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Perspectives on Nature, Conservation and Management: The Brazilian Eucalyptus Monoculture through the Eyes of Conservationist NGOs and Local Communities

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Campello do Amaral Mello, Cecelia
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/694
Sector: Social Organization
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
forest management--economics
Abstract: From p. 1-2: "Eucalyptus cultivation and the cellulose industry are expanding fast in impoverished areas of Brazil, as a result of the global demand for cellulose, governmental economic incentives and the absence of economic-ecological zoning. Areas formerly devoted to family-farming and extensive cattle production are being bought by large eucalyptus corporations. As a result, areas formerly destined for the production of crops have reduced 168,3% (between 1980 and 1991) following the sharp withdrawal of public investments in small and medium sized crop producers. A great number of former rural workers have thus migrated to the cities - resulting in an exponential population growth of up to 82% - where they have become wage-laborers or unemployed. For at least 2 decades, Brazilian governments -- in their obstinate search for a balance of payment surplus through export-led growth in order to keep the so called monetary stability of the real - have provided large subsidies for the eucalyptus and cellulose industry. This is the main reason why the costs of cellulose 'made in Brazil' are the lowest in the world. These subsidies include direct investments from the Brazilian Bank for Economic and Social Development(BNDES) and tax exemption. Government has invested, in one company alone -- Bahia Sul Cellulose -- 5 times more than the total investments received by all agriculturers and cattle producers of the south region of Bahia over a period of 5 years. "Although these figures are rather impressive, the motivation for this papers was not born out of a specific concern with the economic aspects of the expansion of eucalyptus industry in southern Bahia. In fact, an updated version of the meticulous work on economic data developed by Jose Koopmans (1993 and 1994) in the early nineties would be extremely valuable. My basic concern lays on the local configurations of this economy of inequality. Arriving in the extreme south region of Bahia for a fieldwork research in Social Anthropology I could not ignore the striking presence of eucalyptus plantations in an area where one would expect to see forests, rivers or grassland. Although in the town of Jangada the presence of the company is not as visible as in the rural areas of the municipality, its action upon social agents and institutions is based on subtle but effective mechanisms of control."

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