Over 55 million hectares of land in Africa have been “grabbed” since 2000, according to research presented at a conference.
More land had been “grabbed” in Africa between 2000 and 2012 than in the rest of the world combined, Dr Blessing Karumbidza, senior research associate at the Durban University of Technology, told the Africa land Grab conference in Midrand.
Since 1974, U.S. federal relocation policy—known as Public Law 93-531—has forced tens of thousands of Dineh (Navajo) people from their ancestral homeland—now known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands—in Arizona. This constitutes the largest forced relocation of Indigenous peoples in the U.S since the Trail of Tears. The relocation is ongoing and impacts generations. The policy, crafted by the Department of Justice and Peabody Energy Company representatives, opened access to the mineral resources of Black Mesa – billions of tons of low-sulfur coal, uranium, and natural gas. A July 2012 report by the Navajo Human Rights Commission classifies the relocation as a massive human rights violation and demands the immediate repeal of PL 93-531 and an end to relocation efforts and harassment in the form of surveillance, livestock impoundments, and disruption of gatherings and ceremonies that the resistance community experiences.
Observers recording harassment by government agents-source: Black Mesa Indigenous Support October 2014
UPDATE from HPL (Hopi Partition Land) residents: Shirley Tohannie and elder Caroline Tohannie had their entire herd of 65 sheep impounded by the Hopi Rangers (US federal government) Tuesday, October 22, 2014. If the fines aren’t paid the sheep will go to auction, and the family is being told that the sheep will not be able to return to the family’s rangeland. The cost to release the livestock is nearly $1,000.
Jerry Babbit Lane, the Tohannie’s neighbor on the HPL, was arrested by Hopi rangers when he attempted to check on his neighbors and was charged with disorderly conduct. He was released this evening, 10/23. Rangers told Shirley they plan to take Rena’s (Jerry’s mother) sheep too and that they’re going to start impounding across the HPL.
As we’re writing, another family on Big Mountain has had nearly their entire herd impounded.
Indigenous peoples and small farmers in the Philippines created a new alliance, the Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG), in order to prevent palm oil plantation expansion in the province of Palawan. According to a post on farmlandgrab.org, CALG nabbed more than 4,000 signatures demanding a halt on the plantations, which are ripping apart the native forests.
Oil palm plantations have taken over land that the Palawan used to grow coconuts. Photo: ALDAW
Like many land grab situations, the palm oil plantations tear through local forests and land with little to no concern for the ecosystem or the people who rely on those forests for their livelihoods. Fed up, the Palawan people have solidified their stance just in time — nearly 20,000 hectares are set to be wiped out for future palm oil plantations, a large source for biofuels.
Palawan, which is often referred to as “the Philippines’ last ecological frontier”, is a biosphere reserve and home to tribal peoples such as the Palawan, Batak and Tagbanua, who rely on their forests for food, medicines and for building their houses.
“To find medicinal plants we must walk more than half day to reach the other side of the mountain range,” said a tribal Palawan man. “Because of the far distance we must leave our young children at home, so they do not learn the name and uses of these plants. The old knowledge is being lost.”
The plantations have brought hardship to the local communities. Rates of poverty and malnutrition are rising fastest in the area with the largest amount of land converted to oil palm production. Indigenous community organiser, John Mart Salunday called the oil palm project a complete “fiasco” in terms of poverty eradication.
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA, 16 October 2014 - Friends of the Earth International campaigners are standing with Korean environmentalists in opposition to the construction of a ski course for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang province, South Korea.
The Olympic ski course is under construction at Mount Gariwang, a protected area, which is covered by an ancient forest that harbours unique species, including the rare Yew tree, the Wangsasre tree, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula, and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea.
A delegation of Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition joined members of the Korea Civil Network on the CBD, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement / Friends of the Earth South Korea, and local communities on a visit to the site, on the occasion of the XII Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by South Korea this week.
Catherine Wilson of the IPS News Agency provides this really interesting account of indigenous land reforms on the island of Vanatu in the South Pacific. It seems like a heady mix of tourism and tax evasion has led to a global rush on lands owned collectively by those indigenous to the island. New laws seek to secure indigenous ownership and access to the land, which, as Wilson writes in the caption for the picture above, “remains a vital source of food security, cash incomes and social wellbeing.”
PORT VILA, Oct 14 2014 (IPS) - Stemming widespread corruption in the leasing of customary land to investors is the aim of bold land reform, introduced this year in the Southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which puts the rights of traditional landowners above the discretionary powers of politicians.
Less than one hour from the capital, Port Vila, is the village of Mangaliliu, one of many across this sprawling nation of 82 islands and more than 247,000 people where livelihoods centre on agriculture and fishing.
The Big Ag gold rush from governments and private investors claims to support small farmers, fight global hunger and create jobs. However, an article posted on GRAIN, shows how the only group supporter is the least in need — elite 1 percent.
A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective
Big Ag investors, like Chinnakannan Sivasankaran and Siva Group, overtake the industry through extremely unethical practices, such as land grabbing, commodification of land, marginalization of local communities and palm oil plantations. This news is particularly poignant, especially as U.S. citizens misguidedly celebrate Columbus Day, possibly the worst national holiday, which is a day dedicated to a land grabbing, mass-murdering historical hero of the 1 percent.
Feeding the 1 percent
by GRAIN, 7 October 2014
Since the global food crisis of 2008, there has been a massive wave of private sector investment in agriculture. More money flowing into agriculture means more innovation and modernisation, more jobs and more food for a hungry planet, say the G8, the World Bank and corporate investors themselves.
But does it?
Looking at the investments made by Indian billionaire Chinnakannan Sivasankaran – one of the most active private sector players in the global rush to acquire farmland – a worrying picture emerges of what happens when speculative finance starts flowing into food production.
Since 2008, the Siva Group and its myriad subsidiaries have acquired stakes in around a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations. On paper, he’s now one of the world’s largest farmland holders.
As a follow-up to Wednesday’s Climate Connections story on protecting peat forests in Indonesia, we bring this story: Palm oil companies in Indonesia are contracting with local communities to purchase harvested fruits. This results in smallholders and local communities engaging in clearing protected forests and planting palms in the protected areas. This shifts the responsibilities and the legal consequences of breaking the laws to individuals, many of which are going to jail.
“Smallholder” clearing in Central Kalimantan in 2013. Photos by Rhett Butler Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1004-lbell-small-palm-oil.html#8ouL8R4r3OrMtAX3.99
As more palm oil companies are held accountable for deforestation in Indonesia, a growing number are hiring local communities to do their dirty work. According to the Oil Palm Farmers Union (SPKS), companies promise to buy mature fruits at attractive rates from smallholders and local villages who agree to clear and plant in protected forest areas. Through these agreements, companies distance themselves from the process, leaving the locals to bear responsibility for the destruction.
Mansuetus Darto, National Coordinator of SPKS, says the deals often involve local officials, who encourage law enforcement to look the other way.
“However, if law enforcement is not complicit,” Darto said, when action is taken, “the palm oil companies are able to ‘dump the body,’ while the community members who entered the agreement are the ones who go to jail. This is happening throughout Indonesia.”
Sengwer houses being burnt by Kenya Forest Service guards on January 16, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme
News broke earlier this week about a leaked World Bank report that identifies the Bank’s role in the horrible forced evictions–the literal burning out–of the Sengwer people from their homes in the Cherangany forest reserves of Kenya. As usual, Chris Lang of the REDD Monitor does a great job breaking down what the leak shows and what happens next.
A leaked copy of a World Bank investigation seen by the Guardian has accused the bank of failing to protect the rights of one of Kenya’s last groups of forest people, who are being evicted from their ancestral lands in the name of climate change and conservation.
Thousands of homes belonging to hunter-gatherer Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest in the Cherangani hills were burned down earlier this year by Kenya forest service guards who had been ordered to clear the forest as part of a carbon offset project that aimed to reduce emissions from deforestation.
Quick Note: the UN, of course, condemned the evictions, as did many organizations in civil society. However, many in these same institutions champion the same false solutions to climate change that spurred the land grab. Vidal doesn’t make this criticism, but clearly identifies carbon offsets in the early paragraphs of his story, which is very important.
The World Bank’s inspection panel has found that the Bank violated its safeguards in a conservation project in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya. Thousands of Sengwer indigenous people have been evicted and their homes burned down.
In January 2013, the Sengwer made a complaint to the World Bank about the Bank-funded Natural Resource Management Project (NRMP). A copy of the Inspection Panel’s May 2014 report was leaked to the Guardian. The report accuses the Bank of failing to protect the rights of the Sengwer.