Pine and eucalyptus plantations advancing in northern Mozambique. In the province of Niassa, the land belonging to peasant communities is devoured by monoculture tree plantations. The main incentives for monoculture tree plantations are focused on the province of Niassa, the province farthest away from the capital city Maputo, and the largest and the least populated province, yet rich of fertile land.
The companies have been granted concessions by the government that allow approximately 250,000 hectares to be planted over a 50-year period. Presently five companies are working in the region with a total of 11,000 hectares of plantations and the forecast is to expand and cover approximately 100,000 hectares in the next few years. Funding is provided by the Swedish Government and the Global Solidarity Forest Fund, set up by various Swedish and Finnish Churches. This Fund states that it is offering employment to the communities and planting trees on degraded land that these have abandoned.
According to the World Rainforest Movement (the source of this news), the expansion of plantations is threatening the community access to their lands. The companies involved are occupying in land near the roads, very close to the villages. According to the community, companies are not occupying degraded land: it is traditional practice to leave the farmland to rest for a few years after the agricultural cycle. This does not mean that the community has abandoned the land. The planting of eucalyptus and pine instead substantially degrades the soil, an actual danger in an area where 80 % of the population lives in rural areas.
In the district of Lichinga and neighboring districts, the Mozambique National Peasant Union (UNAC) - a member of Via Campesina - and the Lichinga Peasant and Associations Union (UCA), are warning rural communities on about such negative impacts. As an alternative they propose obtaining more incentives for small scale community food production. These Unions are standing up for respect and implementation of the 1997 Land Law in favour of the communities, before the companies start occupying the lands, as this Law guarantees the peasant communities access to the land and its ownership.