). Forestry plantations take up 3% of the land area. The land holdings of SCC amount to 3.6% or 7104 hectares of the Department of which 2% are plantations and 1.6% are protected natural forests inherited from the previous owners.
Most of the land owned by SCC in QuindÌo is centred around Salento (3645 hectares) and Pijao (2510 hectares). Plantations also occur around Calarc· and Filandia. SCC employs 230 in QuindÌo, has built 70 km of new roads, maintains 40 km/year and harvests 25,000 tons of wood per year.
We were brought on guided tours of the following: the SCC nursery and a social investment project at Restrepo, Valle del Cauca Department, eucalyptus and pine plantations in QuindÌo Department and the Puerto Isaacs pulp-mill, Yumbo. We were also given presentations on SCC activities. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.4 The Puerto Isaacs Pulp Mill, Yumbo
At the Yumbo Pulp Mill north of Cali, there is a pulp plant, four paper and board machines, and one corrugated packaging machine and one sack machine. Other mills in Bogot·, MedellÌn and Barranquilla have each got one corrugated packaging plant. The debarked logs are chipped. The lignin in the wood chips is then removed as it causes paper to yellow with age. The lignin is then burned to generate energy for the needs of the mill. The cellulose fibres that remain after removing the lignin are converted into pulp by the Kraft process that is then used as the raw material for the manufacture of packaging. Wastepaper collected from businesses is added to the pulping process.
Waste sludge from the effluent treatment plant and coal ash from the power station is taken to the landfill site and dumped. SCC claim that they were one of the first Latin American companies to use oxygen bleaches to produce TCF papers. This was probably due to developments in Scandinavia where there had been a move to chlorine-free processes in response to greater environmental awareness.
SCC sales in 1997 amounted to 224,000 tons of paper and packaging products utilising 18,0000 tons of softwood, 362,000 tons of hardwood, wastepaper consumption 95,000 tons. SCC directly employs 2065. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.5 SCC Recycling Operations
Colombia's apparent paper and board consumption is close to 1 million tons of which 70% is produced in Colombia. In 1998, SCC collected and recycled 80,000 tons of waste paper consisting of trimmings from the paper and board industry, and packaging from shopping centres, stores and supermarkets. Forty-three percent of the 80,000 tons came from industrial sources, 52% from commerce and 5% from houses. This activity employed 250 people. The recovered material is collected, sorted and bailed and then transported to the pulp-mills in Bogot·, Cali, MedellÌn and Barranquilla to be used in the manufacture of paper products.
SCC buys waste paper from 130 Colombian companies. Most of the money received is given to hospitals and charities. The programme is helping to build up a recycling culture and is to be welcomed. They have developed recycling centres in conjunction with …xito department stores where the public can deposit their waste paper, glass and cans. Again the money received is used for charity and social activities.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.6 SCC and the CAMCORE Co-operative to Conserve Threatened Species
CAMCORE was founded in 1980 to conserve forest genetic resources for breeding and conservation purposes and is based at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. CAMCORE strives to protect and improve rare and threatened forest species in Mexico and Central America and other countries. For species of high conservation value but low economic potential, e.g. Pinus chiapensis, it maintains conservation banks to maintain the genetic diversity of its wild populations. CAMCORE has collected seed from 32 species.
Recent conservation efforts have focused on such species as Pinus patula, P. jaliscana, P. maximartinezii and P. chiapensis in Mexico, Gmelina arborea in Myanmar (Burma) and Eucalyptus urophylla in Indonesia. It has the largest database on tropical and subtropical pines in the world. The seed of Pinus chiapensis, a threatened 3-5 needle pine species native to Chiapas, Mexico has been collected and stored at the Yumbo site. There is a fine example growing in the grounds of the ITAF Smurfit Social Foundation school.
Until very recently little work has been done to avoid the extinction of species of the conifer family Podocarpaceae as a result of deforestation and their use for timber. Eight members of the Podocarpaceae in three genera (Podocarpus, Prumnopitys and Retrophyllum) have been recorded in Colombia. SCC has supported research on the ecology and silviculture of the Colombian members of the Podocarpaceae involving the gathering together of all the information on this theme including various investigations and experiments carried out in their two nurseries: La Florida nursery, Popay·n, Cauca and the Rancho Grande, nursery Restrepo, Valle.
Forestry trials were carried out on a number of farms in the Departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca, QuindÌo, Caldas and Risaralda at altitudes between 1700-2100m. The areas involved ranged between 0.5 and 1.5 hectares (MarÌn VÈlez, 1998).
The Prumnopitys spp. conservation project has been going on for five years. In the wild, male trees are very rare due to logging and therefore the trees have had to be produced from cuttings. SCC has tried different concentrations of the same hormone to get the cuttings to root. They are also trying controlled cross-pollination to augment populations. SCC has discovered that the trees require shade in their initial stages of growth.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.7 The SCC Breeding Programme
The research budget of SCC amounts to US $1,000,000. The plant improvement process involves species adaptation, tree improvement and the establishment of clone plantations. The clones are selected for high growth rates and disease resistance. Various clones of eucalyptus have been selectively breed and multiplied up through the rooting of cuttings. Clone gardens are produced from cuttings. The cloning process involves cutting down the selected trees and allowing the cut stumps to sprout. The cuttings are reduced to one or two leaves and are then dipped in a mixture of talc obtained locally and 6,000 ppm Indole Butyric Acid (from Sigma Chemicals) to facilitate the development of adventitious roots from the nodes. A 92% rooting success rate has been obtained on 1.5 million cuttings per year. The rooting method has also worked well for native species.
All clones are kept in a clonal archive outside the laboratory in blocks of 20 hectares. Duplicates occur in trial plantations. Tissue cultures are not used to maintain the clones in the long-term. The newer clones have increased yields by 40%. In other words 40% less land is needed to produce the same amount of wood.
An agreement has been reached with the Colombian Coffee Federation to produce Cordia alliodora as a shade tree. This species is also good for furniture, flooring, panelling and ceilings. It has a growth rate of 2-3m per year. In years 1-5 it has a growth rate of 3 cm/year after which the rate of growth slows down.
Most plants are sold on the local market. Some projects involve planting on private land where the community provides the land and SCC plants it up and prepares the soil.
Excess plants of various species from SCC nurseries are donated to various groups. Native plants are grown when there is a demand for them. Some such as Alnus acuminata are sold at cost to private landowners and government institutions. Trees are also grown for ornamental use in SCC installations, e.g. Tabebuia chrysantha, Jacaranda caucana.
As part of the plant breeding process, SCC buys seed from commercial dealers, exchanges seed with 35 other countries or collects it themselves from their seed orchards. In the early days when seed was in short supply, some seed was collected from street trees in Cali.
The tree improvement program must produce stock which will grow at a wide range of SCC sites at altitudes between 1,000-2,800 m, average annual temperatures between 16-27∫C and annual rainfall between 1,000 and 4,000 mm/year. There is no frost at the plantation sites while temperatures rarely exceed 35-38∫C. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.8 Social Investments by SCC in Colombia
SCC has a number of social investments in the areas where they have their plantations but we have not seen any independent evaluation of these projects to determine how effective they have been in improving the quality of life of the participants.
SCC has set up four Forestry and Agricultural Technical Institutes (ITAFs) which are designed to offer opportunities for study, develop forestry, animal farming and agriculture. Two ITAFs are situated in Cauca Department and two in Valle del Cauca Department. They also claim to promote a good use of agricultural, forestry and farm animal production that generates income in rural areas thus helping to slow rural migration to the cities.
The total student population at the four ITAFs is 415. The ITAF at Restrepo, Valle del Cauca, has a school garden where various agricultural crops are raised: beans, taro or coco-yam (Colocasia esculenta). The leaves of taro are fed to fish and chickens while its roots are fed to humans, pigs and fish. The leguminous tree Leucaena leucocephala bordered the vegetable plots. It is a tree commonly used as a live fence and for firewood while its leaves and fruit are used for animal feed. The coffee was grown under the partial shade of banana trees as coffee needs a mixture of shade and light throughout the day. There is a Colombian coffee variety that can be grown in full sunlight conditions where there is land with no tree cover.
Banana plants and the tree Cordia alliodora are often used to shade coffee in Colombia. In other areas coffee is grown in the shade of canopy trees in natural forest. The banana plants give the farmer income until the coffee plants start to produce fruit (beans).
The students eat some of the vegetables and fish produced at the school while the surplus is sold in the market. The students breed good land races for the local community. There is a fish-pond containing mirror carp that are fed with produce from the farm (plantain banana, papaya) and kitchen waste. The grass Brachiaria sp. is grown as a forage crop the seeds of which attract such seed-eating birds as the Yellow-bellied seedeater.
However in spite of such social investments, there are local people who claim that SCC has had a negative impact on their quality of life as will be outlined below.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.9 Impact of SCC Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations on Local People
In Thailand since the mid-1980's, small farmers have protested against eucalyptus plantations by petitioning district officials, members of parliament and cabinet members, spoken out at national level seminars, blocking roads and marching on government offices. Failing that, eucalyptus seedlings have been ripped out, trees chopped down, bulldozers prevented from working and forest nurseries and equipment burnt.
Such actions have been spurred on by claims that the eucalyptus trees take too many nutrients, are useless for fodder, supply little firewood to the community, can lower water levels in nearby ponds, wells and woodlands and deposit sand in neighbouring fields by erosion. In effect, the trees have provided few of the benefits that the community woodlands displaced by the eucalyptus plantations have provided (Carrere & Lohmann, 1996). Thai villagers have demanded individual land rights, community rights to local forests and the right to veto commercial plantation schemes in their locality.
North-eastern villagers and their NGO allies have muted alternatives to eucalyptus including multi-purpose native trees which provide food, construction materials and medicines. They have launched native tree planting on degraded lands and designated new areas as community forest.
A recent study in Chile has shown that pine plantations are less attractive to tourists than areas of native forests (CODEFF, 1992 cited in Carrere and Lohmann, 1996). In this regard, if tourism takes off in Colombia, it is pertinent to ask, What will be the reaction of future tourists to Colombia to the pine and eucalyptus plantations being promoted by the Certificate of Incentive Forestry.
Plantation trees especially those with roots which extend several metres horizontally can compete with neighbouring crops for nutrients, water and sunlight. As a result, Uruguay has enacted laws requiring that the outermost line of trees in a plantation must be a certain distance from neighbouring land (Carrere & Lohmann, 1996).
SCC has caused a lot of controversy in Colombia since it started to buy up land for pine, cypress and eucalyptus plantations. SCC began to buy land in Risaralda in 1989-1990. They have land around Santa Rosa and Guatica. Local people have accused the company of damaging public roads. This was denied by the company who claimed that they maintain the roads.
In Risaralda Department, farms have been brought up to plant pine and eucalyptus. At meetings with campesinos and environmental groups in QuindÌo and Risaralda, comments were made with regard to SCC and pine and eucalyptus plantations:
Campesino: ‘Cattle ranches and arable land that once grew wheat and beans have been brought up (by SCC)'.
Even if the land was degraded pastureland, some campesinos and ecologically concerned individuals believe that improved livestock rearing techniques could reduce or reverse degradation. Unfortunately many landowners did not have the financial or technical help for these improvements at the time they were under pressure to sell their land to SCC. Although SCC currently has a policy of not purchasing land at the present time, we consider that this should be the permanent policy of SCC.
The campesinos were also concerned that forestry plantations provided less work than the farms that the forestry plantations displaced.
Campesino: ‘The plantations don't generate the same level of work as agricultural activities - the majority of the workers were subcontractors brought in from outside'.
Ladrach and Zobel (1986) calculate that forestry plantations employ over four times more people than a typical farm of 900 hectares with 1.3 animal units per hectare, producing a combination of meat and milk. However, Carrere and Lohmann (1996) maintain that there appear to be general agreement that forestry plantations cannot employ as many people as conventional agriculture particularly family farms. It is likely that each case should be considered on its merits, the number employed on a farm varying with the type of agriculture (arable, livestock, mixed) and the intensity of management. Further investigations in this area are required. Other comments made by the campesinos were:
Campesino: ‘There is pressure on landowners to sell their land'.
Campesino: ‘Smurfit started to buy land about 20 years ago in the high parts of the RÌo Consuba San Pablo watershed. They only brought up the larger farms from the bigger campesinos. There are now rumours that they want to buy out small farmers'.
Campesino: ‘The farming practices were lost so that all they can do now is extract timber'.
Campesino: ‘Smurfit came into the DariÈn and RÌo FrÌo areas displacing peasants from arable land in 1983-84. They also moved to Restrepo and then north up to Sevilla, Calarc·, Salento, Santa Rosa, Guatica and Riosucio. They bought up large farms affecting people attached to these farms; five or six people were displaced from each of these farms. They are finishing off the Andean peasant culture and the native forest by planting with pine and eucalyptus'.
Campesino: 'At La Selva Farm situated at 2550m, around 200 species have been displaced from the area'.
Colombian environmentalist:‘In the high parts of the RÌo QuindÌo watershed, natural forest occurs above 2,000 m. Under 2,000 m, the forest has been reduced to scattered fragments. Until about 20 years ago, the region was important for potato growing until pine began to appear. It is a 19,000-hectare watershed with 8,000 hectares of forest, 5500 hectares of fields, 12700 hectares of p·ramo and 2700 hectares of commercial plantations. The plantations have been planted in the middle of fields and native forest. We have lost the capacity for agricultural production, lost native vegetation, while people have been displaced from their land'.
Colombian environmentalist:‘The Cruz Gorda watershed around Salento has a population of 3500 people. Less than 30% of the area is natural vegetation. This is found largely at the higher elevations at 2600 m where the rare and threatened Spectacled Bear lives. Smaller forest fragments occur at lower altitudes. The water supply is regulated by wetlands; the largest being 2,000 m≤. The first part of the watershed that was brought up was 80 hectares at La Bolivia Farm. Today the area is very dry with some rivers and streams having dried up. Two years ago, two farms constituting 50% of the watershed were brought up. There has been soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. Rather than being planted on, the degraded pastureland could be improved by modifying the existing agricultural techniques'
Campesino: ‘In Risaralda there is a civic environmental monitoring body that was set up by an ordinance of the Departmental Assembly. This civil observation body is made up of representatives from the black and Indian populations and other NGOs. The law relating to civil monitoring is concerned with the defence of biodiversity and culture, altitudinal biodiversity and tropical Andean forest. Therefore the law is in direct conflict with pine plantations'.
Colombian Environmentalist: ‘The management plan for La Selva Farm recommended to cut the trees in chequer-board fashion but this was not done. Instead, their concept of chequer-board was one of clear-cutting'.
Although we were not able to inspect the environmental damage alleged above, in the Department of Riseralda, the similarity of the comments gives cause for concern there may be some truth in the allegation that at least some people have been adversely affected by the planting of pine and eucalyptus plantations. We call for an independent investigation of such claims.
Since at least the early 1980s, other Colombian environmental and development organisations have questioned the planting of pine and eucalyptus plantations on account of their potential effects on soil, flora, fauna and water supplies.
A letter dated August 26th, 1981 to Dr. Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, then president of Colombia from the Municipal Council of Salento outlined the problems associated with reforestation by the CRQ (the environmental agency for QuindÌo, Bavaria and SCC.
The Municipal Council denounced the indiscriminate buying of 28 farms totalling over 3,0000 hectares in QuindÌo. They were concerned with the sowing of seed on land of agricultural and cattle-rearing vocation that generates agricultural employment, and the leaching of nitrogen into water for human consumption with the resulting formation of cancer-forming nitrosamines. They argued that pine plantations do not guarantee the regulation and control of water flow as little vegetation grows under them thus increasing soil erosion through increased runoff. The CRQ wanted to overturn the findings of the Municipality of Salento with regard to commercial plantations but were ruled against by the Colombian legal authorities.
In September 1982, an open letter signed by a number of organisations in the municipality of Calima-DariÈn, Valle del Cauca was sent to the then President of Colombia (Dr Belisario Betancur). The signatories included the Municipal Committee of Coffee-growers, the Body of Voluntary Firefighters and Traders Associations. They outlined their concern at the advance of SCC in the area without evaluating future socio-economic consequences. They continue to say that they recognise the importance of industrial forestry and expansion in the country but are against its siting in areas with potential for the production of food and crops with a high capacity for employment generation (Broderick, 1998).
In 1983, at the first regional forum on the cultivation of pine in Calima-El DariÈn Valle del Cauca, Dr. Guillermo CastaÒa Arcila, president of the Ecological Council of the Western Central Region of Colombia, expressed the concerns of the ecological movement on the planting of pine.
On the 16th August 1990, La Patria, a daily newspaper with a regional circulation in the zona cafetera ran an article criticising pine for its effect on campesinos that have sold their land to big multinationals. The money obtained by the campesinos often has not been invested in other activities but has been but into banks or has simply been squandered (La Patria: 16 August, 1990). In September 1993, the newspaper El Tiempo reported how FundaciÛn EcÛlogica Cosmos sent a letter to the CRQ denouncing abusive ‘coniferisation'.
On August 27th 1997, the Municipality of Filandia, QuindÌo banned pine and eucalyptus in certain areas of the municipality; the very plantations that are so heavily subsidised by the Colombian taxpayer in the form of the Certificate of Incentive Forestry. Some argue that this money could be better spent at least in some areas on improving agricultural techniques thereby increasing the income of campesinos so that they would not be under pressure to sell their land.
The local government of Risaralda has asked the governor to stop all reforestation with pine and eucalyptus. The acting governor of Risaralda Department outlined what is going on in Risaralda with regard to its environmental activities and its concerns over the planting of forestry plantations:
Acting governor:‘ Environmental legislation is quite thin on the ground as the Ministry of the Environment was only set up two years ago. People are not very well informed. We are very conscious of the need to protect the environment.
This Department is rich in natural resources. The city of Pereira has 300 hectares of natural forest which are used as dumps by local people. Agriculture accounts for 30% of the GDP in Risaralda. We have 1 million hectares of coffee plantations. In the coffee zone of QuindÌo, Caldas and Risaralda, 15,000 hectares is planted with pine. When a small insect called Broca that burrows into the coffee bean attacked the coffee, the small landowners couldn't afford the pesticides needed to control it. Their land was brought by large landowners including forestry companies.
We thought that we would plant Juglans neotropica (a native tree species grown for its edible fruits, source of dye and construction wood) giving economic stability to our peasants. We feel that it is important to use biological control in pest management.
The Department of Risaralda has a project called Risaralda and the Forests for the World. We have carried out some modest environmental campaigns. We want to use these forests as corridors and botanical gardens that would be integrated into the city. We want to recycle and create links with existing institutions'.
We visited RÌo San Ramon situated at 2,000m altitude near Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risaralda Department to be told that in one case, SCC had closed off all the roads leading to two public and one private spring. According to the Colombian constitution, these springs constitute heritage. An appeal was made to allow access to these springs. The case was won, but to the best of our knowledge the appeal decision was not complied with.
According to Colombian environmentalists, the municipal body agreed to prohibit the planting of pine and eucalyptus until an environmental impact assessment was carried out. The mayor objected to this but his decision was over-ruled by the president of the municipal body. However it was once again not complied with.
A Deputy in the Departmental Assembly of Risaralda outlined his objections to the planting of pine and eucalyptus:
Deputy: ‘I am against the concentration of land in the hands of multinationals with huge investment budgets. The central government gives tax breaks to the forestry companies, as it wants to reforest Colombia. The budget of three of these companies amounts to 16,000 million pesos. We are looking for a ban on the planting of pine and eucalyptus in Risaralda Department. In the municipality of Salento, QuindÌo, they own 9.7% of all land. They have not purchased new land recently but have come to an arrangement with landowners whereby SCC (or its subsidiaries) plant up land while the landowner gets a certain percentage of the harvest. In general, the landowner can sell 25% of the timber'.
Local communities receive the most direct beneficial and detrimental impacts of commercial forestry plantations. A CONIF report on the socio-economic effects of commercial plantations is in preparation that should make interesting reading. We consider that community consultation over the planting of commercial tree plantations in their areas is very important. Attention to possible impacts on archaeological, cultural or spiritual sites at the local, national and global levels is paramount. Consideration must be given to the impacts of commercial plantations on the disruption of legal or customary land rights and patterns of land use, and reduction of cultural values.
Although local communities can raise objections to the establishment of a commercial plantation through the Regional Autonomous Corporations, there has been no formal community consultation mechanism established by SCC with regard to decisions relating to planting, managing and harvesting of commercial plantations. We recommend that such a consultation body be set up. The body would consist of community leaders, environmental non-governmental organisations and SCC staff. Local communities should have access to an easy information retrieval system on all current and future activities. The training of SCC staff in the importance of environmental protection, community consultation, conservation of archaeological, spiritual or cultural sites, the conservation of soil, biodiversity and genetic resources is paramount.
At the same time as arable and pastureland was being extensively planted by SCC and other forestry companies, 70% of Colombian food was being imported. We consider that at least some of the financial resources currently subsidising commercial plantations through the Certificate of Incentive Forestry that only benefits large forest companies should be directed towards supporting Colombian agriculture or social forestry that would reap benefits to a greater number of people.
With increased access to credit and technical assistance, the lands currently been planted with commercial plantations could have their agricultural vocation recuperated to prevent the migration of small farmers to the cities or villages. A good forestry policy cannot be divorced from agricultural policy nor economic policy in general (Broderick, 1998).
The concept of social forestry involves planting trees which are widely accepted by local communities and which reap multiple benefits for such communities such as provision of fodder, fuel wood, medicines, building materials, green manure and fruits. Both native and exotic species can be suited to social forestry if they are well adapted to the site, grow well and supply products that are needed by local people.
A range of different species may be needed at different times of the year to obtain the same product e.g. a range of different fire woods with different drying rates, sizes and burning qualities allows flexibility in use. In India and Nepal, farmers depend on a large number of different tree species lopped at different times to fulfil their livestock feed and bedding requirements (Hughes, 1988). Social forestry does not necessarily exclude the use of eucalyptus for live fences or fuelwood. Many inhabitants of the Andean valleys of Ecuador and Peru would regard Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian Blue Gum) as an integral part of the Andean landscape so complete has been its cultivation, spread and use.
A useful model of community participation might use the PACOFOR (Proyecto de Desarrollo de la Participacion Comunitaria en el Sector Forestal) project as a model. This is a joint initiative between four Regional Autonomous Corporations (CORPOCALDAS, CARDER, CRQ, CORTOLIMA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the Dutch government.
The PACOFOR project encourages men and women to work together to direct their physical, intellectual and emotional resources towards individual and community growth through the satisfaction of community needs identified by the communities themselves. It undertakes to identify, execute and evaluate forestry and agroforestry projects in order to protect, conserve and use natural resources in a sustainable fashion through the provision of live fences, mixed gardens and agroforestry and firewood plots.
It must be recognised that fibres to make paper products whether from wood, bagasse (from sugarcane), kenaf (an African plant) or seaweed will be needed for the foreseeable future, due to population growth and until such time as a global recycling ethic is well-accepted. Pine and eucalyptus should only be used to satisfy the needs of wood and firewood of the population of the municipalities, in situations where they do least social and environmental damage e.g. in flat sites or those of low inclination.
Where commercial plantations are established, local communities should share in the benefits of the forestry plantations, e.g. free firewood, inter-cropping between trees, share of the timber harvest.
Pine and eucalyptus plantations in unfavourable locations (hills or mountains that play a role in the infiltration of subterranean water, on very steep slopes and on relatively delicate soils) should be removed. In their place one could allow the expansion of native vegetation by natural regeneration. However when replacing pine and eucalyptus plantations from these locations on steep slopes, it is recommended to replace the plantations little by little to prevent massive soil erosion due to increased run-off on bare slopes.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.10 Environmental Management in Colombia
A number of functions are assigned to the 36 Regional Autonomous Corporations (Corporaciones AutÛnomas Regionales):
(Instituto Geografico Augustin Codazzi, 1998).
The 1991 Constitution mentions the planning and management of natural resources. In some instances, the new 1991 constitution has to be tested in the courts. Law 99 of 1993 also mentions sustainable development. This law tends to be strong in some areas but poorly enforced.
We visited the headquarters of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of QuindÌo (CRQ), the highest environmental body of QuindÌo Department.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.10.1 The Environmental Role of the Regional Autonomous Corporation of QuindÌo (CRQ)
Central government funding of the CRQ and all other departmental environmental protection agencies is very low. It is mainly funded by property taxes. The municipal authorities have the power to set and collect property tax that can vary between 1.5 and 2.5% of the value of the property. This is then passed on to the Regional Autonomous Corporations such as the CRQ.
The CRQ has a sub-director of natural resources, a secretary general of the corporation and a sub-director of environmental quality. It is the highest public entity charged with carrying out environmental policies and environmental administration within QuindÌo. It strives to embrace sustainable development in the region. Its area of jurisdiction takes in the twelve municipalities in QuindÌo.
The highest authority of the CRQ is the corporate assembly. The mayors of the 12 municipalities elect four from among themselves to sit on the corporate assembly. The governor of QuindÌo Department is the president of the executive council. The executive council elects the director general who can run for a second term. A representative of the president of the republic, a representative of the Ministry of the Environment, two representatives from an environmental NGO elected from amongst themselves, two representatives of the business associations and one representative from the indigenous communities also sit on the corporate assembly.
The NGO representatives in the Corporate Assembly are from La FundaciÛn Herencia Verde and FundaciÛn Verde Andina. The Indian representative is a member of the Emera ChamÌ people.
We had a meeting with the CRQ to discuss their policies on pine and eucalyptus plantations in QuindÌo. They maintained that they don't consider any plant exotic in nature and that pine and eucalyptus have adapted well to the Colombian environment. We consider that it is true that every plant has a natural range and so in this sense no plant is exotic. However using widely accepted definitions, pine and eucalyptus are exotic species in Colombia as they are being grown outside their natural range.
The CRQ can sanction groups for environmental violations by issuing fines. The person responsible is called to answer and then the corporation imposes a sanction, e.g. financial or they are asked to sow trees, normally native species. They can go further and issue penal proceedings. The violator of environmental laws can be fined 0-300 times the minimum salary. The fine depends on whether the violator had a previous conviction. The CRQ normally ask for damage to be repaired. In 1994-1995 there was a 500% increase in the number of environmental infractions. Out of 350-400 licences every year, 25-30 licensees commit infractions. For example a forestry company can be sanctioned for not leaving a margin not than 30 m on either side of permanent or temporary water bodies free of planted trees. This regulation has been the norm since 1986.
Many licences are given for the cultivation of guadua (Guadua angustifolia). Guadua is a type of bamboo which can reaches 25 m in height. It is considered to have a ‘thousand uses' ranging from stakes, waterpipes, housing, crafts and paper pulp. One of the problems with guadua is that its seeds have a low germination rate and so guadua is usually propagated asexually using sections of the stem, parts of its branches or rhizomes.
The CRQ only gives felling licences for dying trees. Three people assess licence applications while ten people are responsible for control and follow-up. The CRQ claims to monitor plantations from the time of planting right through to harvesting. Considering the size of QuindÌo, we consider the staffing levels at the CRQ inadequate to carry out its environmental protection role.
Since 1991, the CRQ has considered forestry plantations as a crop on an equal footing with agricultural and fishing. Under Decree 1753, 1994 an environmental licence is explicitly required. The licensing system has now been replaced by a register system. In order to register a plantation, a forestry company has to present to the registry a forest establishment and management plan. The forest establishment and management plan allows the CRQ or other Autonomous Regional Corporation to make a decision on whether to grant permission to establish a plantation. We asked to see some of these plans in order to evaluate their effectiveness in assessing the environmental impact of such plantations. The CRQ initially said that they would give us copies of some of the plans. These were however not sent. We had hoped to compare the content of such plans with what was expected in a typical environmental impact statement required for forestry developments in Europe under the European Union's Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment (EC EIA Directive 85/337/EEC).
The public can object to the establishment of a plantation. When a project is mooted, the town hall of the community in which the project is being carried out puts up a notice and also in the CRQ office informing the public of the project. The public has the right of petition and must reply within 10 days.
We asked what criteria are used to access the suitability of establishing a plantation in a particular area? The CRQ replied that in general the CRQ bases its policies on existing law. As afforestation constitutes the establishment of a crop, they impose certain measures, e.g. no planting must occur within 100 metres of the source of a river and within 30m on either side of the river. In addition, no harvesting is allowed within 30 m of a watercourse. However, they can plant within 30 m of a watercourse if the plantation is for protective purposes. The involvement of the CRQ not to mention CRQ employee Dr Jaramillo in the establishment of forestry plantations sometimes in conjunction with forestry companies that they themselves are charged with monitoring must be called into question. We call for a legal separation of the function of the CRQ in environmental monitoring and public entities involved in the establishment of forestry plantations.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.11 Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations
In studying the environmental impacts of pine and eucalyptus one must compare the pre-existing land-use before plantation establishment with the site after plantation establishment. For example one cannot compare soil erosion rates under native forest with those under forest plantations, if the site was previously under pasture.
The stage of plantation development and the end-use of the timber is also important in determining environmental impacts. Site preparation methods at the time of planting, the growth phase of the plantation (young, intermediate and mature stages) and harvesting activities can all determine what impacts the plantations have on soil, water and wildlife.
The species used is also important. For example, different species will allow varying amounts of light to reach the forest floor as a result of having different architectures manifested in varying amounts of spacing between the branches and the orientation of the needles or leaves in space. The different light regimes have an effect on forest understorey development. Pine and eucalyptus trees planted at wide spacings in agroforestry systems may have different impacts compared to closely spaced intensively managed monocultures of the same species.
As a result of the projected growth of commercial forestry in Colombia in the coming years, CONIF and the Ministry of the Environment with the help of the World Bank initiated the Programme for the Evaluation of the Environmental Impact of Commercial Forestry Plantations in Colombia (PIAF). The programme was designed to examine in a systematic manner the possible environmental impacts of commercial forestry plantations, to homogenise concepts of measurement, and to provide territorial entities with parameters that will help in the issuing of environmental licences.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.12. Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus on Colombian Biodiversity
1.12.1 Destruction of Native Forest
Population growth has contributed to the invasion of colonists in some areas that ought to be protected, accelerating the processes of deforestation, expanding the agricultural frontier in the Colombian Andes and contributing to the deterioration of natural resources such as biodiversity. The major threats to biodiversity are considered to be cattle ranching, logging and cocoa growing which have caused extensive soil degradation and loss of habitat.
There is an urgent need to provide economic incentives to encourage sustainable forest management. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (http://www.wcmc.org.uk), the Western and Central Andes of Colombia and Ecuador are centres of restricted range birds and plant diversity and are therefore considered critical priority areas for conservation.
Currently, 17% of Colombia's territory lies within its protected area network (global average 5%; South American average 9.8%) with 6% being strictly protected, i.e. protected from any direct physical disturbance but national investment and staffing in protected areas are less than the global average
The number of species in the major plant and animal groups in Colombia are as follows [number of species unique to Colombia (endemic species) are given in brackets]: 260 mammals (29), 1721 birds (62), reptiles 585 (110), amphibians 591 (214), higher plants 5,0000 (1500).
Some threatened plants and animals are located in the general area where SCC has its plantations. The endangered endemic Grallaria alleni (Moustaced Antpitta) is a bird of the undergrowth of the Very Humid Montane Forest lifezone of Holdridge (1967). There are only two records of this species. The type specimen was recorded from the western slopes of the Central Andes above Salento, QuindÌo Department at 2,100 m.
Endangered endemic plants include the Andean wax palms Ceroxylon spp. including C. alpinum and C. mooreanum that are rarely found below 1800m and often growing above the limits of other arborescent vegetation.
Endangered birds include Ognorhynchus icterotis (Yellow-eared parrot) found in mountain forest and partially cleared terrain where there are wax palms (Ceroxylon andiculum) mostly between 2,000 and 3400m. It was formerly widely scattered in all three Andean ranges but was mainly found in the Central Andes. The most recent records date from the seventies (Hilty and Brown, 1986).
Colombia participates in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP), an international strategy for maximising the contribution of forestry sectors to national economic and social development while maintaining conservation principles. In 1989, the National Planning Department presented a Forest Action Plan which interpreted the global Tropical Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) to suit Colombia's distinct biological characteristics and objectives. Seventy projects were set up to develop, protect and improve forested areas including four in protected areas.
Some of the plant and animal species found in the three Cordilleras that cross Colombia are found in all three cordilleras. However, each cordillera has a high number of unique species. Colombian native species support a wider range of species than exotic species because they have adapted themselves to these native species by evolutionary processes over millions of years. Many native species have not been evaluated for their potential use in agroforestry systems or in commercial plantations. Up to 1986, SCC had evaluated 110 native species and 99 exotic species for their growth characteristics. On the Coastal Pacific, native species were found to be superior to any exotic species tried. On the Atlantic Coast, Ceiba Roja (Bombacopsis quinata) produced wood of good quality in forestry plantations and has been used as one of the principal species in reforestation (Ladrach and Zobel, 1986).
Many native species have to be evaluated outside the plantation setting for their use in agroforestry systems. There is an urgent need to evaluate more native tree and shrub species suitable for the middle elevations of the Colombian Andes so as to diversify production away from the use of pine and eucalyptus.
The development of innovative forest processing technologies in the late seventies has enabled tropical hardwoods to be pulped in a single mixture to the detriment of species-rich temperate and tropical hardwoods. In addition, at least 15% of all tropical plantations world-wide have been established at the cost of natural closed forests (in Carrere & Lohmann, 1996). Native hardwoods have been or are due to be used as the raw material for pulp in Papua New Guinea, Cameroon, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Chile (Carrere & Lohmann, 1996).
The Colombian Ministry of the Environment puts deforestation rates at 15,0000 hectares per year with only 10,000 hectares replanted. SCC claim to protect the largest amount of natural forest in Colombia of any private landowner (18,000 hectares). However under Colombian environmental law enforced by the Regional Autonomous Corporations, these areas often have to be protected as a matter of course where forests form part of a watershed which supplies drinking water to urban populations.
In addition SCC claim that they would not clear native forest to establish plantations as it is too expensive to clear compared to the clearing of relatively cheap pastureland. This seems to imply that if native forest was not expensive to clear then they would clear it, thus calling into question whether SCC are protecting the native forest on their land as a result of a nature conservation ethic.
At a meeting in Salento with local communities, concern was expressed at the displacement of native vegetation in the past by pine and eucalyptus plantations.
Campesino: ‘Most of the land was pasture but they encroached into native forest. We are worried about the fact that Carton de Colombia (prior to its acquisition by Jefferson Smurfit) finished off the native forests in Cauca Department in the area of Sierra Blanca where they chopped down the native forests for pulp.
Campesino: ‘In among the plantations are native trees in danger of extinction. When it comes to blanket cutting the plantations, the native trees are cut as well and thus the plantations encroach even further into the native forest'. In this way the changes are very subtle and not noticeable. The areas of native vegetation cut vary from 1,000 m≤ to individual trees. Native vegetation beside the plantation is also lost in this way. When roads are opened, they drive them through native vegetation namely mature native secondary forest'.
We examined a site in QuindÌo at 2,000 m that had four-year-old E. grandis that was being managed as a coppice. The system involves allowing the growth of sprouts from the cut tree stump. After two months, the sprouts are reduced to between two and three stems and then after a further 6-8 months, the best stem is selected to grow on into a full-sized tree after a further 6-8 months. It is not known however how many rotations of Eucalyptus grandis one can obtain under this system before the coppice system starts to decline.
Stumps of native species were observed in amongst the stumps of the eucalyptus at the coppice site. Isolated trees were observed in the pasture in the hills surrounding the plantation. In this instance, it is hard to determine whether the trees observed in the plantation were present in the pasture before the eucalyptus was planted or whether it formed part of a natural forest on the same site that had been cleared by SCC.
We were shown around Sonora Farm, QuindÌo Department. The land comprising Sonora Farm, QuindÌo in the Cordillera Central was originally pasture land which was brought by the Colombian company Bavaria who sold the land to SCC in 1986. Pinus patula and P. tecumani were planted on this farm. The average distance between the trees was 2.8m planted at a density of 1275 trees per hectare.
There was a 20-hectare area of native vegetation beside the river consisting of members of such plant families as Bromeliaceae, Melastomataceae, Guttiferae and Cyclanthaceae. SCC claim that this native vegetation is spreading into the plantation area so as to demonstrate how SCC is protecting native vegetation. But even if this is true, when the trees are harvested, then this regrowth will be adversely affected by the logging operations. However one could equally argue that the trees have been planted within the native vegetation. In addition, one could argue that native vegetation must be retained as a matter of course under regulations regarding planting near watercourses administered by the Regional Autonomous Corporation of QuindÌo.
In the vicinity of Vereda El Castillo, Municipality of Calarc·, members of the Association of Graduates of the University of QuindÌo (Asociacion de Egresados en Biologia de la Universidad del QuindÌo) together with internationally respected botanist Cristina Velez, found the remains of native vegetation throughout which eucalyptus had been planted by Reforestadora Andina (subsidiary of SCC).
The fallen trunks and shoots of several plant species (see Appendix) of native forest were noted by the graduate students including Heliocarpus, Weinmannia, Cecropia, Quercus humboldti as well as a number of epiphytic orchids and bromeliads (Graduate Students of the University of QuindÌo, November 1993).
Heliocarpus popayanensis is a species that develops well in humid soils along the banks of rivers or water sources. Weinmannia pubescens grows between 1,600-2,800 m with average temperatures of 12-18∞C and a precipitation of 1,200-2,000 mm. It is a species that protects the banks of rivers and streams against erosion. Its wood is utilised for the manufacture of , beams, columns and posts. The bark produces tannins with which one can tan leather a reddish colour.
Quercus humboldtii grows between 1,600-2,300 m, with average temperatures of 14-18∞C and precipitation of 1,000-2,000mm. It develops well in well-drained sandy acid soils. It produces a fine, hard and heavy wood used for cabinets, fence posts and also for firewood. Like
Weinmannia pubescens, it stabilises riverbanks thus preventing soil erosion. Its bark provides tannin for dyeing hides (Tokura et. al., 1996).
Species of Cecropia are typical of forest light gaps. They are pioneer species that cover light gaps in forest and abandoned pastures playing a vital role in protecting the banks of streams and rivers. Cecropia fruits and seeds are eaten by birds and mammals (Tokura et. al., 1996). Cecropias are found from sea level up to the sub-p·ramos in dry and humid areas. The respected Colombian botanist Cristina Velez confirmed that many of these plants are components of primary forest. After environmentalists accused SCC of the destruction of native vegetation, SCC sued for libel on two separate occasions but the company lost their case twice.
At La Palmira Alta, SCC does not deny clearing disturbed primary forest to construct a road to facilitate timber harvesting. We recorded the following native species in this area including the tree fern Cyathea, Browalia and a member of the family Commelinaceae. However we consider the clearing of any relatively undisturbed primary forest unacceptable due to the rapid logging of native forests in Colombia as a whole and argue that the road could have been re-routed through the use of such planning tools as a Geographical Information System (GIS), the road could have been rerouted away from the native vegetation.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.12.2 Biodiversity in Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations
Commercial forestry plantations have often been accused of being essentially sterile environments for wildlife for a number of reasons:
In general, the species that colonise forest plantations are often widespread pioneer species. The plantations tend to lack the rare species with specialist requirements. In any case, the few species that do manage to adapt to plantations are often disturbed at the time of harvest. Any plants which have managed to colonise the plantation from transported seed or from the seed bank in the soil may not survive or at least may be disturbed as a result of the changed light regime in the clear-cut or due to soil disturbance by horses. Horses and wheeled vehicles may spread exotic invasive plants that outcompete the native flora into the plantation. The preparation of the ground prior to planting can limit the frequency of plants that can survive on the plantation site. The progressive reduction of species with increasing tree growth could be due to light reduction, competition between the trees and the native plants for soil nutrients, allelopathic effects and accumulation of needles that impede the germination of seeds.
In general, the more simplified the forest ecosystem becomes the less biodiversity will be present. The different growth phases of a plantation and how they are managed will favour or disfavour different species of flora and fauna. Species of bird that prefer open habitats disappear as the plantation develops. However, as plantations grow the community of birds changes.
The existence of relicts of natural forest will result in many animals visiting the adjoining plantations but nevertheless they may not permanently reside there if their needs for nestsites, food, shelter and water are not met.
On sites that we visited in the second week of the visit, a very impoverished flora under pine (Pinus patula) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus grandis) owned by Agroforestal Naya at La Paila, Cauca Department (1900 m altitude) was observed. Agroforestal Naya brought 1600 hectares at La Paila spread over three farms from SCC in 1991 and an additional 115 hectares from neighbouring landowners. Some of this land is the subject of a dispute with the Paez Indians. Agroforestal Naya have 950 hectares are natural forest, 200 hectares are commercial plantations for harvesting, 500 hectares of young commercial plantations which they have planted and 150 hectares have been set aside for crops and roads. Although Agroforestal Naya own the land, Pulpapel (subsidiary of SCC) owns the pine subject to the terms and conditions of the joint venture agreement between SCC and Agroforestal Naya.
Under the 3-year-old eucalyptus at La Paila owned by Agroforestal Naya, we observed a sparse vegetation cover consisting of the widespread fern Pteridium aquilinum and plants with the common names Chilca and Salvia. The sparse vegetation is a result of herbicides that according to the Paez Indians are applied every 6 months, although the Paez claimed that herbicide was not applied in 1997.
Weeding during any stage of plantation development can reduce the biodiversity that can manage to survive within the plantation. SCC claim to only spray some weeds. However on some sites a scorched earth policy is practised mainly on flatter sites. This policy essentially eliminates the majority of plants that have colonised the soil whether they are the grassland species of degraded pastures or plants that have colonised a plantation prior to harvesting. However the control of weeds does not always mean a decrease in biodiversity, e.g. if the controlled weeds are dominant, their reduction can result in an increase in biodiversity.
We also visited a 4-year-old stand of Pinus patula at La Paila. At this site the lower branches had been pruned to help tree growth. The branches were left on the ground to decompose to add nutrients to the soil and reduce soil erosion. However no plants except a few fungi were observed under this plantation probably due to the exclusion of light from the soil surface by the blanketing effect of the large pruned branches.
We visited one plantation that was being managed for timber production. In such an instance, pioneer species would have been given a relatively long time to colonise occupying light gaps formed by natural tree fall. An example of this was seen when we were brought to a very mature Cupressus lusitanica (Cedar of Goa) plantation that had a good under-storey cover.
These plantations cannot be considered representative of the majority of SCC plantations grown for pulpwood which are harvested after 7 years in the case of Eucalyptus grandis and after 15 years in the case of Pinus patula.
At Guatemala Farm, we saw eight-year-old Pinus maximoi with nothing growing under the trees as a result of canopy closure taking place after three or four years. At this farm, forty percent of the trees were due to be removed in 1999 and after 15-17 years, the pines will be harvested. The thinning operation at Guatemala Farm this year will allow more light to reach the forest floor and thus one might expect some plants to colonise under the increased light conditions although these are likely to be widespread common species.
At Cucarronero Farm, (at an altitude of 2,618 m) in the Cordillera Central, near Calarc·, we observed a 17-year-old Pinus patula plantation. We counted only six flowering plants and two ferns under the plantation although there was a good overall under-storey cover with little bare ground.
A number of studies have been carried out on the impact of commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus on flora and fauna.
Around the reservoir of La Fe, BerrÌo (1987, cited in CONIF, 1998b), found that an 8-year-old Pinus patula plantation had developed a dense understorey of shrubs and trees. Some of the trees and shrubs, e.g. Vaccinium sp. and Myrica pubescens had fruits which are fed on by birds that act as dispersers of the seeds of other plant species.
Cavelier (1993b cited in CONIF, 1998b) compared vegetation composition under 20-year-old Pinus patula and Cupressus lusitanica with a native forest. Regeneration was found to be more vigorous under the pine than under cypress probably as a result of a more open under-storey.
MarÌn and Monsalve (1994) compared the composition and structure of the vegetation below a plantation of 12-year-old Pinus oocarpa with a pasture that had been used for cattle-rearing for 80 years. They found 38 species in the pasture and 67 species in the plantation. Of the total number of species only 3 were found in both types of cover demonstrating the need to conserve some areas of pasture within the plantation zone to maximise species diversity. Fifty-nine species were found in the forest understorey and 26 in the sub-canopy with 19 species common to the two strata. This demonstrated that most of the diversity in the plantation consisted of herbaceous plants or plants of low stature.
Bracken, an abundant pioneer species on acid soils (pH 5-6.0) is controlled prior to planting and during the initial years of establishment by whipping. Once the trees establish, the trees themselves control the bracken by shading it out. It must be acknowledged however that although SCC claim to plant only on such land as degraded bracken-covered pastures, it does not mean that these pastures are completely devoid of wildlife. For example according to Hilty and Brown (1986) bracken brakes bordering cloud forest between 1600-3,000 m can harbour some bird species such as Azara's Spinetail (Synallaxis azarae) a bird that is found throughout all three cordilleras.
Other birds such as some of the Plovers (Family Charadriidae) actually nest in the pasture grasses. Although some of these birds may at present be very common and widespread due to the large areas of suitable habitat available, they may start to decline if these pastures are extensively planted on in the future, in the same way that the feeding areas of Greenland white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons flavirostris) have been reduced by the afforestation of open blanket bog habitat in western Ireland.
Some plant species may be found exclusively in the pastureland while others may only be found in the plantation thus in any area patches of pastureland should be left unplanted to conserve the unique grassland communities. Some types of pasture may have a higher conservation value than others depending on their species composition that is a function of past management. These areas should be identified prior to planting and protected.
Studies such as the one of MarÌn and Monsalve (1994), may suffer from a common limitation. A certain percentage of the plants may not be identified as they are new to science or because they were not in flower which often makes identification much more difficult if not impossible.
Studies on vertebrates in Colombian plantations are scarce or very old and refer principally to birds associated with conifers. Ruiz (1994, cited in CONIF (1998b) showed that the common squirrel (Sciurus granatensis) had adapted to plantations of P. maximinoi, P. oocarpa and P. kesiya feeding on their cones or constructing their nests in the tree branches.
VÈlez et al. (1995, cited in CONIF (1998b) observed forty bird species in plantations of P. patula in western Antioquia the majority of them totally or partially insect-eaters. These would be important in controlling possible pests of the trees in the plantations. They also found that the diversity and abundance of avifauna was greater in the plantations with lower basal areas due to the greater availability of light facilitating better understorey development.
Hjarsen (1997a, cited in CONIF, 1998b) found an average of 6.2 species and 14.8 individuals (in plots of 3 hectares) in plantations of E. globulus in the Bolivian Andes (3,000-4,000 m) while in the native forest he found on average 20.4 species and 65 individuals. Hjarsen (1997b, cited in CONIF, 1998b) did not find threatened or endemic species in the plantations. He also found that species that feed on insects; nectar and fruit were less abundant.
Studies on the effects of eucalyptus groves in Uruguay on birds have found that older, wider-spaced eucalyptus allowed good development of undergrowth and therefore attracted a surprising number of birds. In addition nectar-feeders, e.g. hummingbirds and tanagers had expanded their range to feed on eucalyptus flowers while numerous species used the eucalyptus for nest sites. This may be because there are no endemic bird species in Uruguay, i.e. most species are by nature widespread species and quite adaptable (Dr. Jane A. Lyons de Perez, pers. comm., 25 August 1998). This contrasts with Andean countries such as Colombia and Ecuador that have a number of Andean endemic species.
Pine groves are considered not to be as attractive to birds as those of eucalyptus due to its structure which precludes the provision of nesting sites and the fact that few species feed on the seeds in the cones. However pine plantations may be made more attractive to birds if the spacing between the trees is increased in order to allow more light to reach the forest floor thus increasing the growth of bird-friendly native plant species. Another way to improve pine plantations for bird species was to improve vegetation structure by mixed species stands (Dr. Jane A. Lyons de Perez, personal communication, 25 August 1998).
The most recent study on the flora and fauna of pine and eucalyptus plantations was carried out by CONIF under the Programme of Protection Forestry (CONIF, 1998b). It involved four SCC farms, each containing young, intermediate and mature forest plots and non-forested abandoned pastures in the early stage of succession to weedy thickets.
The different covers in each farm were chosen for their similarity with regard to geomorphology, slope, and nearness to watercourses and patches of native vegetation of uniform magnitude. All plants were identified as far as possible.
On one of the farms, the number of families and species of plants was greater in the abandoned pasture than in the Pinus patula plantations of all ages. The low diversity in the pine plantation on this farm irrespective of age was due to the cleaning of weeds as part of normal management operations. In contrast on another farm, also with Pinus patula the greatest number of plant families and species were found in the mature plantations. The high diversity of species found in the mature pine plantation may be due to the difference in the intensity of control of weeds and indeed the type of control (chemical, mechanical, biological, integrated).
On one farm with eucalyptus, the abandoned pasture had the highest diversity of species compared to all the eucalyptus plantations of all ages. The mature eucalyptus had the lowest diversity perhaps due to the dominance of a limited number of species. On another farm with eucalyptus, the highest diversity was found in the eucalyptus of intermediate age. As with the other farm with eucalyptus, the plantations of mature eucalyptus had the lowest diversity again indicating that some plant populations are dominating the under-storey thus reducing overall diversity.
The results showed that the floristic composition of each farm can be affected by a series of conditions such as local climate, the previous use of the land and the weed control practices in the plantations.
The plantations of P. patula at one farm had a greater number of species than another due to local and regional dissimilarities in the composition of the flora at each site as well as climatic and altitude variations and the history of use of the vegetation in each region. It demonstrates that each farm should be considered on its merits when examining the impact of commercial plantations on biodiversity.
In overall terms, the diversity of the eucalyptus plots was better than those determined in the pine farms. Thus first indications are that eucalyptus plantations permit a better development of vegetation of the under-storey than conifers but further studies are required. It is also apparent that there are differences in the abundance of some families in the forestry plants and in the thickets and that such differences are greater in the eucalyptus plantations than in the pines.
It was shown that the forests of P. patula inhibit the growth of herbaceous plants to some degree. This is probably due to the greater shade cast by forests of conifers than under eucalyptus but this has to be tested by varying the spacing of the pine to see the effects that this generates on the growth of herbaceous plants.
The overall diversity in the abandoned pasture will depend on the stage of succession in the same while for the plantations it will depend on the weed-control practices in the plantation. The vegetation of the under-storey in all the eucalyptus plantations on one of the farms was very similar regardless of plantation age. However, the vegetation plots of the abandoned pastures were shown to differ. Again this is further evidence that SCC should not assume that all pastures have an equal conservation value. It shows that all pasture sites should be assessed for their species composition prior to planting in order to maximise the conservation of biodiversity on their land.
The number of species of fauna found on all four farms was 107. Most of the species recorded were birds as they are able to colonise all types of environments whereas the other groups (mammals, reptiles and amphibians) need more exacting conditions in order to survive.
The birds may be using the plantations as corridors to pass from one area to another oor may be feeding on flowering species adjacent to the plantations.
The bats were the second most abundant group and these may also be using the forests as migration corridors. The presence of an under-storey at different stages of development in the studied area allows the availability of a wide range of different foods resulting in a larger number of different species adapted to feeding on the same.
The fauna in the SCC pine plantations showed some trends. The majority of non-flying mammals were found in the plantations as opposed to the abandoned pasture possibly because the forests offer better conditions of refuge. Some mammals such as rabbits (Silvilagus cf. Brasiliensis) and nectar-feeding bats preferred the clearings possibly because their food was more available in such areas. Some mammals may be permanent visitors while others only visit on a temporary basis. The White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) found at one pine plantation site is listed on Annex II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as it is in danger of extinction.
Forty-five species of birds were found in the period August-September 1997: 19 in the plantations and 31 in the open pasture areas. Five species were common to both forest and open pasture areas. In the rainy period (October-November 1997) 41 species were found: 18 in the plantations, 28 in the pastures and five species common to both.
In the plantations, insect-, fruit- and nectar-eaters predominated while in the pastures nectar- and insect-eaters predominated. Fruiting trees and shrubs (Miconia, Ochroma, Rubus, Verbesina) in the understorey of the plantation were considered to be responsible for attracting greater numbers of fruit-eaters into the plantations. In the scrubby open areas, birds which consume nectar and insects appeared to have better feeding conditions through a better availability of light and because the more open the area, the easier it is to catch insects. The open pasture areas were also more favourable to raptors that require good visibility in order to catch their prey.
As for the pines, the bats or flying mammals were more abundant and diverse in the two farms with eucalyptus plantations. Fruit-eating bats were captured in the E. grandis plantations. Only one (Uroderma bilobatum was exclusive to the forest plots. Squirrels were absent as they could find little food in the eucalyptus. This is in contrast to the pines which provide a source of cones for the squirrels. Omnivores such as rabbits, armadillos and field mice that can use all the resources of the under-storey were also found. In the first sampling period, 29 species of bird were found: 7 in the plantations and 22 in the open pastures with scrub. In the second sampling period, 37 species were found of which 12 pertained to the plantations and 29 to the open areas with 4 species common to both types of vegetation cover.
Thus there were fewer species in the eucalyptus compared to pine perhaps due to the greater age of the pine plantations giving a longer time for colonisation and the development of an under-storey. In addition the large areas of forest in the areas of the farms with pine plantations serving as centres of refuge for the fauna would facilitate their ability to colonise the pine plantations. The under-storey of the eucalyptus provided food to fruit and nectar-feeders while on the pastures with scrub, insect-eaters predominated with some fruit-, nectar-, and seed-eaters. Raptors were also found in the open areas as they require good visibility to locate their prey.
We have examined the numbers of species in the different vegetation covers. The next question to ask is how similar were the species between vegetation covers? Statistical analysis showed that there was no significant differences between the relative abundance of the birds and mammals between farms.
Multivariate analysis deduced that the fauna present in the abandoned pasture, and in the plantations of intermediate and mature age had a species composition that varied with the habitat conditions e.g. the availability of different resources depending on the age of the trees. The fauna in the pine and eucalyptus at an equal stage of development had some similarities.
The fauna formed various groupings. Some species were found in the mature pine and eucalyptus plantations, some in the thickets of pine and others in the thickets of pine and eucalyptus, in the thickets of eucalyptus only and species that frequent the thickets of pine and the young plantations. This demonstrates that in order to conserve maximum faunal diversity, SCC aim for plantations of mixed ages in a particular area and should conserve samples of the abandoned pasture with its encroaching scrub.
In spite of the above findings, CONIF (1998b) did not consider the impacts on the fauna and flora of site preparation, fertilisation of the trees and timber harvesting. This will be the subject of a later report. However it must be asked why were these issues not examined prior to allowing the large-scale afforestation of Colombia with exotic species?
We can expect certain impacts on the fauna and flora of such activities. Cleaning of the site of existing vegetation prior to planting removes habitat for some animals especially reptiles, amphibians and birds. Weeding throughout the life of the plantation reduces habitat for amphibians and reptiles and also frightens the fauna through noise. Creepers are especially not tolerated due to the problems that they can cause to the trees.
Pruning and thinning the pine plantations allow in more light into the plantation thus increasing the diversity and structure of the vegetation. In the CONIF report, the Eucalyptus was not thinned or pruned. However eucalyptus, can prune itself by natural branch loss. This has a similar effect in allowing light to reach the forest floor as the artificial pruning of pine.
Cleaning vegetation as a fire-control method can temporarily affect the habitat of the fauna. However this is a trade-off in that if such fires were to break out they may affect the wooded habitat where these animals permanently reside and feed.
The clear cutting of pine and eucalyptus destroys all the existing vegetation and the wooded ecosystem where many animals are to be found. The transport of the wood along the logging roads can damage the herbaceous and shrub vegetation but can also frighten the fauna through the generation of noise thus reducing mating success.
The forest operatives whether employed directly by a forest company or the subcontractors hired by the same company may impact directly on the fauna through the hunting of such animals as birds and armadillos.
In conclusion, the results of the CONIF report relate to the local conditions of the sites where the studies were carried out that may not necessarily be applicable to other species grown under different conditions in other plantation areas owned by SCC or other Colombian forestry companies.
We call on SCC to carry out or fund more research on how to maximise species diversity within plantations including:
All protected areas should be linked by biological corridors through the widest altitudinal range to enable migration of species between one area and another in the event of fire.
The Regional Conservation Data Centre within the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle del Cauca should be consulted to determine the status of particular plant and animal species. This Centre is compiling and processing information on the biology and distribution of endangered plant and animal species enabling conservation programmes to be formulated at the species or regional levels [World Conservation Monitoring Centre Website (http: //www.wcmc.org.uk, 8/27/98)].
Colombian nature conservation organisations, the Ministry of the Environment and the Regional Corporations should be consulted to produce a master plan for all plantations involving the feasibility of linking natural forest areas by wildlife corridors and paying attention to the special needs of rare or threatened species. Local people may be an important source of knowledge with regards to the location of rare species. Trees of native species important for wildlife and that provide multiple benefits to the communities should be planted.
A programme of environmental education should be set up in all plantation areas to counteract negative impacts on wildlife through hunting, fishing, firewood extraction and the accidental or intentional burning of the vegetation. This should target all SCC staff and subcontractors, local communities and schools.
Only damaging weeds should be controlled and the remainder left untouched. The well-developed under-storey that offers food and refuge for animal species that develops in some plantations should be conserved as much as possible.
A number of other authors have suggested ways of increasing biodiversity in plantations. We call on SCC to follow these recommendations. These include
constructing artificial nests through the plantations and the sowing of fruiting species to improve habitat conditions for the fruit-eating fauna (cited in Lima, 1996).
CONIF (1998b) recommend the following to maximise biodiversity within forestry plantations:
Borrero (1978) in a Carton de Colombia report compared the fauna of an area with reforestation and another without reforestation with pines in the Venta de Cajibio, Cauca.
The area had been progressively deforested in the past resulting in a reduced abundance and diversity of the original fauna (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians).
The habitats in the area of study were:
Borrero (1978) contended that only some species visit pine forests and in the majority of these cases probably only accidentally as they move between remnants of more favourable habitats.
However with maturation of the trees, seed production and the growth of an under-storey this species diversity would improve but not to any great extent.
The species encouraged into plantations were likely to be the more adaptable species and not the rarer species of primary undisturbed forest. In the fern-covered pastures, the number of species encountered was very low.
Borrero (1978) recommended the following to improve plantations for biodiversity:
1.12.3 The Wetlands on SCC Land
We visited La Sierra Farm at an altitude of 2640m. On this farm was a wetland containing a stand of Soft Rush (Juncus effusus). We observed pine planted between four and five metres from the centre of the wetland. This is a breach of CRQ regulations that stipulate that 30 m should be left between the centre of wetlands and tree plantings. SCC claim to have only planted 30 m from the centre of the watercourse on this land. They claim that the rules of the company state that they would not plant up wetlands and that they planted the Pinus patula between 10-12 m from the boundary of the fence. They maintain that if Pinus patula is planted any closer to the wetland, they would eventually die as Pinus patula requires a well-drained soil. Nevertheless, we have photographic evidence of this breach of CRQ regulations.
SCC claim to have fenced off all the wetlands on all their landholdings to protect them. However this has to be done as a matter of course under Colombian environmental law. In addition, the fencing off of wetlands may not necessarily be a good thing in that the complete absence of grazing pressure, rank vegetation may colonise the wetland reducing the areas of open water in the long-term where specialist plants occur. Therefore these areas must be continually monitored to ensure that no adverse changes are occurring with regards to their floral composition with each wetland being considered on its merits.
We visited AlegrÌas Farm at an altitude of 2600-2700 m. SCC purchased this farm in 1996. The land had been in pasture for the last 80 years and had approximately 24 hectares of wetlands. According to SCC, only one out of the 11 wetlands were fenced off at the time of purchase. At the time of the visit, recently planted Pinus patula and 17-year-old Pinus patula that was being grown for timber was observed.
SCC claim to have fenced off all the wetlands to protect them from the 280 head of cattle that were grazing over 25 different pastures on the farm. The cattle were entering the wetland areas to drink thereby degrading them by poaching. SCC was asked to sell the wetland areas so that they could be protected. They declined to sell on the basis that they thought that the wetlands were better protected under their ownership.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.12.4 Conservation of Old Crop Varieties
FAO (1977) consider the loss of genetic resources, accelerated soil erosion by wind and water, loss of soil fertility through leaching and depletion of nutrients and lowered humus content to substantially impair agricultural productivity and development.
Before any plantation or agroforestry project is implemented, old varieties of crop plants should be identified and stored in a gene/seed bank. Organisations such as the International Potato Centre, Lima should be consulted to determine the best methods of conserving these varieties in situ or ex situ. SCC in their involvement with various reforestation projects in areas of arable land have failed to ensure that there is no loss of valuable crop varieties of future use in breeding new high yielding or pest resistant varietiesby initiating such an agricultural crop variety conservation programme.LIST OF CONTENTS
1.12.5 Forest Fires on SCC Land and Their Effects on Biodiversity
In Colombia, 96% of forest fires are directly or indirectly caused by human activities such as uncontrolled fires and abandoned bonfires, cigarette ends, use of fire to facilitate hunting or through pyromania (PACOFOR, Technical Series 12, undated).
An annual fire report produced by SCC showed that the number of fires and thus the number of hectares affected has substantially increased between 1978-1997. However, the number of hectares lost has actually decreased from an all-time high in 1986. SCC consider the overwhelming cause of the majority of fires to be caused by pyromania (>70%) followed by uncontrolled fires on neighbouring land and negligence. The cause of many of the fires was unknown. Other fires were due to accidents, imprudence, carboneros (charcoal-makers) and bonfires.
SCC outlined to us how they tackle fires. SCC claim that they have within each zone equipment stored in a box which is used by a minimum of eight people. A bulldozer is on standby to prevent the spread of fire by constructing firebreaks. They also use water pressure tanks, axes, chainsaws, hoe, shovels and also local tools, e.g. machetes. Personnel wear boots, clothing, helmets, canteens and gloves. The lack of easy access to water and wind turbulence prevents the use of planes in their fire-fighting efforts. During the driest months they operate a 24-hour watch over the plantations in case of fire.
The forest workers have received training from the fire brigade based in the Yumbo pulp mill. SCC personnel can tackle fires of not more than 5 or 6 hectares. To prevent fires, they educate the workers and campesinos on neighbouring farms in fire prevention. SCC has a series of fire towers with highly trained people equipped with radios and binoculars. SCC claim that the assistance of the fire brigades in the municipalities is important but they sometimes arrive late.
The Ministry of the Environment has asked the help of SCC in developing the fire-fighting capabilities of other entities. Some SCC staff went to other countries, e.g. USA, Chile and Spain to share their experiences in fire-fighting.
In Calarc·, SCC has assisted the Fire Department with training, running a course for all fire services in QuindÌo Department in July 1998 contradicting the claims of the Fire Department that they have asked SCC to send their staff to Calarc· to train.
There were 42 fires in 1998 on SCC land affecting 36.51 hectares. These mainly affected pine plantations; a smaller amount of harvested areas and eucalyptus being affected. One fire affected 0.5 hectares of natural forest on Maruja Farm, Cumbre, Valle del Cauca on January 28th 1998 (Source: SCC Forest Division Fires Report, 1998).
SCC has been prosecuted twice for allowing fires in two separate locations to burn out of control and destroy the last remnants of primary forest that remain at these altitudes. Decree 1608, 1978, Chapter ii (General Prohibitions) with regard to wildlife protection, states in Article 220: "it is prohibited to destroy or allow nests, dens, burrows, caves, eggs of animals or wildlife or the places that serve as their habitats to deteriorate." It also prohibits bringing about the quantitative or qualitative diminution of wildlife.
In 1993, there was a fire at El Castillo (2170 m), in the high parts of Veredas ‘Cana·n and ‘La Palmira' in QuindÌo Department. A spark from residues that were being burnt in piles affected 1,000 m≤ of native forest and 10 hectares of plantation. The fire brigade came up from Calarc· to investigate when they saw the smoke from the fire.
The sanction imposed obliged SCC to plant 3 hectares of native forest. SCC planted 3,000 seedlings to comply with the requirements of the sanction. SCC did not replant all the native species destroyed in the fire as some of the native species were difficult to reproduce. The species planted included: Quercus humboldtii (Roble), Alnus jorullensis (Aliso), and Juglans neotropica (Cedro Nogal). In effect, the replanted forest is a poor copy of the original forest that existed before the fire with its myriad of species associations. In addition we considered it unacceptable that SCC was not required to maintain the native plantings.
Another fire broke out in August 1994, one of the most dangerous of months for fires as it is one of the driest. SCC was burning residues in piles. One of the fires along the road from Armenia to Calarc· re-lit. The fire was controlled early in the morning by SCC staff and the fire service from Calarc·. A cable logging system was lost valued at $22,000. They were fined nine minimum salaries for this forestry infraction totalling 8,00000 pesos, a derisory sum considering the profits made by SCC and the irreplaceable nature of the native forest lost; forest which had evolved over millennia to form a complex web of plant and animal interactions. The fine was imposed for not fulfilling the technical and legal requirements of the permit issued by the CRQ relating to burning of forest residues. The fire affected 1200m≤ of natural forest and vegetation in succession. SCC had not complied with the recommendations of the CRQ namely not to burn in high winds and to have someone watching over the fire during the day and night.
The practise of blanket burning large piles of forest residues on the flatter areas was carried out up to 1994. Blanket burning was largely not practised on the steeper slopes due to the risk of soil erosion except where there was very little residue to be burnt. After 1994, blanket burning was largely discontinued to be replaced by a policy that involves burning the residues in smaller more widely spaced piles; 30-40 piles per hectare 5-6 m apart. Presently SCC does not burn residues for land preparation purposes in QuindÌo, Risaralda, Caldas, Tolima or Valle del Cauca Departments.
In general, the municipalities do not have adequate resources to tackle forest fires and some serious action is required to remedy this deficiency. SCC must cover all costs incurred by the municipalities when fighting fires on their land. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.13 Water Supply and Demand in Colombia
Annual water demand in Colombia has to serve multiple sectors namely industry, hydroelectric power generation, drinking water, recreation, agriculture, water transport and the needs of wetland wildlife. Approximately 70% of this supply is used for agriculture, 25% in the mining and industrial sectors and 4% for domestic consumption in cities. IDEAM in its National Study of Water calculated that in 1996, the projected Colombian population in 1996, used 170 litres of water daily (IDEAM, 1998). Population growth was deemed to negate any gains in water supply as a result of conservation measures.
The hydrological zoning of Colombia consists of 5 hydrographic areas (Caribbean, Magdalena, Orinoco, Amazonas and Pacific). These in turn are divided into 39 watershed zones which roughly correspond to the rivers that cross these zones. The 39 zones are divided into sub-zones which correspond to small watersheds and their constituent sub-zones.
The remit of IDEAM is to obtain, analyse, study, process and divulge basic information on hydrology, hydro-geology, meteorology, biophysical aspects of basic geography, geomorphology, soils and vegetation cover for the management and exploitation of the biophysical resources of the Nation. It has a duty to establish and operate national meteorological and hydrological infrastructures in order to provide information, predictions, warnings and advisory services to the community. It co-ordinates research programmes involving the Ministry of the Environment and the regional Autonomous Corporations with regard to water quantity (supply and demand) and quality (deterioration due to pollution).
The Ministry of the Environment recognises that water resource planning, compatible with the conservation of natural resources ought to be the pillar of sustainable development. This it does through the National Water Strategy formulated by IDEAM.
The hydro-meteorological stations measure water flows and water outputs. In practice installing, operating and maintaining a hydrological station demands large investments of capital and highly trained personnel that makes it financially impossible to instrument all the watersheds in the country. For this reason, the optimisation of the location of the stations is deemed essential in order to obtain the best coverage without incurring unnecessary expenditure.
There are 1452 limnimetric and limnigraphic stations of which 927 are controlled and operated by IDEAM. However, IDEAM also assists other entities charged with the operation of the remaining stations established for more specific duties such as supply of water for drinking, agricultural uses or energy generation.
Increased knowledge of the quantity, quality and distribution of the supply and demand of the water-resource, will facilitate the taking of decisions and the drawing up of policies for the control, management and utilisation of the water resource. This includes the gathering of information and its input into a database that will form the basis of the stochastic modelling of the water resource to aid its proper utilisation.
It seeks to satisfy the competing uses of water e.g. irrigation, industry, agricultural and tree crops, cattle rearing, domestic use for cooking, washing and drinking.
LIST OF CONTENTS
1.14 The Environmental Impact of Eucalyptus and Pine Plantations on Colombian Water Resources
Commercial forestry plantations have been accused of affecting water resources in a number of ways. The inability of soil under pine plantations to hold water and the absence of undergrowth can increase runoff and cause flooding in the valleys below.
In contrast, others maintain that the plantations decrease water supplies to rural and urban populations by reducing runoff. Runoff is reduced by increased interception of rainfall by the tree canopy and its subsequent re-evaporation into the atmosphere. Others maintain that by consuming excessive amounts of groundwater supplies e.g. lowering the water table, relative to pastures plantations can dry out wetlands which fulfil a number of functions such as purifying wastes, acting as breeding and nurseries for commercial fish species not to mention their wildlife value. In addition the very lowering of water-tables can reduce the quantity of water available to local people who rely on groundwater as a water supply source. The fluctuation in the water table under any vegetation cover depends on such factors as the texture, structure and porosity of the soil environment, the nature of the parent materials and the physiography of the terrain.
In Chile some streams have dried up after the establishment of plantations and have reappeared when the trees were felled. Wells have also dried up depriving local residents of water for themselves and for their livestock (Carrere and Lohmann, 1996). On our visit to Colombia, we heard complaints from communities in Risaralda Department that their water sources have dried up as a result of the establishment of pine and eucalyptus plantations.
All plants need water to carry out their metabolic activities. In determining whether commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus have an adverse effect on water supply it is necessary to compare the water consumption of the pine or eucalyptus species in question with the water consumption of the vegetation cover prior to plantation establishment. In the case of SCC plantations, SCC claim that the previous land-use prior to plantation establishment was largely pastureland that had been degraded by decades of inappropriate cattle-rearing activities although some Colombian environmentalists dispute the prior landuse on some though not all of SCC's lands.
Changes in water supply under different vegetation covers is manifested through the different components of the hydrological cycle including interception and re-evaporation of water by the vegetation, evapo-transpiration, runoff, water infiltration into the soil to subterranean water sources and soil water storage. Likewise, a dense mat of impenetrable pine needles as observed under the Pinus patula plantations of Agroforestal Naya at La Paila, Cauca may also decrease infiltration and therefore increase runoff. Likewise runoff from pastureland may increase due to the compaction of the soil by cattle thereby decreasing infiltration.
The dominance of runoff over infiltration results in the rapid and abundant drainage of surface water. This transports large quantities of soil with its constituent soil nutrients with a resultant decrease in the productive capacity of the soil.
Measurements of the proportion of precipitation intercepted by tropical and subtropical forests are very variable due to the use of different methodologies and the examination of different vegetation covers at widely varying altitudes. What is important is which vegetation cover causes the greatest net loss of water under the same conditions of climate (volume of rainfall, seasonal pattern of rainfall, drought, temperature, wind) soil and topography. How the vegetation cover in an area is managed will also affect the different components of the hydrological cycle.
It must be acknowledged that different pine and eucalyptus species may behave differently with regards to their effects on soil and water. Between thirty and forty species of eucalyptus are used on a minor scale and around 20 species are used regularly on a grand scale in forestry plantations for commercial ends in various countries. They are grown under a wide range of geographical and soil conditions in the tropics, subtropics, Mediterranean and temperate lands from sea-level to 4,000m thus making it difficult to give valid generalisations on their environmental effects.
One of the best documents on the ecological impacts of eucalyptus is found in the work of Poore and Fries (1987). With regard to pine, the information is found dispersed in numerous studies. Discussions at world level on the effects of pine are outdated studies including some from the last century.
All plants need water to carry out their metabolic activities. The taking of water from the soil by plants depends in the first instance on the volumetric distribution of the root system. Eucalyptus grandis has a surface rooting pattern concentrated in the first 60 cm of the soil, while other species of Eucalyptus have a deep root system. Eucalyptus marginata for example extracts water from depths greater than 6 m, and probably as far as 15 m.
The depth of the watertable varies in different localities. As a consequence, the probability of extracting subterranean water on the part of the vegetation also varies. Thus the possibility of a significant extraction of water occurs especially in places continually subjected to bad drainage. However, Lima (1996) confirms that the commercial species of eucalyptus are characterised by having surface rooting systems, situated far from the water table.
Transpiration is a difficult process to measure which united with interception and direct evaporation from the surface of the soil represents the total consumption of water in a forest ecosystem. Transpiration depends on a series of factors including solar radiation, saturation of water in the atmosphere, temperature, wind velocity, water availability in the soil, age and type of vegetation. It also depends on the resistance that the stomata offer to the diffusion of vapour and the index of the foliar area. Thus the rate of transpiration will vary from species to species and from one moment of the day to another.
There are some studies carried out in hydrographic watersheds that show reductions in flows as a result of a change of cover from grass to eucalyptus plantations, generated probably by the different levels of interception that act as significant regulators of the final water balance (CONIF, 1998a).
Surface runoff will depend on rainfall intensity, the grade of slope, the vegetation cover and the nature of the soil. Evidence and experimental results show considerable reductions in surface runoff and in erosion after the establishment of eucalyptus plantations in degraded lands. But specialists accept that the influence of Eucalyptus spp. on surface runoff varies with the species, local conditions of climate, slope and management of the under-storey, although it can present a reduced base flow in the watersheds where it predominates.
Poore and Fries (1987) indicate that in any deforested watershed, the plantation of eucalyptus forest will substantially reduce the production of water. This effect will be probably equal or less than that of pines but more than other leafy species. In general all arborescent plants reduce the production of water in greater amounts than scrub or pasture.
Edwards and Blackie (1981, cited in CONIF, 1998a) affirm that the most efficient way of determining the effects on water performance caused by land-use changes is to investigate hydrographic watersheds. This is because one can determine parameters like transpiration, evaporation, volume of runoff and its seasonal distribution, growths and seasonal associated patterns of the production of sediments in such units.
One way is to look at small watersheds between 25 and 100 hectares with one or various types of land-use and work out the variables of the water balance equation such as runoff, precipitation and the variation in the storage of water in the soil.
Another method is to use paired watersheds, one of which is subjected to a treatment or intervention in its vegetation cover and the other left unaltered as a control watershed. The water balance is determined in both watersheds for a minimum of one year.
Bosch and Hewlett (1982 cited in CONIF, 1998a) revised 94 experiments in micro-watersheds affirming that pine and eucalyptus can cause an average decrease of water performance of 40 mm for each 10% change in vegetation cover. As has been mentioned already, this may or may not be an acceptable loss depending on the other water demands in the watershed. As we shall see later, some areas in Risaralda where SCC has commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus, e.g. Santa Rosa de Cabal are projected to suffer from water shortages in the long-term, therefore questioning whether the planting of pine and eucalyptus in these areas is an appropriate land-use.
In the watershed of Piedras Blancas (Antioquia), Giraldo (1992, cited in CONIF, 1998a) studied the two micro-watersheds La Beta and La Cubero situated in the Very Humid Lower Montane Forest Holdridge life zone (Holdridge, 1967) with surface areas of 58 and 51 hectares respectively. The La Beta watershed had 15 ha of pine and 16 ha of cypress while the La Cubero watershed had 9 ha of pine and 12 ha of cypress.
The author evaluated the effect of these commercial plantations and areas with thicket on soil moisture as far as the maximum rooting zone situated at a depth of 60 cm. The author concluded that for the zone of maximum rooting intensity, the cover of thicket had higher levels of moisture in comparison to those obtained for the forest covers. This data has implications for the future forest management or for the substitution of land use of the land in regions with life zones, similar to those in the study, e.g. regions where SCC has land holdings. The author also concluded that one ought to accept the benefits that a cover thicket has with respect to the production of water in hydrographic watersheds compared to a cover of conifers.
There was evidence of a higher loss of water by deep drainage in the pasture situated on the hill slope. At the same time, the pines maintained good water regulation in the soils in that the soil moisture was conserved at high levels throughout the year. The pastures had a higher level of soil moisture but this does not necessarily say that the tree crops have a detrimental effect as it is the overall water balance between the different compartments of the hydrological cycle that is important.
In one of the farms with eucalyptus, water interception was higher in plantations of 5-year-old E. grandis, than for the pastures, corresponding to the averages obtained by other authors. For runoff the measurements were low and similar for the two covers. On another farm with eucalyptus, losses of water by deep drainage were also low but similar between the eucalyptus and the pasture.
In conclusion, the results indicate that the plantations under the conditions of study do not generate significant detrimental effects on the reduction of flow. This affirmation is backed up with the soil profile moisture data that is maintained at a high level throughout the period of sampling for the two covers, including a month where direct wet precipitation was not received. However, an effect of geographical location on many variables in the studied parcels was obtained. Thus making it difficult for the valid comparison of such variables between farms possessing plantations of the same genus.
This reaffirms the necessity of referring continuously to local conditions to avoid general extrapolations that cannot be certain under different conditions. However at the watershed level, reductions in flow have been recorded as described above indicating that commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus may be an inappropriate land use in some watersheds where SCC has its plantations.
A number of water resource projects have been completed or are due to be completed that will have an impact on the activities of SCC.
Between 1992-1993, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Risaralda (CARDER) has compiled, analysed and evaluated an inventory of the water resource in the watersheds and microwatersheds of the Department of Risaralda so as to adequately manage them through proper planning.
The CRQ has worked out a help-system to facilitate the taking of decisions on the uses of water resources in the Department of QuindÌo. Between 1994-1995, it has determined the surface water availability and its actual and future demand in the hydrographical watersheds of the Department of QuindÌo under different scenarios. In 1995 a project was initiated by the CRQ, the environmental agency for QuindÌo with regard to the management of water resources and overall water policy in QuindÌo Department. The project objectives are to analyse any problems in QuindÌo relating to water quality and distribution. Population increase in QuindÌo has necessitated an increased water supply.
Between 1995-97, the Centre for Investigation in Sustainable Systems of Agricultural Production (Centro para la InvestigaciÛn en Sistemas Sostenibles de ProducciÛn Agropecuaria) developed education and management methodologies with the participation of local communities. This would allow them to value and carry out management of natural regeneration, with the aim of recuperating water sources in the hydrographic watershed of Rio FrÌo, Valle del Cauca.
In the Department of Risaralda, Public Companies of Pereira, the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers and CARDER engaged the Universidad Nacional, MedellÌn to carry out a study of the supply and demand of water in sub-region no. 1 of Risaralda Department (CARDER, undated). Subregion no. 1 has an extension of 1375 km≤ (38 % of the departmental area) and had a population of 486861 in 1985 that had risen to 589807 in 1993 representing a population increase of 1.09 % (DANE). The study projected the use of water in the short, medium and long-term under different scenarios.
The general conclusions of the study were as follows:
1.15 Environmental Impact of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations on Soill
An unacceptable level of soil erosion has been a problem in Colombia from the time of the commencement of agriculture, substantially increasing due to inappropriate cattle-rearing practises. In general soil erosion under a particular local climate depends on the local topography, the nature of the soil and the conditions of land-use or land management.
The principal factor that governs soil erosion in the short term is climate. The volume, distribution and intensity of rainfall and wind velocity have importance for the amount of soil loss at the regional level. Land use changes through time as a result of political and economic incentives has an effect on soil erosion in the long-term.
The limited number of comparative studies that exist on soil erosion below crops of eucalyptus and other types of vegetation are at times contradictory. In general, the incidence of erosion appears to be low in lands utilised permanently under tree cover as has been found in numerable studies (Eljk and Moreno, 1986, cited in CONIF 1998a).
However there is some evidence that mature stands of Eucalyptus spp. are not adequate for erosion control, especially when grown in large-scale plantations in that they were not very effective in detaining surface runoff. Stein (1952, cited by CONIF, 1998a) observed that in dry areas with pronounced slopes planted with E. globulus, understorey development and accumulated leaf-litter were insufficient to prevent surface runoff. Thus they do not recommend dense plantations of eucalyptus for the control of erosion, in semi-arid and dry climates.
Eucaliptol from eucalyptus leaves accumulates in regions of dry climates, inhibiting the biotic populations of the soil that favour a soil structure that limits soil erosion. Thus in these zones, the susceptibility of the soil to erosion in lands planted with eucalyptus will be greater.
Young plantations are very susceptible to competition with grasses and are therefore weeded during the establishment phase of the plantation in order to limit their competitive effect on the trees. This may not always be desirable on steep or easily eroded slopes in that the role of these weeds may actually have been binding the soil.
Lima (1990, cited by CONIF, 1998a) studied surface runoff, erosion and the losses of nutrients in sandy soils in the state of Sao Paulo (Brazil) in forested micro-plots subjected to different systems of soil preparation, density of sowing and silvicultural management. In the first year, he found high values of surface runoff and erosion for all parcels including areas that were constantly bare. However after the trees grew, the author found appreciable diminution in the studied variables concluding that eucalyptus plantations can exert a significant control on surface runoff, nutrient losses and soil material.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations cited as an example that a negligible level of erosion in a native forest was only raised to 0.025 ton/hectare/year below a population of eucalyptus, but reached more than 59 ton/hectare/year under other vegetation covers (FAO, 1986, cited by CONIF, 1998a). The FAO have affirmed that E. globulus (grown at higher elevations in Colombia) was a valuable tree for erosion control at the sides of roads and in barriers against wind.
There are various documents that show a greater loss of soil, leaching, disturbance of the soil cap, compaction, decrease in infiltration and increase in surface runoff at the time of the use of the plantations. This may be due to such activities as clear-cutting, dragging of trunks (by horses), building of forest roads or construction of drainage.
Heavy machinery and horses compact the soil making it difficult for water to infiltrate thus increasing runoff and therefore promoting erosion. Log extraction breaks the soil's surface, leaving it exposed to the erosive action of rain. All roads should be put in as near as possible to the time of harvesting to minimise soil erosion. It is claimed by SCC that harvesting is carried out during dry periods to reduce soil erosion and because it is less dangerous for the workers, e.g. there is less danger of chainsaws slipping in dry weather. However we visited harvesting operations at America Farm, Municvipality of Calarc· on a wet day at the start of the rainy season where we observed harvesting operations. Harvesting is by clear-cutting areas of not more than 30 hectares as it is part of the watershed that supplies the Municipality of Calarc·. The pine plantations are harvested after 15 years and the eucalyptus after 7 years. In any year, between 2,000-2500 hectares are harvested, the exact amount depending on the demands of the mills.
The logs are stripped of all their branches and bark which are left on the surface of the soil to help reduce soil erosion and loss of nutrients. The debarked logs are taken to the Yumbo plant where they are chipped. SCC has admitted that there may be some erosion in Alegrias Farm when we questioned them on the causes of a 1.5 m wide gully observed under the plantation but that they tried to minimise its importance. They claim that you will also observe erosion in natural forest. We do not dispute that erosion can occur in natural forest. However what is disputed is whether soil erosion under SCC plantations is at an acceptable level compared to the previous land use. The soil in SCC plantations is often left exposed for 2-3 months before replanting. The amount of soil lost from SCC land from the time after clear-cutting to the replanting of the trees is not known. The only way to determine soil losses is to monitor it. We call on SCC to quantify soil losses at all its plantation sites through a monitoring programme and an independent verification of the results by a competent environmental authority.
Many of the soils under SCC plantations are derived from volcanic ash. This ash behaves like a gel when it is supersaturated with moisture. The ash retains high humidity and results in soils with high productivity and with a high level of fragility, that is to say they are susceptible to erosion once they are exposed to drying conditions. This is because by losing their moisture they lose their gel characteristics and are thus converted into hard highly erodible soils. LIST OF CONTENTS
1.16 The Future of Pine and Eucalyptus Plantations in Colombia
A number of Decrees deal with the rational use of natural resources in Colombia.
Article 314d, Decree 2811, 1974: ‘the public administration will co-ordinate and promote the rational use of renewable natural resources of the watershed in ordination for the benefit of the community'.
Article 316, Decree 2811 of 1974: ‘For the structuring of an ordination and management plan of the hydrographic watersheds the relevant bodies will consult with the users of the resources of the watershed and with the public and private entities, that develop activities in the region.
Article 202, Decree 2811 of 1974: ‘the forestry nature of the soils will be determined by ecological and socio-economic studies'.
Law 99, 1993 article 1(5): ‘In the use of water resources, human consumption will take priority over any other use'.
Law 99, 1993 article 1(6): ‘Öindividuals will apply the principles of precaution when there is a danger of serious and irreversible damage, the lack of absolute scientific certainty must not be used as a reason for postponing the adoption of measures to prevent the degradation of the environment'.
Law 99, 1993 article 1(12): ‘Conforming to the National Constitution, the environmental management of the country, will be decentralised, democratic and participative.
Law 99, 1993 article 1(7): the state will promote the incorporation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments for the prevention, correction and restoration of environmental deterioration and for the conservation of renewable natural resources. Article 2: ‘The Ministry of the Environment together with the President of the Republic guaranteeing the participation of the community, will formulate a national environmental policy. This will be formulated in such a way that guarantees the right of all persons to enjoy a healthy environment and that protects the natural patrimony and the sovereignty of the nation'.
To comply with the above laws and the mission statement of SCC, the delegation calls on SCC to carry out a comprehensive environmental audit on all its activities. This is a useful modern tool in environmental management and should look at the following:
This audit should be done every three years by an independent body as a way of gauging the record of SCC and its subsidiaries in moving towards sustainability. It will also serve to identify future research needs in the environmental area. These audits have been shown to show up wasteful practices thereby often saving companies considerable sums of money in the long-term. These savings may relate to energy, transport and raw material costs. Colombian environmental non-governmental organisations should be consulted throughout the auditing process.
To aid the environmental auditing of SCC forestry plantations, the International Tropical Timber Organisation Guidelines on planted forest establishment can be followed. The guidelines consider that unfavourable sites, e.g. steep slopes with fragile soils carry a high risk of soil erosion and low rates of productivity and therefore should be preserved by protective or conservation forestry (Principle 28). The guidelines recommend restricting intensive forestry, especially short rotation, single-species industrial timber plantations such as those of SCC to sites with physically, chemically and biologically favourable soils and flat to gently sloping terrain (Recommended Action 25).
As part of a comprehensive environmental audit, all SCC products should be subjected to a rigorous cradle to grave analysis. The European Environment Agency calls cradle-to-grave analysis Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). It involves the evaluation of a product system through all stages of its life cycle from extraction and processing of the raw materials, through product manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, re-use, recycling and ultimately waste disposal. It is considered a useful tool for the taking of decisions in environmental management. The European Parliament has suggested that the Commission develop a framework for an integrated lifecycle orientated product policy. LCA is considered to save natural resources and energy and minimise pollution and waste but can also save industry money and give competitive advantages as consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products. The European Environment Agency has the mandate to provide the community and member states with objective, reliable and comparable information at European level and has produced a guide to Life Cycle Assessment (Jensen et al., 1998).
A comprehensive Environmental Impact Study as defined by the European Community Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (85/337/EEC) is not required prior to the establishment of commercial forestry plantations in Colombia. In Ireland, such a study is required for plantations above 70 ha for both initial afforestation and contiguous afforestation by a single developer over a three year period.
SCC should also move towards having their plantations and the products that they produce certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. In order to get certification for its plantations and products, SCC must reach minimum standards for its plantations with regard to preventing adverse environmental, economic and social impacts on local people by using the FSC set of criteria. LIST OF CONTENTS
SMURFIT CARTÓN DE COLOMBIA IN THE RAINFORESTS OF BAJO CALIMA: THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS.
In 1974 the Colombian government granted Carton de Colombia/Pulpapel a concession of 61,600 ha. of tropical rainforest to harvest in the Pacific coast area of Bajo Calima. In 1986, Smurfit took over the company which then became known as Smurfit Carton de Colombia (SCC). The concession was terminated in 1993.
The area of the concession was an area of exceptionally high biodiversity, being one of the most species-rich areas of rainforest in the world and containing many species found nowhere else on the planet: an area of immense ecological value. It is alleged by the local community (among others) that during the time of the concession, Carton de Colombia was responsible for the environmental, social, economic and cultural devastation of the area, and furthermore, that the manner of their leaving in 1993 made the situation even worse.
Our task was to determine whether these allegations were true.
We visited the area and spoke with the local people and with members of Fundación Trópico, a group of scientists who have carried out studies of the area.
LIST OF CONTENTS
The Bajo Calima concession lies near the Pacific coast of Colombia near the port of Buenaventura in the Department of Valle del Cauca, south of the River San Juan and River Calima, at 03˚57' - 04˚10' N and 77˚01'-12' W. Altitudes are between 50-150m with slopes between 45-50˚.
In accordance with the life zone classification of Holdridge (1967), it is considered to be Tropical Humid Forest in transition to Tropical Wet Forest. Tropical forests cover on 12% of the earth's surface, yet they contain between 50% and 90% of all the species in the world. In addition, the great majority of species in tropical forests are as yet unnamed (there are possibly 10,000 species of plants still undescribed).
The area of the concession forms part of the Chocó biogeographical region, consisting of some of the most species-rich rainforest in the world, with a high degree of endemism, i.e. it contains many species found nowhere else on the planet. It is estimated that a quarter of the plant species in the region are endemic (Gentry, 1982, cited in Borrero-Navia, 1992) and that this region also has the highest rate of endemism of birds in the world (Terborgh and Winter, 1982, cited in Borrero-Navia, 1992). Since there are many still unexplored areas of forest there, it is probable that the Chocó region contains many more species of plants still unknown to science. Indeed, it has been suggested that most of the undiscovered plants on the planet are probably to be found in the Chocó region, whose forests may well be a source of valuable foods and medicines hitherto unknown (Borrero-navia, 1992).
In one hectare, 252 species of tree >10cm diameter at breast height have been recorded (cited in Faber-Langedoen, 1991). Palms, especially Jessenia botaua (milpeso), formed 20% of the tree stems.
Annual rainfall is between 7,000-8,000 mm in the area of the concession. There is a drier period between December and March. The average annual temperature is 27.3˚C. The soils in the concession are classified as entisols under the Comprehensive System of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; a mixture of mottled grey-yellow clays and fragments of alluvial deposits of tertiary age with a pH range of 4.3-5.0. These soils are very poor in nutrients with very low concentrations of phosphorous and boron and high levels of aluminium. Due to the poor nutrient status of the soils, the rapid weed growth as result of the high rainfall, and the hilly topography, land use is principally restricted to forestry activity, although agriculture is practised in the floodplain of the River Calima.
The population of the Bajo Calima region is made up of a black ethnic majority which constitutes 90% of the population and an indigenous ethnic minority, with a small percentage of mestizos.
The black population of the region were brought to the area as slaves to work in the gold mines. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish brought in so many black people that they surpassed the indigenous population in number. Slavery was officially abolished in 1849 but in many regions of Colombia continued well into the 20th century. The black population used the wood from the forest only for their own use, while learning agriculture from the Indians.
Carton de Colombia first arrived in the area in 1959 under the name "Pulpapel", when they were granted a forestry concession of 15,000 hectares by the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1962 they were granted another concession, of 25,000 hectares, followed in 1970 by a further 11,710 hectares and in 1971 by another 6,500 hectares..
Then, in 1974, an agreement between the national Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and of the Environment (INDERENA) and Carton de Colombia established a concession valid for 30 years and covering 61,600 hectares. A concession management plan was made covering a total area of 36,000 hectares with the help of the Colombian government.
The concession was operated on a clear-cut system followed by natural regeneration. Two companies, working under the supervision of Carton de Colombia personnel, were contracted to harvest the timber used in the manufacture of paper pulp. Bark, branches and other woody debris left over from harvesting were left in the clear-cut area to maximise nutrient retention. If this debris had been transported out of the area, then this would have represented a loss of nutrients in the debris from the ecosystem. Most of the wood was taken out to the forest roads using a system of skyline cables and the logs then shifted onto trucks for transport to the Yumbo pulp-mill north of Cali.
In November 1992, Carton de Colombia formally announced its intention of renouncing its rights under the concession. However, there have been claims that Carton de Colombia gave up the concession at least partly due to external pressure from INDERENA (Broderick, 1998), although the company has claimed that they were never fined or sanctioned in any way during the 19 years of the concession. In spite of giving up the concession, however, the company admits that they still use what they call "waste wood" from the Bajo Calima region. However, they decline to give a definition of what constitutes waste wood, or to state the precise localities from where they obtain it and from whom they buy it. LIST OF CONTENTS
We visited the area and spoke with the local community. We saw with our own eyes both the degraded state of the forest and the extreme poverty of the people. We were told by the community that they blamed Smurfit Carton de Colombia for both the wretched state of their lives and for the devastation of the forest. Given the indisputably dire state of both, our task was to determine whether Smurfit Carton de Colombia were indeed to blame.
To do this it was necessary to determine:
1. What the condition of the people and the environment in the area had been prior to the granting of the concession.
2. What was the exact nature and extent of damage to the community and the environment in the area during the 19 year period of the concession.
3. What evidence was there to indicate the causes of any damage found.
4. Who is responsible.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.1. Conditions Prior to the Concession
2.3.1 (a) Condition of the environment prior to the concession
As has previously been mentioned, the area of the concession forms part of the Chocó biogeographical region consisting of some of the most species-rich rainforest in the world, with a high degree of endemism. Yet in spite of being one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, it is the most underrepresented in the protected area system. For purposes of comparison during our visit to the concession area we visited an area of relatively undisturbed rainforest. There, we found forest which still had large canopy trees and had understory and canopy layers consisting of rainforest species in an almost pristine condition. In addition, the air was filled with a cacohony of bird sound.
Interference with the environment prior to the concession
Before the concession, the people of Bajo Calima cut wood from the forest in small quantities, mostly for their own needs, without causing damage. According to Broderick (1998), in the 1940s, with the growth of the cities in Colombia, there was an increased demand for wood for construction purposes. Wood merchants began to arrive to establish sawmills in the area. Local people then started cutting wood to sell to the sawmills. However in those days the demands on wood were not great and these activities presented no serious threat to the environment. When new roads made the area more accessible in the 1950s, the population increased, as did the number of sawmills.
In 1959 Carton de Colombia arrived and through the series of concessions mentioned previously, began to exploit the forests of Bajo Calima. By the time of the major concession in 1974, Carton de Colombia had already been exploiting the forests of the region for 15 years. However, according to Ladrach and Wright (1995), "for the most part, the rain forest was intact when the concession was initiated".LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.1 (b) Condition of the community prior to the concession
Before the advent of Carton de Colombia to Bajo Calima the people of the area were poor, but not hungry. They were self-sufficient, with an economy based on a combination of subsistence agriculture and small-scale mining, complemented by hunting, fishing, gathering and non-intensive cutting of wood. They lived mostly in scattered communities along the river banks where the soils were more suitable for agriculture. They cultivated a range of more than 44 species of food plants and, in addition, gathered food from the forest which offered a great variety of edible fruits, leaves, steams, seeds etc. They also hunted forest animals and birds for meat and caught fish in the rivers. According to Fundación Trópico (1997) their diet included 36 species of mammals, 32 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles and 24 species of fish. These traditional methods of food production guaranteed a natural and nutritionally adequate diet for the communities of the region (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
The people had their own traditional medicinal system using plants and animals of the forest. They also cut wood from the forest in small quantities, mostly for their own use: to build houses, furniture and canoes, for example, and for firewood. In addition, the sale of small amounts of wood and gold provided a minimal surplus to cover other expenses. Money, however, did not play a large part in their lives.
Social relationships were based on co-operation, on the sense of community generated by collective work. In addition, these people possessed a rich culture of music and dance. In the words of the report by Fundación Trópico (1997), the people had "a multiactive economy based on the wealth of biodiversity and of cultural knowledge and on the use of the different resources offered by the physical environment and social relationships."
In summary, the way of life of the people was sustainable: they lived in harmony with their environment, using the natural resources without depleting them or interfering with the natural biodiversity.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.2. Damage Resulting from the Concession
2.3.2 (a) Damage to the environment during the concession
When we visited part of the concession area we found a degraded landscape devoid of any canopy trees except palms. The area was dominated by herbaceous plants of open grounds including Mimosa species, with a climbing fern forming dense swards along the roadside banks. According to Wilson (1992, cited in Fundación Trópico, 1997), the Bajo Calima region is now considered to be one of the 18 "hot" areas of extinction in the world, that is to say it is an area of high endemic biodiversity in danger of disappearing due to human activity.
Collazos in his report on the environmental code in the Bahía Málaga-Calima zone to the government of Valle in 1990 described the concession area as "a devastated area, with little chance of recovery" and stated that ‘the valuable natural resources" had been "irrationally and irresponsibly exploited". He lamented that the indiscriminate cutting of the forest, "has prevented the possibility of the rational use of one of the most rich and diverse ecosystems in the world" (cited in Broderick, 1998).
A study of the Faculty of Forestry Engineering in the University of Tolima carried out in 1987 affirmed that the method of clear-cut applied to the forest has resulted in incalculable damage for the ecosystem of Bajo Calima. It went on to say that the selective cutting carried out by the inhabitants does not cause serious damage to the ecosystem (cited in Broderick, 1998).
Fundación Trópico (1997) stated that there has been a great loss of biodiversity in the area, and that the deforestation has had a strongly negative impact on the richness, diversity and composition of the plant, animal and insect populations. Several plant and animal species have disappeared altogether, while others have been reduced. There were dramatic changes in both the structure and composition of the forests which have had a negative effect on the diversity and abundance of the fauna of the area. The report went on to list a variety of animal and insect species which are currently under threat. In addition Bonilla (1992) noted the reduction or disappearance of a range of plant and animal species vital to the indigenous Waunana people.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.2(b) Damage to the community during the concession
The people of Bajo Calima are now living in a state of extreme poverty, suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Their environment has been destroyed and their culture is in a state of decline.
They blame Carton de Colombia for this. They say that the company "was exploiting the woods of Bajo Calima for many years . .. leaving behind only desolation and poverty. This wood exploitation has many harmful results for the communities settled here and for our forests" (Community Council 1998).
During our visit to the concession area we saw the poverty-stricken state of the people and heard from them how the concessoin of Carton de Colombia has affected their lives. We spoke with members of ONCAPROTECA (Organización Negra Campesina Prodefensa del Territorio de Bajo Calima), a black ethnic group campaigning for land rights in Bajo Calima, and with members of Fundación Trópico, an interdisciplinary group of scientists who have carried out studies of the region. This oral testimony is supported by information given to us by the Community Council of Bajo Calima (Community Council, 1998) and by the report of the investigations carried out by Fundación Trópico (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
The principal impact of the concession has been on the black ethnic community of Bajo Calima, although the indigenous people in the region were also negatively affected.
We were told that the concession has led to the destruction of the traditional food sources of the people. The food plants which they once gathered from the forest are now in decline, while many species of animals and birds which they had hunted for food have become scarce or have disappeared entirely. The fish which had been an important part of their diet have also significantly diminished, while the rivers which are their source of drinking water are now polluted.
Agriculture has fallen into decline and agricultural skills have been lost, particularly among the young. Seed sources have also been lost. The diet of the people has changed to one of processed foods, which has contributed to a deterioration in health. Hunger and malnutrition are problems in the area. We were told: "Our grandfathers had enough to eat, but this is no longer the case" and "People here are going hungry".
Medicinal plants and animals have also become scarce and the traditional medicine of the region is disappearing, to be replaced by modern medicine, which the community can ill afford. As well as the loss of their traditional agricultural and medical skills, there has been a more general cultural deterioration which includes the loss of the tradition of co-operative work, and the loss of traditional crafts, music and dance.
Today, most of the people try to survive by extracting wood from what is left of the forests. However, the forests are in such a degraded state that in order to find wood good enough to sell it is necessary to travel father and farther away. The time and expense involved in transporting the wood over these distances makes it very difficult for anyone to earn sufficient money to live. They say that they are aware that these activities are further damaging the environment, but insist that they have no alternative as they are "desperate and hungry."
According to Fundación Trópico (1997), Bajo Calima has become "one of the areas of greatest concentration of poverty in the Americas."LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.3 Possible Causes of Damage
Given that it is indisputable that damage has occurred to both the forests and people of Bajo Calima, it is necessary to determine the causes. According to Fundación Trópico, ‘the principal cause of the socio-cultural deterioration and the deterioration in biodiversity in Bajo Calima has been the intensive extraction of wood resulting from the granting of the wood concessions by the Colombian state to the company Carton de Colombia."
In order to determine more precisely the causes of the damage, several factors are examined.
2.3.3 (a) Clear-cutting system operated by Carton de Colombia
As already mentioned, the concession was operated under a clear-cutting system followed by natural regeneration. Carton de Colombia claim to have clear-cut two areas of 300 hectares per year. Allowing for losses to forest infrastructure such as road, 12-13,000 hectares out of a total of 65,000 hectares were cut over the 19 years of the concession. However, observers from the University of Tolima Forestry Centre were of the opinion that the area cut was at least 30,000 hectares and possibly much more (cited in Broderick, 1998). CONIF, the state body charged with forestry investigation and promotion, estimated that 32,270 hectares of land were affected by Carton de Colombia.
Five per cent of the total area of the concession was left as forest reserves with the objective of preserving the original environment (Gutiérres, 1975). Two reserves were set aside on the banks of the river totalling 1,772 and 2,372 hectares respectively. However it is unclear whether Carton de Colombia were obliged to leave these areas untouched under the terms of the contract with INDERENA, as we have not seen this contract.
Carton de Colombia decided to adopt a 30-year rotation time for the clear-cuts, based on calculations on the rate of growth of natural regeneration of 1 cm in diameter per year and approximately 3.8 m3 wood-hectare/year.
Ladrach and Mazuera (1985) carried out an inventory for Carton de Colombia of the primary forest and of the natural regeneration in the concession two years after harvesting. Some species recorded in the primary forest were not found in the natural regeneration.
Surveys were made Carton de Colombia in 1979 to ascertain the changes in the flora over time in the second growth and also to gauge the rate of re-growth. It was found that fifteen years after clear-cutting, the volume of the 15-year-old re-growth for trees greater than 13 centimetres diameter at breast height (dbh) was half the volume of the mature forest in the low hills, the most common forest type in the concession. Thus it was projected that after 30 years, the forest should have re-growth equal to or greater than the original mature forest volume (Mazuera, 1979). But this study did not determine whether the original species composition of the primary forest would exactly match that of the 30-year re-growth.
To determine this, Faber-Langedoen (1991) made a study for Smurfit Carton de Colombia on the effect of clear-cutting and subsequent natural regeneration on the structure and diversity of the forest in the concession. It was found that clear-cutting reduced the total basal area of the superior strata, biomass and diversity of species by 5%, 7% and 20% of the levels of the primary forest respectively. After 12 years, the clear-cut had recovered 46% of the basal area, 37% of the biomass and 36% of the biodiversity. Fifty percent of the biodiversity was made up of pioneer species. However, it was considered that climax species would take more than 30 years to recover.
Some climax species in the primary forest e.g Aspidosperma, Humiriastrum, Manilkara bidentata, Pouteria eugeniifolia, Pouteria collina and Tavomita weddelliana were not found in the upper strata after the clear-cutting; their regeneration in the lower layer was either very low or absent.
Faber-Langendoen (1991) claimed that with a rotation of 30 years the benefits for conservation would be minimal. Once the concession had been harvested, it would be desirable to change the harvesting procedures in the next rotation. It was envisaged that the secondary forests would be divided into two groups: one to be cut in the short-term and the other to be cut in the long-term. The short-term rotation would utilise the rates of rapid growth of the pioneer trees when the rate of growth started to decline, possibly after 20-30 years. It was claimed that a 60-year rotation would permit the recovery of climax species, thus aiding conservation objectives. Faber-Langendoen also called for additional reserves to be set up away from the harvesting roads, to serve as separate areas for the conservation of trees of the primary forest and to provide a source of seeds for the areas which would be managed under a 60-year rotation.
Ladrach and Wright (1995) (researchers with Smurfit Carton de Colombia) confirmed that while a 30 year rotation is biologically feasible for sustained timber yields (being sufficient for regeneration of volume or biomass) it is too short a rotation to sustain species richness. It was estimated that about 90 years would be required for the full recovery of the primary forest species (Faber-Langendoen 1991, Ladrach and Wright, 1995).
From the above, it is clear that the 30-year rotation practised by Carton de Colombia for 19 years in the Bajo Calima concession was not sufficient to regenerate the biodiversity of the primary forest. It is also clear that the concession was awarded to Carton de Colombia prior to the determination of how long the regeneration in the clear-cut areas would take to gain the original biodiversity of the primary forest. Indeed, Ladrach and Wright (1995) admitted that there were grave doubts initially that the forest would regenerate itself after a clear-cut. Even now, critical questions such as the persistence of the plant populations in the clear-cut and their rates of reproduction are not known.
Also, the studies carried out above can be questioned on the basis that any study comparing species diversity in regenerated areas and undisturbed areas is somewhat limited by the capacity of the researchers to identify all of the species in both types of area; a common problem in the species-rich tropics. According to Faber-Langedoen (1991) ". . . the role of the forest reserves . . . for the protection of botanical diversity in the concession is completely unknown. No study has been carried out to determine . . . whether or not these areas are representative of the concession." Therefore one can never be sure that there are exactly the same species in the clear-cut and undisturbed areas. It also makes it difficult to evaluate the patterns of regeneration or the descriptions of the forest before and after the clear-cut. Faber-Langedoen (1991) admitted that ‘the work of classification of species that has been carried out in the concession ought to continue in order to better our identifications".
Smurfit Carton de Colombia claims that the damage to the area occurred after they gave up the concession, describing the species which they extracted for the manufacture of pulp as being common species of low value. However this ignores the ecological role which these "common species of low value" have in the ecosystem as a whole, such as providing nest sites for birds or as support for climbers and epiphytes.
Clear-cutting an area will inevitably affect the light regime in the forest. The shade-tolerant species will be the first to be affected. A study of the aroids (Araceae), a family that has epiphytic members, in the Bajo Calima area for a doctorate thesis in 1996, revealed that of the 10 aroid species found, more than 50 species were new to science (Bay, 1996).
Smurfit Carton de Colombia contends that there is only a low impact on the regional fauna limited to small migrations produced by the noise generated by the falling trees. However, breeding success of birds is very often determined by the readiness with which they can court and find a mate in a relatively undisturbed environment. But to where can the birds migrate? Firstly, clear-cutting reduces the area of undisturbed forest, reducing the amount of suitable habitat at a particular moment in time. Large forest mammals seem to be particularly susceptible to forest logging as they require large areas of undisturbed primary forest. In addition some birds of pristine primary forest cannot adapt to disturbed forest or cleared areas because their food sources (e.g. fruiting trees) disappear after logging. Secondly, if a bird or mammal migrates to an adjacent patch of undisturbed forest, then it may enter the territory of an individual of its own species. As an area can only support so many territories of a given species, conflict between the resident and the newcomer of the species can arise. Thirdly, in areas of fragmented primary forest, some birds of these primary forests are very reluctant to cross open spaces to reach undisturbed forest patches and so are confined to increasingly smaller forest patches left after logging.
In conclusion, a wide range of species will be affected by clear-cutting at least in the short-term, but as we have seen from Carton de Colombia's studies of the regeneration, many species may not return for at least 90 years.
Other researchers are even less optimistic than Smurfit Carton de Colombia about the future of the once species-rich forests of Bajo Calima.
As previously mentioned, a study by the Faculty of Forestry Engineering in the University of Tolima carried out in 1987 affirmed that the method of clear-cutting applied to the forest has resulted in incalculable damage for the ecosystem of Bajo Calima (cited in Broderick, 1998).
Fundación Trópico confirmed that 20 years after clear-cutting, the forests of Bajo Calima have suffered a great loss of biodiversity, having changed in both structure and composition, with a consequent negative effect on the diversity and abundance of the fauna of the region (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
Gentry (1989, cited in Borrero-Navia, 1992), stated that as yet there is no single instance of a tropical forest reconstituting itself after deforestation over a large area.
2.3.3 (b) Activities of Colonists
Smurfit Carton de Colombia blames the damage done to the forest on "colonists", i.e. people who entered the forests in the wake of the concession workers in order to harvest what wood was left. During the period of the concession large numbers of these colonists moved into the area, attracted by the logging business and by the presence of the company, in order to exploit the forest for money. Indeed, colonists had been coming into the area prior to the arrival of Carton de Colombia, but were limited in the damage they could do by the inaccessibility of most of the forest.
However, Carton de Colombia had built roads into the forest to facilitate their own logging operations. These roads, by opening up previously inaccessible areas of the forest, greatly facilitated the destructive activities of the colonists, who came along with axes, machetes and chainsaws and cut indiscriminately in the areas of regeneration, as well as in the primary forest, thus impairing the regeneration process (Fundación Trópico, 1997; Broderick, 1998).
As early as 1974 it was observed that the presence of colonists constantly threatened the regeneration of the clear cut areas (Benitez, 1974). Buschbacher, (cited in Goodland, 1990), described how, once the regenerating forest had reached a size suitable for their needs (usually after 4-6 years) colonists (and some local inhabitants) entered via Carton de Colombia's logging roads and made heavy and repeated selective cuts for poles, mine props and construction posts, preventing the regeneration from developing into secondary forest.
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2.3.3 (c) Socio-economic changes brought about by of the presence of Carton de Colombia
The advent of Carton de Colombia to the Bajo Calima region brought about a transformation of the economy of the area: from an economy based on the wealth of their natural resources and cultural knowledge to an economy based almost entirely on the harvesting of wood (Fundación Trópico, 1997). A previously self-sufficient people became dependent on one company (Carton de Colombia) and one product (wood). The economic changes caused a change in attitude towards their environment: when people started to work for Carton de Colombia they began to perceive the forest in terms of monetary value, as something which could be sold for a price (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
Also, with the introduction of money came a consumerist mentality and the desire for material goods. Meanwhile, working for Carton de Colombia, many people abandoned their traditional methods of food production (agriculture, hunting, fishing, gathering) and adopted a diet of processed foods, to the detriment of their health. The co-operative mentality which went with their previous lifestyle disappeared, their sense of community diminished and their culture deteriorated (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
The roads built by Carton de Colombia opened up the forest to increasing numbers of colonists attracted by the wood business. This caused further pressure on the natural resources of the area.
When the forests began to decline, the people no longer had the resources vital to their survival. Forest plants had always been a source of both food and medicine; the disappearance of these resources, along with the loss of their agricultural traditions, led to problems of hunger and malnutrition. This was exacerbated by the depletion of game animals and birds previously hunted for food, whose number declined as their forest habitat disappeared (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
The fish which had been another important source of food also declined, partly because fruit which fell from the trees had been a food source for them, and partly due to pollution of the river by toxins leached from the tree bark left on the soil after clear-cutting (Community Council, 1998).
The cutting of the trees also led to the impoverishment of the soil (due to the reduction in leaf litter and fallen tree trunks), so that those people who attempted to return to their traditional agricultural practices found themselves hampered not only by loss of seed sources but also by a serious decline in soil fertility (Community Council 1998).
The decline in the forests also meant the disappearance of trees whose wood was suitable for building or for selling. In order to find good wood, it became necessary to travel much farther away making it more and more difficult for people to make a living from the forests, and many, especially the young , having by now lost their knowledge of agriculture, were forced to leave the area and migrate to the cities in order to survive (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
It can be seen that the presence of Carton de Colombia in the area had far-reaching and devastating effects on the lives of the local people, both directly, due to the destruction of vital forest resources, and indirectly, due to the socio-economic transformation which occurred.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.4. Responsibility for Damage
The people of Bajo Calima hold Smurfit Carton de Colombia responsible for the damage done to the region. In a letter received by us from the Community Council of Bajo Calima they said:
"As can be seen, the magnitude of the damage caused ...was immensely greater than the benefits brought by the company. At the passing of Smurfit Carton de Colombia our conditions of quality of life were terribly impaired, and the environment destroyed . . . we demand that Smurfit Carton de Colombia compensate us and contribute the resources necessary for the recovery of the area." (Community Council, 1998).
Fundación Trópico, in their scientific evaluation of the effect of the concession on the biodiversity and culture of the region state:
". . . the factor most implicated in the social, cultural, economic and environmental deterioration in Bajo Calima, i.e. in ruining the quality of life of its traditional inhabitants, has been the presence of the company Pulpapel-Carton de Colombia (now Smurfit Carton de Colombia) for its intensive extraction of wood for pulp." (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
There are several reasons why Smurfit Carton de Colombia might be considered to have failed in their responsibilities to the people and forests of Bajo Calima. These will be examined below.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.4 (a) Use of an inappropriate harvesting system by Carton de Colombia.
Carton de Colombia used a clear-cut harvesting system whose likely effects on the forests of Bajo Calima were, at that time, completely unknown. Ladrach and Wright (1995) admitted: ‘there were grave doubts initially that the forest would regenerate itself after a clear-cut."
The company submitted a management plan specifying a 30-year rotation prior to any determination of how much time would be needed for the forest to recover its original biodiversity. It was subsequently estimated that full recovery of the forest would take at least 90 years (though mainstream scientific opinion is that a forest so severely damaged over such a great area will never recover its full biodiversity).
In addition, the company does not seem to have considered the effects that any changes in biodiversity due to clear-cutting might have on the food sources of the local community, who, as we have seen, were dependent on the forest for gathering food plants, hunting, fishing and collecting seeds for cultivation. As mentioned, all of these food sources were negatively affected as a result of the concession.
All this should have been dealt with by an Environmental Impact Study on the part of the company. However, Carton de Colombia did not carry out an Environmental Impact Study at the granting of the concession, because the concession was granted in 1973, the year before environmental impact studies were made a legal requirement by decree 2811 of the Colombian environmental code.
However, according to the environmental lawyer Borrero-Navia (1992), even though an Environmental Impact Study was not legally required at the time, it would have been the norm in these situations ("a norm of public order and an obligatory fulfilment") in order to determine the potential effects of the concession on the ecosystem, biodiversity and indigenous cultures of the region. In addition, he claimed, although a proper Environmental Impact Study wound have been legally required for any later modifications and additions to the concession contract, this was not demanded of the company by the Colombian government. Borrero-Navia also pointed out that the technical study demanded of the company did not investigate to what extent the harvesting techniques used by the company were compatible with the fragility and vulnerability of the rainforest.
Part of the concession contract stipulated that forest research was to be conducted on the concession (Ladrach and Wright, 1995). Conservation of biodiversity in the concession area wound require both an analysis of the biodiversity of the primary forest and the determination of the time required after clear-cutting for full regeneration of this biodiversity.
It is true that Carton de Colombia carried out research into these areas among others. Collections were made of plants, mammals, birds and insects within the concession area (an illustrated flora of the region is in preparation) and certain areas of the concession were set aside as forest reserves. However, the company began harvesting the forest prior to determining the extent of the biodiversity of the area, and, as we have seen, no studies were carried out to determine whether or not the areas designated as forest reserves were actually representative of the concession.
Studies were also carried out on natural regeneration after clear-cutting, but, as admitted by Ladrach and Wright (1995), these investigations were frequently hampered by unauthorised pole cutting by colonists, which the company seemed to be unable to control. Smurfit Carton de Colombia admitted that selective cutting, as opposed to clear-cutting, has a good theoretical basis, but that it was impractical to carry out.
As we have seen, it has been claimed that Carton de Colombia's operation of the concession caused serious damage to the ecosystem of Bajo Calima, resulting in a great and probably irreparable loss of biodiversity. This is all the more tragic as the area in question is, as we have seen, part of a region unique in the world in terms of its biodiversity.
The environmental lawyer Borrero-Navia (1992) in his condemnation of Carton de Colombia's exploitation of the area pointed out that ‘to destroy the tropical rainforest of Bajo Calima is to kill off one of the principal lungs of the planet, a cradle of the greatest plant and animal biodiversity in the world and a shelter for various Colombian indigenous communities." He also claimed that the intervention of Carton de Colombia in the forests of Bajo Calima was "incompatible with the characteristics of complexity, fragility and high biodiversity of the tropical rainforest" and was "an unsustainable model of exploitation which has become ecocide." In addition he maintained that forestry concessions in the tropical rainforests of the Colombian Pacific generally do not seem to be sustainable in character.
Indeed, there is considerable doubt among the scientific community at the present time as to whether timber extraction from native tropical forests can ever be ecologically sustainable. As Gentry, (cited in by Borrero-Navia, 1992) says: "Even if all goes according to plan and the system results in a sustainable harvest, that part of the value of the forest which resides in its biodiversity and those specific properties of the multitude of species, is sacrificed."
But as Ladrach and Wright (1995) admitted: "resource values other than timber are often ignored when logging concessions are designed." Unfortunately, the Bajo Calima concession seems to have been a case in point.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.4 (b) Failure by Carton de Colombia to monitor or control the activities of colonists
As we have seen, Smurfit Carton de Colombia blames colonists for the destruction of the forests of the concession area and furthermore, insists that the damage was done after the concession was terminated in 1993.
This latter assertion is contradicted by at least two independent sources. As noted previously, the study carried out by the University of Tolima in 1987 and the report of Collazos to the government of Valle in 1990 both describe the forests as being already seriously damaged.
While it is clear that colonists have indeed contributed to some extent to the damage, it is not certain what proportion of the damage can be directly attributed to their activities and what proportion is due to the clear-cut harvesting method used by Carton de Colombia.
Another matter for consideration is the extent of Carton de Colombia's responsibility for the activities of colonists, as these colonists were attracted to the area in the first place by the presence of Carton de Colombia and their entry to the forest only made possible by the logging roads built by the company (Fundación Trópico, 1997).
The company seems however to have been unwilling or unable to control the colonists. According to Fundación Trópico (1997) ‘the company neither established mechanisms to prevent, nor at least mitigate the effects of the arrival of colonists produced by their presence", while Buschbacher (cited in Goodland, 1990) states: "Company control efforts have been either lax or ineffective" and ‘the fact that unharvested portions of the concession that did not have logging roads were not invaded illustrates the role of accessibility in promoting chronic disturbance."
A research paper co-authored by Smurfit Carton de Colombia's director of forest research describes the damage done by some colonists and admits the company's inability to deal with them (Ladrach and Wright, 1995). It does, however, contain an interesting recommendation as to how the problem might be dealt with, suggesting that the activities of colonists might be regulated by promoting the management of certain parts of the natural regeneration for pole production rather than pulpwood, and licensing pole cutting in these areas. However, it is admitted that there might be difficulties in implementing such a scheme.
Also, the paper seems to have been written no earlier than 1992, the year in which Smurfit Carton de Colombia announced their intention of giving up the concession. Whether this idea was ever seriously considered during the time of the concession is unknown; it was certainly never implemented.
When we asked the company why they had made no attempt to control the colonists we were told that they did not consider it to be their responsibility, because Carton de Colombia did not own the land; it was only a concession.LIST OF CONTENTS
2.3.4 (c) Failure by Carton de Colombia to consult the local community
The people of the region were never consulted by Carton de Colombia in relation to their needs or wishes either prior to or during the concession, which, as has been noted, brought about drastic changes over which they had no control. The company seems to have given no proper consideration at any time to the social, economic or cultural consequences of their activities. For example, regarding the introduction of money into the community, Fundación Trópico (1997) stated: ‘the company did not bear in mind the fact that money represented a new social and cultural reality for which the agent of change must design a strategy directed towards the prevention of the negative results which ensued."
Having brought about a situation where the local community had become totally economically dependent on them, Carton de Colombia than left the area without any proper consideration of the damage done to the community or how it might be repaired. According to Fundación Trópico: ‘the company never considered any kind of strategy which allowed a reconversion towards stable economics based on traditional systems of production or on the evaluation and incorporation of new alternatives which started from the local social, cultural, economic and environmental reality in order to guarantee their efficiency."
When the concession was terminated in 1993, a final report was drawn up produced jointly by Ecoforest Ltd., Fonade (El Fondo Financiero de Proyectos de Desarrollo) and Pulpapel (Carton de Colombia). However, to deal with the socio-economic aspects of the concession, only a lawyer was employed. No anthropologist, sociologist or other appropriately qualified expert was used (Broderick, 1998).
Smurfit Carton de Colombia claims to have carried out several projects beneficial to the communities of Bajo Calima during the time of the concession, through their social foundation. This foundation was created to promote programs of community benefit in areas where the company operates. However as usual, the community was not consulted about these projects.
Carton de Colombia claimed that they provided roads, schools, gardens, an aqueduct, health education and electrification for the region.
However according to local people, most of the roads built were cul-de-sacs branching off from already existing roads and going a few kilometres into the jungle, constructed merely to facilitate access by company vehicles to the logging areas. They were therefore of no use whatsoever to the community. Indeed, since these roads facilitated the entry of colonists who came to cut wood in the wake of the company workers, these same roads could be said to have contributed to damaging the area. Nevertheless, there were some roads built by Carton de Colombia for public use, but it is claimed that these are in a state of serious deterioration (Community Council, 1998; Broderick, 1998).
Carton de Colombia also claimed that they built five schools in the region. However, according to the Community Council of Bajo Calima, the building of four of the schools was never completed, nor were they provided with the necessary educational materials (Community Council, 1998).
The company was also involved in the construction of an aqueduct which was to provide safe drinking water for the people of the region. However the aqueduct never worked and the people of Bajo Calima are still drinking dirty water from the river (Broderick, 1998).
According to the Community Council of Bajo Calima, in ‘san Isidro, one of the areas most affected by the concession, no works of benefit to the community were carried out."
In the words of Fundación Trópico (1997): ‘the projects of community benefit promoted by the company have been characterised by being transitory and have never generated stable processes tending to favour community self management."
Most damning of all, according to the final report on the concession, financed by Smurfit Carton de Colombia themselves, it was admitted that ". . . not withstanding the efforts made by Pulpapel S.A. . . in the area of the concession there have not been significant social advances in the region, nor noticeable developments in areas related to quality of life" Broderick, 1998).
When we asked Smurfit Carton de Colombia why they never consulted the people of Bajo Calima, we were told: "it was not required; we operate within the law." Unfortunately this is an attitude which has been all too prevalent in the history of Bajo Calima; it seems that there has been a general problem of lack of consultation with the people of the region by government and non-government groups alike (Fundación Trópico, 1997; Broderick, 1998).
Nevertheless, considering the enormity of the impact of the company on the life of the local communities and the fact that Smurfit Carton de Colombia is a company which claims to "improve the standard of living in the communities where Smurfit Carton de Colombia operates", we must conclude that by failing to consult the people of Bajo Calima before, during or on ending the concession, either in relation to the impact of their logging operations on the community, or on the suitability of the social projects which they attempted to implement, or on the impact of their abrupt departure on the economy of the area, Carton de Colombia seems to have betrayed its own stated principles and failed in its moral responsibility to the people of Bajo Calima.LIST OF CONTENTS
We conclude that whatever the merits or demerits of Carton de Colombia's methods of harvesting the forests, the presence of the company in Bajo Calima during the 19 years of the concussion contributed, directly and indirectly, to a serious deterioration in the quality of life of the local community and the widespread destruction of their environment. This is beyond dispute, attested to both by the community itself and by independent scientific reports.
We consider therefore that Smurfit Carton de Colombia has a moral responsibility to repair the damage done to both the community and the forests of Bajo Calima.
Smurfit Carton de Colombia prides itself on being a company which promotes sustainable development, defined as a form of development which "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". In addition the mission statement of Smurfit Carton de Colombia's social foundation states that their aim is ‘to improve the standard of living in the communities where Smurfit Carton de Colombia operates, through programs . ..that permit the self development of the communities."
If these statements are a sincere expression of the aspirations of the company, then something went terribly wrong with Smurfit Carton de Colombia's intervention in Bajo Calima. The misery, hunger and wretched poverty of the people of the area is a bitter testimony to that fact, as is the ruined and degraded state of the forests.
As the Community Council of Bajo Calima says:
‘the magnitude of the damage caused ...was immensely greater than the benefits brought by the company. At the passing of Smurfit Carton de Colombia our conditions of quality of life were terribly impaired, and the environment destroyed."
They go on to say:
"we demand that Smurfit Carton de Colombia compensate us and contribute the resources necessary for the recovery of the area. We hope that our rights are respected.
We call upon Smurfit to do just that.
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THE CORPORACIÓN REGIONAL QUINDÍO
The CRQ is the CorporacionRegional de Quindío (Regional Corporation of Quindío) and is the highest environmental authority in the department of Quindío. It is not alone in this. There are regional corporations in all departments and they are charged with the safeguarding of the environment and regulation of the use and exploitation of the natural resources. The CRQ has one director and three sub directors as well as a twelve person council. We visited the CRQ along with representatives of SCC and one representative of the Jefferson Smurfit Group in Ireland, Mr Jim Fitzharris. We had a long interview with the three subdirectors and the director.
We found a number of things to be lacking with the CRQ, namely that they do not require an environmental/social impact study (as understood in Ireland) to be carried out before giving a license to exploit natural resources or plant pine and eucalyptus plantations. They content themselves with management plans presented by the company. Further, for an institute that is obliged to safeguard the environment of 1800 square km, it is woefully understaffed, having only three people to carry out inspections. Given the size of the area and the difficult terrain one would have thought that they would have more inspectors. Their ability to monitor the plans presented to them must be limited as a result.
The CRQ has shown itself to be unwilling to curb the power and extension of the large forestry companies. Indeed in our interview with them, they considered the commercial pine and eucalyptus plantations to be advantageous to the region and had expressed no doubts about their benefits and effects. In some recent disputes between SCC and the municipal and regional governments the CRQ has taken the side of these very same paper companies. One would have to ask oneself why? Surely, the highest environmental authority in the department would oppose the presence of such companies if they were damaging the environment. However, the CRQ is not neutral. Although it has a duty to safeguard the environment it has a conflict of interests. The CRQ as an entity has shares in a forestry company called Bosquin S.A and as such benefits directly from an industry it is supposed to regulate. As of November 1998 (the time of our visit) the CRQ still had these shares. Its director Dr Alba Ines Pareja claimed that they had tried to sell the shares but had not met with much success. It seems extraordinary that nobody would buy shares in a company that participates in what is a very profitable industry. Whatever the truth of the matter, the fact is that they had the shares in the first place. Further, as we pointed out at our meeting not only do the CRQ have shares in Bosquin S.A but the Sub-Director for Environmental Quality, Gustavo Jaramillo has his own plantation. Dr Pareja pointed out to us that this was not illegal under Colombian law. She missed the point however, that there is a clear conflict of interests between the CRQ and Gustavo Jaramillo's role as protectors of the environment and their participation in the industry they regulate. They both are entitled to receive the generous subsidies that the government gives to such companies and any regulation of the CRQ or municipal government that curbed the activities of these companies would directly hit the CRQ's finances and also those of Sr. Jaramillo.
While we were there we requested copies of three forestry management plans that SCC had presented to the CRQ, as all these documents are in the public domain. We called back the following week to collect them only to be told that they were not ready. We left a forwarding address in Calarcá to which they were never sent despite assurances that they would be.
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THE PEOPLE'S REPRESENTATIVES OPPOSE PLANTATIONS
One might ask, where then is the opposition to Smurfit? Is it just small ecological groups concerned with protecting the environment? Nothing could be further from the truth. At various times over the last number of years various elected bodies such as the municipal governments of Calarcá and Salento along with the regional assemblies of the departments of Risaralda and Quindío have expressed their opposition to and concern with the way in which forestry is carried out in Colombia.
The Regional Assembly of Quindío approved Ordinance 015 of the 18th of November 1992, which sought to protect the environment by "prohibiting the planting of conifers in the areas of the nature reserve of the river Quindío basin." However, one of the most prestigious constitutional lawyers in the country Luís Carlos Sáchica appealed to the Sala De Lo Contencioso Aministrativo. He won in the second instance. It is worth pausing to take look at why he won. In the first instance the courts said that in "One can't forget that Colombia is a country in which common interest prevails over individual interest (art 10 National Constitution) in which it is obligatory to protect the natural resources of the Nation (art 80 N.C) and in which one must protect the integrity of the environment conserving those areas of special ecological importance and foment education to achieve such ends (art 79 N.C)." In the second instance the judge also agreed that economic freedom was not absolute. However the right to place limits on this did not "belong to the Departmental Assemblies" and that defence of the environment was the responsibility of the "Regional Autonomous Corporations and the Ministry of the Environment."
This indeed is the crux of the matter: who has the power to legislate in environmental matters? The above mentioned authorities which are said to have such power have preferred to shoot down legislation emanating from municipal governments and regional assemblies on such grounds rather than actually look at the substance of the resolutions. So the CRQ (an entity which is not neutral) has chosen to ignore attempts to protect the environment and indeed has sided with the forestry companies in their legal battles against the municipal governments.
This was the case when the municipal government of Calarcá (in QuindÌo department) also tried to limit the activities of the forestry companies. Agreement 003 of 1997 "through which the water resources and soils within the municipality are protected" was also overturned by S·chica who was working directly on behalf of SCC. The CRQ also opposed this Agreement. As pointed out before they have a stake in this particular industry.
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The municipality of Salento has also seen itself do battle against the encroachment of pine and eucalyptus plantations. The dispute concerns its attempt to declare certain areas to be of public interest and set up a consultative and assesory council to whom any person wishing to carry out forestry would have to present a management plan. This resolution placed SCC in conflict with the municipality of Salento over an area known as Las Alegrias. The CRQ gave permission to SCC to plant land with pine in the micro watershed of Cruz Gorda alleging that Agreement 065 which declared it to be of special interest had been derogated by Agreement 078. This was true, but 078 also declared "all watersheds, micro watersheds and tributaries from which water is taken for the municipal water supply" to be of public interest. This was apparently lost on the CRQ.
Agreement 078 was challenged in the courts not by SCC but by an individual acting in her own name much the same way as Sáchica did in his case against the Assembly of Quindío. However, this time it was the municipality that won the day. The judge said that the CRQ did not have exclusive powers in relation to the environment and that some of the territorial entities had certain powers in relation to this also. So agreement 078 was in force. The court found in favour of Salento on the 29th of July 1998. When we asked Victor Giraldo Vice President of SCC about this he denied all knowledge of this court finding. He couldn't do any different, after all his company was in clear violation of the this Agreement which now had the full force of the law beyond any doubt. Other SCC officials went further to declare that there never was an Agreement declaring the watersheds to be of interest public. We were then standing in the area of Las Alegrias and in the process of visiting said watersheds.LIST OF CONTENTS
4.3 The Role of The CRQ in the Dispute with Salento
Agreement 078 caused some friction between the CRQ and the municipality of Salento. Representations were made to the CRQ by ecologists from Fundación Herencia Verde complaining about the CRQ's decision to allow SCC to plant in the watershed of Cruz Gorda. The response of the Director General Alba Ines Pareja was typical. In her response of the 31/3/1998 ref. 0750 she first attacked what she alleged were imprecisions in the formulation of the Agreement and then went on to say that the Agreement was itself not in compliance with various aspects of the environmental code. She seemed more concerned with nit picking over who had the authority to make decisions rather than the actual decisions. She did say however, that in relation to the detrimental affects of the plantation of pine in the watershed that "neither the Corporation nor any environmental organisation has a scientific and technical document that gives credit with marked objectivity and evidence to such an assertion and until such time as the opposite is proven, the CRQ as a state body must act in conformity with the present duly established legal regime." If we accept such an argument we can presume that whether the particular plantation in Las Alegrias is in doubt i.e neither side can prove beyond doubt their case. If this were so the law 99 of 1993 is quite clear Article 1. says that "The formulation of environmental policy will be based on the conclusions of scientific investigation. Nevertheless, the environmental authorities and individuals will apply the principal of precaution...the lack of absolute scientific certainty must not be used as a reason to postpone the adoption of measures to impede the degradation of the environment". However, as we have said before this entity can not be considered to be neutral due to its participation in the same industry and again were it to err on the side of precaution it may find its finances to be affected by its own decisions.
Other state entities which have no known links to the forestry industry were much more forthcoming on the issue. The Contraloria General del Departamento del Quindío (Controller General of the Department of Quindío) carried out an inspection of the Las Alegrias area 27/3/98 ref M.A 012 and found that there were pines planted very near and in some cases in the wetlands themselves. We were able to confirm this.
The Controller General went further than just finding the trees. It made a series of recommendations to the CRQ namely to comply with article 31 of law 99/93 which exhorts the regional corporations to "Exercise the functions of evaluation, environmental control and follow up of ... activities, projects or factors that generate or could generate environmental deterioration" which they evidently had not done given that they did not seem concerned about trees planted in the wetlands or the application of Roundup in the same wetlands. It recommended to the municipality that it "Coordinate and lead, with assessment from the regional autonomous corporations, the permanent activities of control and environmental vigilance in the municipality" and that it "protect the constitutional right to a healthy environment" (no 6 & 7 of art 31 law 99/93).
So far, we have the Controller General and the courts recognizing that the municipality has certain functions in relation to the environment. They also have rights in relation to the use of soils. Nos 7 & 9 of Art 313 of the National Constitution state quite clearly that it is function of municipal councils to "Regulate the uses given to the soil"(No 7) and "Dictate the necessary norms for the control preservation and defence of ecological and cultural heritage of the municipality" (No 9). The Constitution goes further and says in Art 79 that "The law will guarantee the participation of the community in decisions that may affect it". Agreement 078/97 gave effect to this particular article.
It is quite clear that CRQ did not comply with its functions in giving permission to plant in the wetlands. It is further clear that in deciding to ignore Agreement 078 the CRQ was usurping functions that were not theirs. Whether a municipal agreement is legally valid or not is a decision for other authorities to which the CRQ could have had recourse. However, they chose not to. Nevertheless, the Agreement was referred to the courts which ratified the validity of the Agreement. When we visited Las Alegrias, over three months after the court's decision the Agreement had not been complied with. The attitude of the highest environmental authority in all of this affair helps explain why SCC has had so little opposition from government bodies. They (CRQ) have chosen to defend the companies rather than defend the environment. Although we have dealt here with the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Quindío, there is no reason to presume that it is alone in its attitude. The Regional Autonomous Corporation of Valle de Cauca which has responsibility for the area of Bajo Calima recently refused to allow the launch of the book El Imperio de Cartonto take place on its property.LIST OF CONTENTS
4.4 Trouble Over The Horizon
The Departmental Assembly of Risaralda passed a motion in October 1998 calling on the "Departmental Government to suspend the policy of pine and eucalyptus until such time that investigations are carried out that can establish the environmental, social and economic benefits of those species." Although this motion, should it be acted upon by the Governor, would be in complete conformity with Art 1 of law 99/93 in erring on the side of caution, it would probably be challenged in the courts. In such circumstances, the environment would once more be in the hands of the courts.LIST OF CONTENTS
THE PERSECUTION OF NESTOR OCAMPO
Smurfit Carton de Colombia, like any company which sees itself and its practices criticised so often both at a national and international level, has sought to defend its reputation. One of the methods that they have used is the courts. One such case is that of Nestor Ocampo. Nestor Ocampo is the director of the Fundación Ecologica Cosmos based in Calarcá and has opposed the operations of the forestry companies for many years.
On the 11th of August 1993 Nestor Ocampo sent an open letter to the CRQ in which he denounced SCC, accusing them of having provoked uncontrolled fires on land belonging to SCC. These fires had extended from the plantation to the natural forest. He further accused the company of felling a good part of the native vegetation that was in the zone of the fires. However, not only did he accuse them of burning native vegetation, he also accused them of having felled native forest in order to plant pine and eucalyptus trees. He lamented the constant advance of pine and eucalyptus monocultures and the disappearance of native forest and also the drying up of the water basins. He asked the CRQ as the highest environmental authority in the department to intervene in the affair. Needless to say, they did intervene. They carried out an investigation which exonerated SCC of all responsibility and even praised them for their efforts to control the forest fire. A later report on the same fire resulted in SCC being fined, overturning the original decision.
However, a number of articles had also been published in regional newspapers echoing the concerns and accusations of the above mentioned open letter. SCC however, decided to take things one step further and they denounced Nestor Ocampo before the courts, not satisfied with their temporary victory with the CRQ. The open letter was public and there was a need for the public to be convinced of the inaccuracy of the allegations. This strategy backfired on SCC. Not only did they lose the case once but lost it twice (on appeal).
The judge in the Penal Municipal court refused to open criminal proceedings against Nestor Ocampo and archived the case. On appeal the second judge in the Circuit Court stated that "events denounced (by Ocampo) are true as are their consequences."
In SCC's presentation to the courts they alluded to the guerrilla movements in Colombia in a manner which was, given the terrible human rights record of Colombia, ill considered. They said of Nestor Ocampo's complaints that "this type of false information can constitute a culture medium for subversives that could easily embed itself in our haven of peace and begin to attack a company that is through its seriousness, dynamism and projection giving a clear example of what can be done in Quindío when there is a will to work and common criteria."(Denunciation presented on behalf of Roberto Silva Salamanca, for SCC). The allusion to the guerrillas was unnecessary for the purposes of the court case and was intimidatory, in that in Colombia most sensible people would rather keep quiet than risk being mentioned in the same breath as the guerillas in a court, for fear of being targetted by paramilitaries.
However, Nestor Ocampo continued on and was vindicated by the courts. The judge said of him that the events denounced were true. This was an important victory for the ecological movement in Colombia. When we spoke to SCC about this they tried to wrest importance from the court case claiming still that they didn't do what Ocampo accused them of. LIST OF CONTENTS
THE DISPUTE WITH THE PAEZ INDIANS
The Paez arrived in La Paila in 1912. Other Paez arrived in later periods, particularly the 1950s, fleeing the political unrest which has gone down in Colombian history simply as "The Violence". Such was the scale of the violence in that period that no other name would do. It was also a time when many lost their land to unscrupulous landlords at gun point and many more were displaced.
The Paez who arrived in the area of La Paila organised their own governorship (cabildo) in 1974, which was eventually recognised in 1984. By the time the Paez governorship was recognised Carton de Colombia had already acquired land in the area. The Paez claimed the land as forming part of their territory, but they were ignored by the multi-national. When Smurfit bought the Container Corporation in 1986 it also bought Carton de Colombia which was a subidiary of the Container Corporation (in turn owned by Mobil). However, the new owners did not give in to the Paez either. In 1985 the Paez made an application to the agrarian reform institute, Incora, for the establishment of a reservation in the area. Incora took 8 years to decide in favour of the reservation. In fact the Paez had to appeal to the courts to force Incora's hand, which had delayed the adoption of a decision on the case.
While waiting for Incora to decide, the Paez adopted other tactics such as the invasion and occupation of the disputed lands. They had first invaded the farm known as El Diamante in 1981. Their new occupations brought with them consequences. They were on a number of occasions forced off the land by the police and army. The Paez also claim that SCC employees took part in these evictions and helped uproot crops and burn houses. It is difficult to ascertain whether these allegations against SCC employees are true. The company has denied this and rejected all such allegations. However, what is true is that they were physically evicted. In 1993 the Paez even went as far as to denounce the municipal ombudsman. They claimed that he had verbally and physically abused some Paez when he went to inspect the damage that the Paez claimed had been caused by Agroforestal-El Naya. It should be pointed out that many of these allegations were repeated to us on the visit we made to La Paila and in some cases we could clearly see the scars left by these attacks, from what the Paez claimed were employees of SCC or Agroforestal. From 1985 onwards the Paez had managed to hold on to one of the farms (El Diamante) where their governor lived. They are still in occupation of this land to day. Clearly, the Paez were not going to give in to SCC. It was time for other tactics by SCC.
In 1990 Smurfit Carton de Colombia ‘suspended forestry activity in the region" which resulted in ‘the economy of the area being seriously affected, causing a general stagnation: unemployment, insecurity, robberies, looting and the migration of the people to other regions." Later having provoked this desperate situation and having allowed the population to suffer for a while Smurfit Carton de Colombia proceeded to come up with an ingenious solution to restore prosperity to the zone. (Broderick,1998:115)
The solution was to sell the land to a company called Agroforestal-El Naya. The Paez had been out maneuvered. The arrangement with this new company which would manage the forests was similar to a proposal the Paez Indians had made to SCC. They had proposed that they be given the land and that they would come to an arrangement with SCC in relation to the trees. This move by SCC was in advance of the new Colombian constitution that would afford a new status and recognition to all Indians. In fact art 330 states that the exploitation of natural resources in indigenous areas could not be done if it damaged the culture or socio - economic integrity of the Indians and that the Indians' representatives would be given a voice in such decisions.
By the time the Indians got their reservation in 1993 the land had been sold to Agroforestal. They did not give up their battle though. Incora recognised, after much delay, various farms as forming the reservation. These did not include the lands they had asked for and what is more they were not contiguous. They continued to fight on against SCC and Agroforestal. LIST OF CONTENTS
6.2 El Diamante
It is often claimed by SCC that the problem in La Paila has nothing to do with them as they sold the land in question to Agroforestal - El Naya. Even if we were to accept their argument in relation to the setting up of the said company and subsequent sale of the land, we would have to bear in mind the farm El Diamante. El Diamante was not sold to anyone and SCC still remains the legal owner of the land. Although the Indians have occupied the land since the mid 1980's they are not the legal owners of it, nor does it form part of their reservation legally constituted in 1993. In relation to this particular farm the responsibility lies directly with SCC which has chosen not to give this land to the Indians allowing them to legally incorporate it into the reservation.
6.3 Agroforestal - El Naya
Agroforestal is a legally constituted company set up in 1991. There is no doubt that it is a legally separate company from SCC with its own board and members. However, the point is, to what extent is Agroforestal a really truly independent company capable, should they desire, of carrying out policies and activities different to those of SCC or even against their interests? In order to evaluate this, we must first look at the various contracts to which both companies are signatories. In these contracts SCC appears under the name of its subsidiaries, Reforestadora Andina and Pulpapel. The sale of the land was carried out by Reforestadora Andina and it is also the entity that agrees the mortage for the sale of the land. The second contract is a joint venture contract between Pulpapel and Agroforestal which deals with the trees planted by Reforestadora Andina on the land,which was not covered by the sale agreement.LIST OF CONTENTS
6.4 Sale- Mortgage Contract
The land was sold to Agroforestal for the sum of 136 million pesos with two percent interest accruing per month (inflation runs at over 20% per year). This sum of money was to be paid off in twelve annual payments of 11.333 million pesos per year. In November 1998, six years into the contract, the company Agroforestal had managed to pay off some 12 million pesos. According to the contract the first payments shall go towards the interest accrued and not the capital. However, the problem with this contract is not so much that the peasants who form Agroforestal are not able to pay the money owed but that the contract leaves them in a very dependent position in relation to SCC. Reforestadora Andina can cancel the contract for a number of reasons amongst which are the usual clauses of non payment of interest or capital due. They also allow them to cancel the contract if Agroforestal is going through a bad or difficult economic situation "in the opinion of the mortage creditor" which is Reforestadora Andina or if the assets (i.e the land) "are no longer sufficient guarantee to cover the outstanding obligations". Both of these clauses are "in the opinion" of SCC, in other words they decide whether Agroforestal can meet its obligations or whether the land can still cover the debts due. They are also forbidden to sell the lands without the "express written permission of the mortage creditor". All in all, SCC can decide when to terminate the contract and to whom Agroforestal can sell the land should SCC not want to buy it back (they also have first refusal). It should be noted that because Agroforestal has not kept up with payments on the sale of the land it is already in default and is now subject to the whim of SCC as to whether the contract should be cancelled or not.LIST OF CONTENTS
6.5 Joint Venture Contract
One year after the sale of the land, another Smurfit subsiduary, Pulpapel, signed a joint venture contract with Aroforestal in relation to the trees that were on the land at the time of the sale. This contract further eroded Agroforestal's effective independence of SCC.
The second clause of this contract says "As at present there are on said lands plantations which are the property of Reforestadora Andina. The Proprietor (Agroforestal) will hand over to the Gestor (Pulpapel) the assets described and outlined in the previous clause (the lands) ... As Reforestadora Andina harvests its commercial forests...The handover from the Proprietor to the Gestor is as tenant.
What this clause is saying is that Agroforestal, which has just bought the land from one Smurfit subsidiary, agrees to give another subsiduary the rights of tenant on the land. No payment for the right of tenancy is mentioned. There is however, provision expressly made for the share of the profit on the crop of wood obtained from the forest which is 25% for Agroforestal and 75% for Pulpapel. Further, in the 22nd clause Agroforestal allows Reforestadora Andina to unilaterally use the trees, which are the subject of the joint venture, as guarantee capital for any loan that Reforestadora Andina seeks from the government for forestry activities. The peasants of Agroforestal need not be consulted on this, even though it is a joint venture and they stand to lose 25% of the product of the plantation should anything go wrong.
The peasants of Agroforestal are tied to this contract, they can not just walk away from it. Two clauses in the contract deal with this and show quite clearly the limitations placed on Agroforestal. Clause 21 of the contract states "In the case of the non fulfillment of this contract by Agroforestal the Gestor may demand the cancellation of the contract or its fulfillment" plus an indemnity "equal to the value of the investment made by the Gestor (adjusted for inflation), plus 30% of this amount or the value of the trees that are left, whichever is greater...If the Gestor does not comply with the contract, the value of the idemnity to be paid to the proprietor shall be the trees that are left."
Apart from the fact that the two indemnities are different, the one being paid to Reforestadora Andina seems to be far more generous, as this clause basically prevents Agroforestal from walking away because they could be held to be in non compliance with the contract and could find themselves landed with an even bigger debt. Clause 23 goes further and states that "If during the validity of this contract the proprietory society dissolves its members, creditors cannot consider the contract to have finished and will continue to have the same rights and obligations that the Proprietor had until the date in which this contract is terminated." SCC's lawyer explained to us that this means that the individual peasants who would be given a corresponding share of land in the event of the dissolution of the company would continue with the same rights and obligations; that the contract would then be with each one of them on an individual basis. We pointed out that one of the reasons for dissolving the society could be bankruptcy and that this contract does not recognise the right of Agroforestal to declare themselves bankrupt. It binds them to the contract come hell or high water.
Furthermore, should they sell the land to a third party (with Reforestadora's permission) and this third party fails to arrive at an agreement with Reforestadora Andina, Agroforestal will be liable to pay the indemnity previously mentioned.
Agroforestal are further limited by clause 19 which states "Differences or controversies which arise in relation to this contract will be resolved by a tribunal of arbitration designated by the Cali Chamber of Commerce" in accordance with the relevant laws. Here Agroforestal has given up its right to have recourse to a court of law. It would seem to us that the courts are more likely to show some independence in a dispute between a group of peasants and a major multi- national than the Chamber of Commerce would.
There are further clauses in which Agroforestal cedes its rights to Reforestadora Andina in relation to road contruction, conditions for the sale of the land etc. However, as can be seen, the above mentioned clauses give SCC a certain degree of control and pressure on Agroforestal. With the two contracts SCC retains effective control over the land (in fact it is referred to as a tenant) and can continue to manage the forest as it did before. The joint venture contract states that the contract is for 25 years but in reality it shall be such time as is needed for the exploitation of the forests. Given that they can replant after the harvest this could be a very long time indeed and should they need to they can annul the contract due to the non compliance of Agroforestal with the contract.
SCC told us that they had not made effective the clauses in the sale contract that dealt with non compliance because they are happy with the work of Agroforestal to date. So they should be; they have managed to deflect public attention in the land dispute from themselves to Agroforestal. They can furthermore claim the land back at anytime due to the non compliance of Agroforestal with the contract. Meanwhile they have a workforce which is independent of them and to which they have no responsiblity save that of a monthly payment as an advance on the product of the forests. This indeed seems to be the only thing the peasants get out of it - a monthly wage, which is not bad , but the supposed object of the sale was to make them landowners, not wage earners unable to walk away from the company should they decide to do so.LIST OF CONTENTS
Relations between the trade unions in Smurfit Carton de Colombia and management have been quite tense in the last number of years. The trade union Sintracarcol claims that they have had difficulties in negotiating collective agreements for their members and that the union has been harrassed by management. Disputes between the two parts have spilled over into the courts. Various cases have been taken in relation to sackings and there have also been a number of penal suits brought against the company and the trade union. Although it must be said that the union claims that it has always preferred to wash dirty linen within the strucures of the company but that this has proved to be impossible in some cases. LIST OF CONTENTS
7.1 Penal Cases
The prosecutor's office in the town of Yumbo, where SCC has its headquarters, opened penal proceedings against a number of trade unionists including Francisco Rueda the president of Sintracarcol in the Cali region. The basis of the proceedings are an anonymous trrade union bulletin which supposedly divulged information which was not in the public realm and proper only to SCC. The bulletin at the centre of the dispute did nothing more than compare the salaries of the directors of SCC with those of the workers. Needless to say there was a big difference and SCC were not happy with these details being the subject of discussion amongst their employees. The details of the salaries paid to the directors are hardly secret; after all SCC publishes a list of all payments made to directors in the minutes of the AGM. For example in the minutes of the AGM held in Yumbo on the 13th of March 1997, page number 1571 quite clearly gives a list of the payments made to fourteen directors which came to the sum of 3,167,754,978 pesos (roughly 2.6 million dollars at that time). What really annoyed SCC is that workers in their plant were made aware that Roberto Silva and Victor Giraldo(president and vice president respectively) received the sums of 453,621,263 and 351,735,281 (US $ 378,,000 and US $ 293,,000 ) respectively, which compares very unfavourably with the salaries they receive. In November when we visited the plant, workers were being paid between 12,336 and 36,589 pesos per day. (At the exchange rate of the time some 8 to 25 dollars a day and it must be borne in mind that the figures for the workers are for the year after the year for the director's salaries. Inflation runs at 20% per year and so the director's salaries would presumbly increase by 20%). However, despite the fact that every shareholder received a copy of these figures SCC decided in its penal prosecution to charge the trade unionists with divulging reserved information.
This was not the first penal case brought against trade unionists. On the 31/1/1997 a meeting was held of the salaries commission with representatives of SCC and Sintracarcol present. On the same day Edgar Roberto Muñoz SCC's lawyer denounced Francisco Rueda accusing of making death threats against the company in the meeting. It is important to bear in mind that there were no minutes taken of the meeting that could back up such an accusation. The result is that the President of the union in Cali is now out on bail in relation to the above charges. It is impossible for a union to function properly with such accusations hanging over the head of its leaders. Given the drastic human rights situation that exists in Colombia such accusations should not be made lightly lest they inadvertently place the lives of innocent people in danger. Arising out of these accusations the Prosecutors office raided Francisco Rueda's home as well as the offices of Sintracarcol. The trade union's work is further hampered by the fact that these cases have not been dealt with quickly by the prosecutor's office. The bulletin at the centre of this row was published in 1993. Meanwhile SCC can quite accurately say that the trade union leaders are the subject of criminal prosecution a fact that both diminishes their stature in the work place and can also serve as a deterrent to workers joining the union.
Sintracarcol has been quite a successful union both in terms of negotiating terms and conditions of employment and also in bringing cases against the company for violation of labour laws. In February 1997 the Minstry of Labour fined SCC for improper use of aprentices in a case brought by the union Sintracarcol. The case was brought by Hector Arturo Alderete, a trade union leader who was sacked the following year along with five other trade union leaders.LIST OF CONTENTS
The union has claimed that it has suffered from systematic harrassment of it members. It claims that over 100 trade unionists have been sacked in the last number of years and that other workers have been pressurised into leaving the union. Whatever the truth about such claims it is indisputable that trade union afiliation has gone down, as witnessed in the reports of the Labour Inspector Ana Beatriz Vasquez de Parra. She carried out two censi of trade union affiliation in 1995 and 1997 and found that the numbers of afiliates had gone down from 569 to 478. It is possible that some of this is due to people retiring or leaving the company for a variety of reasons as the censi referred to also recorded a drop in the number of workers employed directly by SCC. (This drop in the figures could also be explained by an increase in the use of sub contractors, which are frequently used in SCC. However, the union has claimed that many trade unionists have been sacked). It is impossible for us to say that the drop in trade union affiliation is entirely due to sackings but we can demonstrate that SCC has unjustly sacked trade unionists and what's more they have admitted as much.
Under Colombian labour law there are two modes of dismissal. There are dismissals without just cause and dismissals with just cause. Dismissals without just cause are those where the employer suspends the contract unilaterally without claiming to have any particular reason to do so. These dismissals are compensated economically by the employer. Article 66 of the labour code specifically prohibits the employer from presenting motives afterwards that did not figure at the time of the sacking. SCC's lawyer explained to us that a number of the dismissal notices that we held in our possession which did not give any reason for the sacking were dismissals without just cause for which he, in compliance with the law, declined to offer any justification. In other words they were sacked for no good reason. Between January and October 1998 seven trade unionists, with between six and seventeen years service, were sacked without just cause. In the same period four people renounced their membership of the trade union.
Sackings with just cause are, however, not necessarily justified. It only means that the company has seen fit to give a reason which it considers valid motive for dismissal. Such cases can be challenged in the courts. On 5th of May 1998 five trade unionists were sacked including the president of the union in Cali and other members of the union's leadership at both national and local level. The reasons for the sacking were principally that they had allegedly blocked the entrance to the plant at 2.00 P.M on the 29th of April preventing the free movement of workers, clients and suppliers. The union claim that all they were doing was holding a meeting where they were informing workers of developments in the plant. We asked Victor Giraldo about the president of the trade union. The following is a record of the conversation:
Gearóid: The President of the trade union doesn't work in this plant, does he?
V.G: No, he doesn't
Gearóid: Where is he?
V.G Oh, I don't now he could be in another plant or maybe he got another job.
Gearóid: No, he didn't , you sacked him.
V.G: That case is subjudice and I can't comment on it.
The attempt to take advantage of our presumed ignorance on the matter is comment enough. Furthermore under Colombian law trade union leaders enjoy what is known as Fuero Sindical. This is a provision in both the Colombian constitution and the labour code which gives protection from dismissal to worker's representatives. It does not mean that they cannot be sacked under any circumstances. The code quite clearly states in Article 405 that those who enjoy Fuero Sindical "cannot be dismissed without just cause... previously established by a labour Judge". This was not done. SCC did not seek permission from a judge to procede with the sacking. Had they been able to prove just cause they could have done so by simply presenting their case to the courts and the courts would, if they found in their favour, have simply removed the right they enjoyed under Fuero Sindical. That they did not comply with this regulation is not only illegal but must also cast considerable doubt on the veracity of the claims made against the trade unionists. In fact the Minstry of Labour continues to recognise the sacked union leaders as the worker's representatives and in resolution No. 012 DR of the 8th of January they reconfirmed this on appeal from SCC and reconfirmed the fine of 50 minimum salaries imposed on the company by the ministry, for violation of the labour code Article 405 which deals with Fuero Sindical.
SCC also sacked other trade unionists on the 21st of May 1998. They gave what they claimed was just cause. Apparently a 10 cm piece of glass was found in a roll of paper, as were three nails in the side of the box it was in, which caused irreparable damage. It was presumed by SCC that this was an act of sabotage and not an accident. Three workers were sacked as a result of this. They were informed by letter that some workers had said that they had encouraged the carrying out of unspecified acts with the purpose of stopping production. No proof was offered that they had actually damaged the roll and stranger still, they all received the exact same letter. It was a standardised letter. It hardly seems necessary to state it but three people are not required to place three nails in a box yet all three are accused in relation to this act and of fomenting such acts. Again no proof was offered.
In other cases of sackings the charges seem equally spurious or not meriting a sacking. In order to make the dismissal notice sound more authoritive previous infractions of internal regulations have been used to beef up the case against workers. In some cases minor infractions that took place over two years before are cited even though the Internal Regulations drawn up unilaterally by SCC state in Article 132 that after four months and twelve months in the case of a second infraction all record of it will be destroyed and it will not be used against the worker. In other words when it comes to looking for excuses to sack workers they don't even comply with their own regulations. This makes all the more credible the claim from the union that they don't comply with the regulations and laws in relation to giving workers a fair chance to defend themselves before being dismissed.
It seems clear that a number of trade unionists have been sacked and treated unfairly by SCC. This damages the union's ability to organise and violates the constitutional rights to free association and to join a trade union.LIST OF CONTENTS
It seems only fair to ask one question, why? Sintracarcol has been instrumental in fighting for and gaining improvements in conditions. It has also opposed the overuse of sub contractors. Perhaps also, there is the fact that law 50 of 1990 made certain changes in working conditions, especially in relation to end of contract payments. These changes were seen by trade unionist right across Colombia as favouring employers. However, workers who were in employment before it came into full effect in 1991 had the right to remain under the old system. They could, however, voluntarily change over to the new system. It is the contention of the union that many of those sacked were sacked because they had refused to change over.LIST OF CONTENTS
7.4 Health and Safety
There have been a number of chlorine leaks at the plant, endangering workers and people in the nearby town of Yumbo. The company claims that this is now solved and that they no longer use chlorine in their plant. When we visited it we were nevertheless issued with gas masks, just in case. Just in case of what, was never explained to us. The union claims that these previous leaks have caused injury and death to some people but this is denied by SCC. They also claim that there is a high accident rate in the plant, which SCC denies.
Given the discrepancy between the accident rate claimed by the union and SCC, we asked to see the accident records kept in the infirmary. We made the request to the Doctor who showed us around the infirmary. He agreed to show us the records but was overruled by Victor Giraldo who said that such records were strictly internal. Given their unwillingness to cooperate on this matter we must doubt the veracity of their claims. On our visit to the plant we found that many of the notice boards on which the number of accidents is supposed to be recorded were blank or in one case had not been touched since 1995. The boards are supposed to contain the number of accidents, the number of days without accidents, the date of the last accident and the record of days without accident. Only in one mill did we see the board filled out correctly. Accident claim forms were also absent. When we asked about this, Nicholas Pombo of SCC seemed quite annoyed at our attention to detail.
On our visit we also saw that despite regulations quite a number of workers (both SCC and sub contractors) were not always wearing the protective clothing which they were supposedly issued with. The fact that the vice president of the company and some of the engineers were with us did not seem to bother them, nor did it seem to bother SCC as no one asked these workers to don the correct clothing. We saw workers in the chipper working without goggles or any type of mask. The piles of wood chip that are created are quite high and whilst the heavier chip stays on the ground the finer material is blown off by the wind. We ourselves noticed this when we were there, as breathing in was unpleasant near the piles, due to the dust. The union has made representations to SCC about these piles and has expressed concerns about the dust being blown into neighbouring houses.
LIST OF CONTENTS
7.5 Unions Health and Safety Outside Plant.
The union Sintracarcol is only organised in the plants that belong to SCC, it is not organised on the plantations where no union exists. Workers in the plantations are, with the exception of some forestry engineers, not SCC employees. They are employed by one or other sub contractor who employs them on a temporary basis. These workers are mainly involved in the felling and cutting of trees etc. When we went to Salento we spoke to a number of people who had worked for sub contractors used by SCC. They also claimed that there were a high number of accidents. We were unable to account for this although one family came forward to explain how one of their members had died working for the sub contractors. They also claimed that their social security had not been paid by the company and therefore they couldn't get treatment in the local hospital. This was confirmed by hospital staff. Under Colombian law, where a sub contractor fails to meet their responsibilities and obligations the contractor (in this case SCC) is equally responsible before the law. SCC claimed that the workers in Salento were not covered by the social security system but by a private fund which the hospital in Salento doesn't accept. If it is true that the hospital does not accept the private fund, why are workers covered by this fund and not the social security which is accepted? It is important to remember that the distances involved in travelling to an alternative hospital are great and are often beyond the economic capacity of the people affected. Furthermore we came across cases of people who had tried to make reclamations to the sub contractors involved only to find that they were based very far from the area and that in some cases had wound up the company and had begun again under a new name, thereby avoiding all legal responsiblity.
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HONESTY AND OPENNESS
We were invited to go to Colombia by Smurfit's in order to see for ourselves the truth about the situation. One would presume then that Smurfit's would be open and honest with us. This was not always the case and hampered our investigation of the matter.
From the moment we decided to take up the offer we began a period of negotiating the conditions under which we would participate. We expressed a clear preference for travelling in the summer period. Smurfit's rejected a trip in June on security grounds. The Colombian presidential elections were due to take place in June 1998 and traditionally there is an upsurge in violence around election time. They also ruled out any other possible time in the summer. They pushed for the month of November, indeed this has been their preferred date for a long time. In a letter dated the 18/9/1996 Mr Jim Fitzharris, Group Secretarial Manager stated that he had consulted with his Colombian colleagues about the best time to visit and "they did indicate that November was usually drier and it would be a good time to go". It is not, it is the wet season. Given that some of the allegations made against the company were directly related to water shortages and drying of the land, the wetter season is hardly the best time to go to see such damage.
When we arrived we were allowed to record all the formal presentations made by SCC employees but we were not allowed to tape anything said in the field. So when we queried SCC staff about specific sites we visited we had no record of it. It was precisely in these interviews that SCC were at their most revealing, sometimes contradicting the official line given to us in the formal presentations. We were further prevented from taking any photographs of their plant when we visited it. We were told we could be supplied with SCC's own photos. We pointed out that any such photos would be unlikely to show what we saw. They would inevitably show the plant at its best.
When we visited the SCC plantations along the road that led to El Tunal we stopped for lunch. One of our group wandered off from the main group. He came across a land slide (not a totally uncommon phenomenon in Colombia). When we asked SCC about it, one employee (Jorge Berrio) stated that the land concerned was not planted but that it was all natural forest. This of course would mean that SCC could not be blamed or even reasonaby queried about it if it were not a plantation. It was quite misty and difficult to see the tree so two of our group climbed up to the trees to find that the natural forest was only a few metres deep and that the rest was planted with pine including the area where the land slide had taken place. We were told to put this down to a mistake!
In our exit meeting we confronted SCC about trees we had found planted within wetlands which were supposed to be fenced off. They denied all knowledge of it and showed great surprise to such a point that they asked for a copy of the photos we took. However, the Controlaria General had sent a copy of a letter to SCC amongst others (ref: M.A 012) in which they say that the pine trees in the area of Las Alegrias are to be found "very near and in some cases in the sources of the steams and wetlands." SCC's lack of knowledge about this matter was very opportune. They avoided discussion of this point by claiming they knew nothing of it. This tactic was employed on more than one occasion. They also employed it when we brought up legal proceedings that affected them negatively, or decisions made by town councils. However, as the letter from the Controlaria General shows this was at least on one occasion nothing more than a tactic to avoid discussing a particular topic.
In our visit to the infirmary we were refused access to accident records by Victor Giraldo (not by the Doctor who was willing to show to us). However, one of the worst examples of a lack of openness was in the final exit meeting. We engaged in over nine hours of discussions with SCC. The meeting was video taped by SCC. We were informed that we would receive a copy of this video recording. We received a copy but some cuts have been made to it. One of these cuts relates to a legal question put to SCC. We were therefore deprived of the opportunity of showing up the ridiculous nature of part of the SCC defence.
We were not in a position to raise the issues of which they denied all knowledge of; this does not mean of course that we cannot raise these issues with the Irish public, just because Smurfit's squandered an opportunity to defend themselves.LIST OF CONTENTS
Both native and exotic tree plantations are not bad in themselves but it is the social context and the geographical location in which they are planted that determines their potential to have adverse environmental and social impacts.
There are local people who claim that SCC has had a negative impact on their quality of life. Since at least the early 1980s, Colombian environmental and development organisations, Municipal Councils, local campesinos, ecologists and the Colombian print media have questioned the planting of pine and eucalyptus plantations on account of their potential adverse effects. These include displacing campesinos from their land by land purchases, reducing biodiversity and water flows and accelerating soil erosion. There is also concern that forestry plantations provide less work than the farms that the forestry plantations displaced.
SCC has destroyed native primary forest to plant trees and to construct roads to facilitate timber harvesting. The company has also planted within the vicinity of ecologically valuable wetlands in breach of CRQ regulations.
At some plantations sites species diversity was lower in the plantations than in the pasture land that they displaced. Planting pine on degraded pastures may not be as environmentally benign as SCC claims. Some species of flora and fauna found in these pastures are absent within the plantations, being specialist plants of open habitats. SCC has failed to ensure that no valuable agricultural crop varieties have ben displaced from land that they have planted up in conjunction with landowners.
SCC has been prosecuted twice for allowing fires in two separate locations to burn out of control and destroy the last remnants of primary forest that remain at these altitudes. The fines imposed on SCC were derisory.
Local people claim that SCC plantations have reduced their water supply either through lowering the water table or by interception by the tree canopy and its subsequent re-evaporation into the atmosphere. There are some studies carried out in hydrographic watersheds that show reductions in flows as a result of a change of cover from grass to eucalyptus plantations. The influence of eucalyptus and pine on surface runoff depends on the species used, local conditions of climate, slope and management of the under-storey. A revision of 94 experiments in micro-watersheds affirmed that pine and eucalyptus can cause an average decrease of water performance of 40 mm for each 10% change in vegetation cover. This is sufficient evidence to warrant concern, as some areas of Risaralda Department where SCC has commercial plantations of pine and eucalyptus, are projected to suffer from water shortages in the long-term. This calls into question whether the planting of pine and eucalyptus in these areas is an appropriate land-use.
An unacceptable level of soil erosion has been a problem in Colombia from the time of the commencement of agriculture, substantially increasing due to inappropriate cattle-rearing practises. However there is some evidence that mature stands of Eucalyptus spp. are not adequate for erosion control, especially when grown in large-scale plantations. The amount of soil lost from SCC land from the time of clear-cutting to the time of replanting is not known as the company does not monitor soil losses on all its plantation sites. The soil in SCC plantations is often left exposed for between two and three months before planting.
We concluded that the presence of the Carton de Colombia in Bajo Calima during the 19 years of the forestry concession contributed, both directly and indirectly, to a serious deterioration in the quality of life of the local community and the widespread destruction of their environment. This is beyond dispute, attested to both by the community itself and by independent scientific reports.
The environmental authorities have been ineffective in monitoring and controlling the damage done to the environment. In at least one case, that of the CRQ, they have actively participated in an industry they are supposed to regulate.
SCC has fought legal battles to challenge decisions made by elected bodies, regional parliaments and town halls to halt the spread of pine and eucalytus plantations. However, we support the attempts by the people to exercise their democractic rights and believe that SCC should listen to these elected representives.
Those who have opposed SCC have on occasion been unsuccessfully sued for libel. We reject these attempts to silence environmentalists.
The land dispute with the Paez Indians continues. Smurfits agreed to meet them to discuss the situation but to date has not lived up to this promise made when the Paez visited Ireland last year. As a result of our investigation we have found that the Paez claim of territory has some justification. It is not that SCC bought the land illegally but that this was done under a legal regime which did not recognise the Indians. We further found that one of the farms in dispute belongs to SCC and that they could begin to negotiate its future now as a measure of good faith. We were not impressed by Agroforestal's version of events nor by SCC's claim that this is an independent company over which they have no control. Legally they could solve this problem now by handing over the land to the Indians claim and to compensate Agroforestal.
Many trade unionists have been sacked from Smurfit Carton de Colombia without any just cause given. Their trade union leaders have been sacked in contravention of Colombia labour law. SCC has refused to reinstate these workers. They further refuse to recognise these trade unionists as the elected representatives of the workers. This despite the fact that the Ministry of Labour continues to recognise them and has in fact fined SCC for the sackings.
We further found that SCC was less than open and honest with us. LIST OF CONTENTS
We believe that SCC should listen to the many elected bodies, regional parliaments and town halls who have all tried to legally halt the spread of pine and eucalyptus plantations. SCC should stop trying to legally challenge the decisions of these elected representatives and should instead meet their concerns.LIST OF CONTENTS
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Broderick, J. (1998). El Imperio de Carton: impacto de una multinacional papelera en Colombia. Planeta Colombiano Editorial S.A., Bogotá, Colombia.
CARDER (undated). Estudio de Oferta y Demanda HÌdrica en la SubregiÛn No. 1 del Departamento de Risaralda Municipios de Pereira, Dosquebradas, Santa Rosa de Cabal y Marsella Resumen Ejecutivo. Corporacion Autonoma Regional de Risaralda.
Carrere. R. and Lohmann, L., 1996. Pulping the South: industrial tree plantations & the world paper economy. Zed Books Ltd, London and New Jersey.
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Jensen, Allan. A., M¯ller, Birgitte. T., Schmidt, A., Elkington, J., van Dijk, F., Christiansen, K., Andersson, I. (1998).
Ladrach, William, E. and Zobel, Bruce. J. (1986). Aspectos Politicos, Economicos y Biologicos de la Reforestacion Colombiana con Especies Exoticas. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, InvestigaciÛn Forestal, Informe de InvestigaciÛn No. 109.
Ladrach, William. E. (1983). Preparation Fisica y Quimica de una Pendiente en Potrero para la Reforestacion con Eucalyptus grandis, Cupressus lusitanica y Pinus oocarpa, Resultados Despues de Dos AÒos. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, InvestigaciÛn Forestal, Informe de InvestigaciÛn No. 87.
Life Cycle Assessment: a guide to approaches, experiences and information sources. Environmental Issues Series, no. 6. European Environment Agency.
Lima, Walter (1996). Impacto Ambiental do Eucalipto. Sao Paulo, Brasil. 2nd Edition., Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo. 302 p.
MarÌn, Adriana. M. (1998). EcologÌa y Silvicultura de las Podocarp·ceas Andinas de Colombia. Smurfit Carton de Colombia Departamento de InvesticaciÛn Forestal, Cali.
MarÌn, Adriana. M. and Monsalve, Myriam (1994). Caracterizacion Ecologica de Dos Ecosistemas: Potrero y Plantacion de Pinus oocarpa en la Zona Noroccidental del Valle del Cauca (Restrepo). Smurfit Carton de Colombia , InvestigaciÛn Forestal, Informe de InvestigaciÛn No. 168.
PACOFOR (undated). Como Evitar Incendios Forestales. Proyecto Desarrollo de la Participacion Comunitaria en el Sector Forestal (Colombia/FAO/Holanda), Technical Series 12 (leaflet).
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Ruiz, H.J. (1994). Fuentes Alimenticias de la Ardilla Com˙n Sciurus grantensis, en la regiÛn de CajibÌo, Cauca, Colombia. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, InvestigaciÛn Forestal, Informe de InvestigaciÛn No. 162.
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Zobel, Bruce. J. (1978). Visita del Doctor Bruce J. Zobel, 1978. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, InvestigaciÛn Forestal, Informe de InvestigaciÛn No. 29.
Bay, D. 1996. Araceae of the Bajo Calima region, Colombia. Ph.D. Dissertation, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Benítez, T. M., 1974. Informacion preliminar sobre el estudio de la regeneration natural concession Bajo Calima. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, Investigación Forestal, Informe de Investigación No. 4.
Bonilla, V. D. 1992. Peritazgo del Dr. Victor Daniel Bonilla, presentado al juez primero civil del circuito de Buenaventura, Colombia.
Borrero-Navia, J. M. 1992. Carta abierta al Dr. Alfonso Lopez Caballero, presidente Junta Directiva Inderena, Cali, Colombia.
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Gutiérres M. 1975. Taxonomia de los mamiferos, aves, insectos y flora de la region del Bajo Calima, Municipio de Buenaventura, Colombia. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, Investigación Forestal, Informe de Investigación No. 8.
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Ladrach, W. E. and Mazuera, H. 1985. Proveniencia y caracteristicas de la regeneracion natural en un bosque humedo tropical despues de la tala rasa. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, Investigación Forestal, Informe de Investigación No. 100.
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Mazuera, H. 1979. Composicion y crecimiento de la regeneracion natural de cuatro a quince anos de edad en la concesion de Bajo Calima. Smurfit Carton de Colombia, Investigación Forestal, Informe de Investigación No. 46.
Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8
Broderick, J. 1998. El Imperio de Cartón. Planta Colombiano Editorial S.A., Bogotá, Colombia.
Codigo de Recursos Naturales y Normas de Proteción Ambiental. 1998. ECOE, Ediciones, Bogotá, Colombia.
Codigo Sustantiva del Trabajo y Codigo Procesal del Trabajo. 1996. Editorial Union Ltda., Bogotá, Colombia.
Constitución Política de Colombia. 1998. 13th Edition. Editorial Temis S.A., Bogotá, Colombia.
Convenio entre SCC y SINTRACARCOL
Court findings in Relation to Libel, Municipal Penal Court, 13 December 1993
Court findings in Relation to Libel, Circuit Penal Court, 25 December 1994
Demand presented by SCC against Nestor Ocampo
Fitzharris, J (1998) Communication before trip to Colombia
Public comuniques of Fundacion Ecologica Cosmos
Public comuniques of Paez Indians
Regalmento Interno de Trabajo de la Empresa Carton de Colombia, S.A., sin fecha. Carton de Colombia, Yumbo, Colombia LIST OF CONTENTS
Plants recorded in the vicinity of Vereda El Castillo, Municipality of Calarc·, by the Graduate Students of the University of QuindÌo in November 1993.
LIST OF CONTENTS