March 21 marks the International Day of Forests. This date was chosen by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in order to raise awareness about the importance of forests.
This year, the theme is “Forests and Education”. However, for the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) the first who needs to be educated is the FAO, since its definition of forests is “unfortunate”, said Teresa Pérez, member of the World Rainforest Movement in an interview with Real World Radio.
The FAO considers that a forest is any group of trees: “This is an extremely reductionist view. It does not take into account the thousands of interconnections there are in a forest, its cultural wealth, and above all, it excludes a significant part of forests: the people who depend on, live on and preserve the forest”, said Pérez.
WRM launched the campaign “Educating FAO”. The first of the 10 points that they propose is to remind the United Nations that “plantations are not forests”. Massive plantations -especially in the Global South, with oil palm or rubber – “play into the hands of corporations” that take lands from entire communities, as is the case in many Latin American, Asian or African countries.
“Corporations and governments are the main culprits for the loss of forest areas in the world and the loss of peoples´ livelihoods”, said Pérez.
Plantations have gender impacts in the communities that are invaded, looted and destroyed by corporations. WRM states that “when these industrial plantations encroach onto community land, sexual violence, rape and abuse against women and girls increase dramatically”. And they add: “Few report incidents of assault, rape or sexual harassment for fear of retribution and further abuse by authorities and company personnel”. These are some of the new mechanisms to colonize territories, and therefore, women´s bodies.