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Forestry extractivism in Uruguay

Forestry extractivism in Uruguay
Markus Kröger and Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes
2021, in Agrarian Extractivism in Latin America
Pre-print version of the published version, which can be read here:
This chapter assesses how prominent definitions of (agro)extractivism are suited to explain
forestry extractivism, and what are the shared and particular qualities of forestry extractivism
as it manifests itself in large-scale tree monocultures for pulp production in
Uruguay. Different definitions of (agro)extractivism are assessed. Forestry extractivism is one
distinct form of agro-extractivism, with some notable differences. Key features of forestry
extractivism include (i) specific trade deals, as pulp investments are costly; (ii) long-term
setting-up through stages: master plans, enclosures, establishing pulp mills, and managing
rising conflicts after the building; (iii) mills and plantations; (iv) ecological and carbon impacts;
and (v) massive legitimization campaigns. This analysis should be accompanied by a global
political economic and resource geopolitics analysis of particular global extractivisms, such as
forestry. This should also be tied to particular contexts, polities, and lived environments, which
significantly influence especially the politics through which global extractivisms of different
types are birthed and resisted. In here, what constitutes forestry extractivism in the context,
polity, and sector of Uruguayan pulpwood tree plantation expansion is analysed. World-
ecological and political ontological analyses are important for defining what activities should be
called extractivist, and what types of extractivisms of what are involved in each activity.
In this chapter, we assess how prominent definitions of (agro)extractivism are suited to explain
forestry extractivism, and the shared and particular qualities of forestry extractivism as it
manifests itself in large-scale tree monocultures for pulp production in Uruguay. The definitions
of (agro)extractivism by McKay (2017), Alonso-Fradejas (2018), Gudynas (2015), Svampa
(2012), and others are assessed. We identify forestry extractivism, including industrial pulpwood
plantations and cellulose pulp production facilities, as one distinct form of agro-extractivism,
with some notable differences in comparison to the production of soybean, corn, and other crops
via monoculture plantations. One key difference is the prevalence of much higher capital
investments in the pulping part of forestry extractivism, wherein pulp investments costing
several billion euros are the key expansion mechanisms of pulpwood plantations (Kröger 2013a,
2013b). These pulpwood plantations of eucalyptus, pine, and acacia are the most prominent
feature of forestry extractivism, in terms of hectares occupied, and the long-term planning
needed to establish and root them (Kröger 2014). Other forms of forestry extractivism are tree
plantations serving primarily as sources of carbon substitution, for example, as charcoal material
to supplant coke in the iron ore-steel making complexes, or as material for producing pellets,
wood chips, or other energy and electricity production raw material (Kröger 2016). However, it
should be noted that in the same way as all natural resource extraction, agriculture or mining is
not extractivist in character; the label extractivist should also not be used for all forestry
techniques and forest- and tree-based economic sectors, and land-use activities and processes.
This chapter will help to clarify what constitutes forestry extractivism in the context, polity, and
sector of Uruguayan pulpwood tree plantation expansion.
We will also make some general comments on extractivism and particularly agro-
extractivism, enlightening how forestry extractivism helps to nuance and pinpoint key features
that conceptualizing extractivism more broadly should take into consideration. We will not
provide herein systematic comparison of different agro-extractivist sectors, but do offer some
notes and methodological comments on how such studies should be carried out. This discussion
is based primarily on our own field research and case studies on forestry investment expansion
sites around the globe, especially in Uruguay and Chile (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2015, 2016, 2019,
2020; Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2017, 2018), Brazil (Kröger 2013a, 2013b, 2013c; Marini
et al. 2017), Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere (Overbeek et al. 2012; Kröger 2014, 2016),
and Finland (Kröger and Raitio 2017), as well as our studies in other extractivist sectors, such as
mining and agriculture, in different polities of the planet.
We focus on the case of Uruguay, as the largest landowners of Uruguay are multinational
paper and pulp companies with headquarters in and with other deep ties to Finland. Currently,
about 1 million hectares of the countrys 17.1 million hectares are covered with pine and
eucalyptus plantations that are mainly in the hands of Finnish companies (Uruguay XXI 2016).
The corporations UPM and Stora Enso are the main owners of these plantations destined to
pulpwood production in Uruguay. Stora Enso holds a joint venture with the Chilean CMPC
corporation, called Montes del Plata at the estuary of the Plata river, while UPM has one mill in
Fray Bentos, alongside the Uruguay river. UPM is currently building another pulp mill, which, if
finished, will be the worlds biggest, in the middle of the country in the province of Tacuarembó.
Both of the UPM projects have been highly contentious, the first one, called Botnia (and first
owned primarily by another Finnish company, Metsä Group, owned mostly by a Finnish forest
owners cooperative), creating a major international conflict between Argentina and Uruguay
(Kröger 2007; Pakkasvirta 2008), and the second creating major internal opposition and protests,
for several reasons (Bacchetta et al. 2019). The particularity of Uruguay is that the pulp mills are
located in tax-free and free-trade zones: they are not part of the tax regime of Uruguay in the
same manner as, for example, soybean plantations in Uruguay or similar pulp investments are in
Brazil. Therefore, what Uruguay exports are eucalyptus trunks, to be processed and shipped
away by the corporations as pulp, a commodity used in paper, cardboard, and tissue production
around the world, especially in China.
Forestry extractivism a particular kind of agro-
One of the most well-known and applied short definitions of extractivism is offered by Eduardo
Gudynas. This definition has been created within the discussions around what is industry and
what is merely raw material extraction without notable socio-economic benefits, which is
resisted. This definition is applied especially in Latin America, due to the five centuries long
history of extractivism in different forms, where raw materials were exported from the continent
for the benefit of colonial, imperial, or neoliberal hegemonic or dominant global powers.
Gudynas (2018, 26) defines that we are faced with an extractivism when three
simultaneous characteristics occur: an extraction of natural resources in large volumes or high
intensity, where half or more are exported to global markets, and are as raw materials or
These characterizations clearly apply to Uruguayan eucalyptus plantations and pulp
production. The extracted volume is large and the intensity high, and practically all the
production is exported, first as tree trunks from Uruguay to the free-trade zones where the pulp
mills are, and from there as pulp to the transnational space of global markets.
In the last two pages of the book Extractivismos (2015), Gudynas further emphasizes that
particular valuations and ethics underlie extractivisms. He argues that it is essential to analyse
the alternative valuations that people resisting extractivism have, so as to understand what
extractivism is. We will come to this point of Gudynas in defining extractivism later in this
chapter. The earlier definition of Gudynas (2018) is simple and clear, and easily applicable and
understandable. It serves to not over-extend the concept, or use it too vaguely. However, this
conceptualization is problematic if a production practice would otherwise be destructive, large-
scale, and socio-ecologically problematic, but not destined to export markets. In this sense, the
definition provided earlier may be too nationalistically focused, given that there are many
internal colonial frontiers inside countries, and not just between them. Leaving these cases out
from the analysis of extractivism would create an unnecessary gap on how extractivism is
understood and examined in both practice and theory. For example, much of the forestry
practices around the globe would, according to Gudynas definition, not be considered as
extractivist, as in many places, especially in the global North, pulp is further processed into paper
and other pulp-based higher value products, and maybe even consumed, within that same
country. Yet, we acknowledge that the previous definition holds analytical merits due to its
clarity and the possibility it gives to pinpoint how the new wave of export-oriented mega-pulp
mills targeting both Global North and South suggests a deepening of extractivist stances globally
and how Finland and Uruguay differ in terms of added value to the national economy. The global
pulping boom suggests that forestry extractive operations are becoming larger in scale, leading to
more severe environmental degradation, and contributing relatively more to the national foreign
trade balance (and thus being more relevant for national macroeconomic policies). We will next
move to more specific definitions of agrarian extractivism from the general definition of
McKay et al. (2020, intro, this book) call for a more rigorous definition of agrarian extractivism.
Two exemptions are definitions given by McKay (2017) and Alonso-Fradejas (2018). We will
next present these definitions and then analyse how they explain forestry extractivism.
McKay (2017) names agrarian extractivism as defined by four interlinked features:
1 large volumes of materials extracted destined for export with little or no processing;
2 value-chain concentration and sectoral disarticulation;
3 high intensity of environmental degradation; and
4 deterioration of labour opportunities and labour conditions in the area/sector.
Pulp production in Uruguay fulfils all these four categories. Uruguay exports eucalyptus trunks
to the free-trade zones, which then produce pulp (and pollution and carbon emissions). The value
chain is highly concentrated in the hands of two to three foreign corporations only, which are
disarticulated from the rest of the economy (Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2018). Pulp
investments in the global South are typically enclave investments, which do not support the
creation of local industries or development, but buy the required capital goods for the building
and maintenance of the mills from the core localities within the system of global pulping, which
Kröger (2014) calls forestry imperialism. In this system, Finland, Sweden, and Austria are the
key countries which have the corporations producing the pulping machinery: the Finnish Valmet
corporation has produced about 80% of the pulping capacity of the world, while Austrias
Andritz, with production lines in Finland and Sweden, is another key pulping machinery
producer. The Finnish-Swedish Poyry Consulting is by far the leading project planning
engineering corporation. Also, the chemical producers are located in these countries. United
States and Canada also have some technology producers, but most of the value chain and key
functions have been very focused on a select group of countries and corporations that have
headquarters in tied relationships to national production networks in these countries (for pulping,
especially in Finland, Sweden, and Austria). This is thus a niche form of creating value, of
particular relevance in the case of how forestry extractivism is organized through different
multinational corporations with their head offices and main shareholders group up the value
chain located in the global North.
Eucalyptus plantations cause major environmental degradation, due to the application of
agro-toxics, and acidification, salinization, and erosion of soils, as well as by decreases in stream
flow and availability of clean water (Jackson et al. 2005; Kröger 2014). Water scarcity is another
direct environmental consequence of eucalyptus plantations, leading to the need to supply rural
communities caught in the middle of the plantations with externally sourced water from tank
trucks in Uruguay, for example (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). Eucalyptus plantations covering
hundreds of thousands of hectares occupy disproportionately large sections of municipal
territories in a limited territory, making it hard or impossible for other forms of land uses to co-
exist. This situation forces a semi-voluntary exodus of farmers, as well as other rural dwellers,
who no longer can find jobs at local farms (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). Tree plantation jobs in
Uruguay are seasonal, low-paid, requiring extensive travelling, and based on precarious working
conditions (Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2018): silvicultural workers are the most
impoverished and have poorest health and economic indicators of all worker categories in
Uruguay (Cardeillac Gulla et al. 2015). Corporations and politicians claim new pulp investments
would be required to generate jobs, but figures show that the number of jobs for wood extraction
for pulping has decreased between 2007 and 2016 by 992, totalling 1,669 in 2016. At the same
time, however, 1,100 new jobs were created for pulp processing, and 1,050 for other pulp-related
forestry activities (Bacchetta et al. 2019, 36).
We will make further use of the four features stated previously in providing a more
detailed analysis of the existing pulp investments and projects in Uruguay after this section on
applying definitions of agrarian extractivism to forestry in Uruguay.
Other key definitions of extractivism help to further elucidate forestry extractivism in Uruguay.
We will next move to assess the definition given by Alonso-Fradejas (2018), wherein agro-
extractivism is seen as having three key features:
1 the extraction and appropriation of the surplus value, rents, and state revenues, including
by means of financialization;
2 the appropriation of productive and reproductive labour; and
3 the contamination and exhaustion of external natures energy and materials as well as
damaging workers health and vitality.
Forestry extractivism in Uruguay also fulfils all these three categories. Especially the point about
appropriating state revenues is important here, as the Uruguayan state is in an extremely
disadvantageous contractual relation with the pulp-producing corporations (Bacchetta et al.
2019). The plantations and pulp-producing operations generate very low or no tax revenues, and
are indirectly highly subsidized (e.g. through state-funded infrastructures for the logistical
services of the operations). The appropriation of labour refers to significantly reconfiguring the
kind of state-funded education and professional jobs that are offered in the extractivist context
(Balch 2018). In Uruguay, the state has focused on periodically rolling out a new pulp
investment after the first one, so that the construction workers who have built one mill are not
unemployed once the project is finished but can find a future job in the next project. This is a
kind of path dependency, technological lock-in, and an agro-industrial enclave without
economically important interindustry synergy benefits (Kröger 2007; Balch 2018), where the
pulp companies ensure that the state supports their further expansion, by ensuring thousands of
job opportunities during the construction phase. However, after the construction phase is over the
state needs to find new jobs for them. In fact, Balch (2018) has pointed out how the corporations
adjust job creation figures to their own agenda and through carefully designed corporate social
responsibility (CSR) activities, employ tactics to detach themselves from fulfilling the promise
of employing large numbers of people, while still paying attention to portraying an image of
themselves as responsible.
Also, new professional education courses have been offered, and educational sectors and
states in Finland and Uruguay have signed several contracts to repurpose the Uruguayan
educational sector to make more workers available for the forestry sector (Fermi 2019). This has,
of course, many opportunity costs and appropriates the free education offered by the state for the
purposes of extractivist operations, and their smooth running. The appropriation of labour
production has myriad and deep political impacts. Bigger trade unions have thus supported
continued pulp investments, and put pressure, especially on the linked progressive parties that
have composed the Uruguayan government during the years when pulp investment decisions
were made. The 2020 elections brought in a conservative government for the first time in 15
years, but this has not yet changed the statepulp business relations, as the governments support
for the expansion of the forestry sector has continued.
Point (3) is a bit divided: in the most clearly extractivist parts of forestry operations, the
work is dangerous to health and the environment due to the application of pesticides and other
features. It is difficult and problematic to find or present hard facts numbers on these issues,
due to the political means of underreporting and overreporting of key numerical data by their
institutional producers, and the hiding of data. For example, the impacts on water pollution by
the Plata River pulp mills are not revealed to the public, but confidential, although observed by a
joint commission of Argentina and Uruguay, established after their major international conflict
around the Botnia pulp mill (Pakkasvirta 2008).
Maristella Svampas (2012) definition of extractivism includes additional considerations.
Besides defining extractivism as large-scale and oriented towards export markets and as an
activity where the environmental impacts are felt by local populations, Svampa makes explicit
links to intensive occupation of territories, land grabbing, concentration of landownership and
the large transnational corporations involved in the politics of extractivisms. Svampas definition
of extractivism as a form of territorial occupation indicates and emphasizes that land is not
empty prior to the arrival of extractive operations but that extensive areas of land are occupied
for the use of extraction. This focus on territory opens up space for an understanding of the
ontological politics involved in struggles over land affected or threatened by extractivism
(Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). In the Latin American social movement literature, the term
territory does not just refer to the physical boundaries, jurisdiction, or ownership structures but
also includes the symbolic meanings, practices, and relations to non-human agents of that
particular place (Ehrnström-Fuentes, 2020; Kröger and Lalander 2016). Thus, territorial
occupations are not just about who owns or controls the land through ownership or law
enforcement, but extractive occupations of territory also change the very ontology of the place
by altering the symbolic meanings, practices, and humanother-than-human relations
(Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019).
Svampas definition emphasizes how states prioritize large transnational corporations
over local populations and the weakening effects this has on democracy (see also McKay 2017).
Yet, the transnational corporations are not the only agents involved in the politics over forestry
extractivism, neither are they passive receivers of the benefits granted by the states.
Transnational forestry corporations together with a myriad of different supportive non-state
actors (e.g. forestry development consultants, suppliers, financial agents, corporate-benevolent
media, and NGOs) are involved in shaping both the institutional environment in which they
operate (Pakkasvirta 2008),
and the very ontology, or reality, that enables their own existence
(Böhm and Brei 2008; Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). Thus, through carefully designed social
development projects and marketing campaigns labelled as CSR, forestry corporations actively
engage in local politics seeking to influence the public opinion and their legitimacy among key
stakeholders (Balch 2018; Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019).
We discuss the implications of this ontological approach for examining forestry
extractivism in Uruguay at the end of this chapter.
Forestry extractivism: particularities
The expansion of tree plantations and pulp mills, especially in Uruguay, reveal several factors
which are important in highlighting the extractive character of these investments, but which are
not yet captured fully or in a nuanced enough way in the previous definitions of
(agro)extractivism. The discussion of these in the following helps broaden the understanding of
how forestry can also take extractivist forms, and the differences that extractivisms can take. On
a broad level, forestry extractivism converges with other forms of (agro)extractivisms, but it is
good to provide analysis on the differences between these extractivisms as well, while
understanding that the broader concept of extractivism captures well the much broader
similarities between these, under which there are nuanced differences. However, there is still a
need for systematic in-depth studies on different forms of extractivisms, across different sectors.
Such studies should partake from first studying the various sectors within the same polity and
context (e.g. soybeans and pulp in Uruguay), and then proceed with comparisons to settings
which share the expansion of these same sectors (e.g. to soybeans and pulp in Brazil). One
should avoid comparing a different sector in a different context with another polity and sector,
for the many methodological issues this creates, particularly the impossibility of controlling the
key changes in explanatory factors: thus making comparisons between, for example, Central
American oil palm extractivism and Uruguayan pulpwood expansion are methodologically
flawed and not recommended (Kröger 2020a).
When approaching the phenomenon of forestry extractivism, which should also be done
by bounding the case to a specific context as in here, first it is important to note that forestry
extractivism here (and in most other contexts) includes two separate but interconnected
operations: tree plantations and cellulose pulp production. These sectors have distinct impacts on
the local population and the environment, and they create different kinds of political economic
dynamics and contentious politics. Yet, in studies examining the socio-economicenvironmental
effects of the whole sector, the analysis must include both operations and their interconnected
dynamics. The following list opens up key mechanisms of how these two interconnected sectors
of forestry extractivism is expanded, several of which show how they differ from other forms of
Specific laws and trade deals in a bound international
The first key difference to note by the example of Uruguayan pulp investments is the role of
bilateral statecorporate cooperation in promoting, supporting, and protecting the birth of the
sector long before the actual decisions are taken on the investments. In Uruguay, the state has
paved the way for the birth of the forestry sector by: (i) creating laws that enabled the spread of
large industrial tree plantations; (ii) signing bilateral trade agreements with the home country of
the investing corporations (Finland); and (iii) establishing free-trade zones in which pulp mills
can be set up and operate without fiduciary responsibilities (Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger
2018). These state-level supportive mechanisms are executed prior to investments, protecting the
corporations from allegations of unlawful conduct as well as from potential financial losses due
to political changes in the operating environment of the host country (Ehrnström-Fuentes and
Kröger 2018). Conflicts are common to investments in forestry (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2015;
Gritten and Mola-Yudego 2010; Joutsenvirta and Vaara 2008; Leys and Vanclay 2010; Myllylä
and Takala 2011; Kröger 2013c), and for the corporations, there is a need to safeguard
themselves from the social and political risk associated with these conflicts. Uruguayan pulp
investing highlights a much more bilateral and longer term international binding of production
roles between Finland and Uruguay than, for example, soybean or palm oil expansion in Latin
America, whose ownership and international and national power structures are much more
spread and less bound and tight than in this exemplary and globally important case of forestry
Long-term setting-up through stages
While agro-extractivist ventures can often be established in a matter of years or even in a year, it
takes more than a decade, even several decades, to establish the required material basis for
modern pulp mills, even when using fast-growth species such as eucalyptus. Forestry
extractivism is thus introduced in several stages in comparison with other extractive modes:
1 Strategic phase. The making of land available and suitable for large-scale monoculture
tree plantations undergoes a carefully designed strategic plan during which suitable areas
for tree plantations are identified and mapped, regional land-use plans are changed, legal
arrangements are implemented, and economic incentives (subsidies) for tree plantations
are set up. Consultancy firms act as the architects of these strategies, creating a coherent
narrative about the benefits of forestry, which are needed to attract investor interest and
to garner support among local lawmakers that shape the institutional landscape in favour
of forestry investments (Carrere and Lohmann 1996). This normally takes several
decades, while, for example, soybean plantations have been expanded in South America
through a much faster strategic planning phase.
2 Tree planting phase. During this stage, rural communities undergo an ontological
transformation in how community members engage and relate to the land. Farming
communities that used to sustain themselves through food production practices are
transformed into tree plantation communities sustained through industrial low-waged
labour moving in and out of the community (Cardeillac Gulla et al. 2015). The changes in
landownership from settled smallholder farms to distant multinational corporations
impact how and by whom land is managed, how the ecology of the land is practised, and
territories are constituted. Thus, as communities, ecologies and their associated human
and other-than-human actors are increasingly linked to forestry operations; this also
influences the political preferences for the further expansion of forestry and the arrival of
(contested) pulp mills. Land ownership turns markedly concentrated, much more than in
soybean or other extractivist sectors, where regional and national elites and even middle-
sized farmers have remained much more prominent than in the corporate-controlled
forestry extractivism (Kröger 2020b).
3 Pulp mill planning and construction phase. During this phase, the desirability of the
whole forestry sector is likely to be publicly debated. In contrast to other agro-extractivist
sectors, forestry destined to pulp production, due to the long planning and building phase,
may offer more possibilities for public deliberation over the desirability and impacts of
the sector on the local community and the environment. However, although broad
similarities are shared between pulp investment dynamics across different contexts, this
deliberative space is not offered automatically across the board, but depends on polity
differences, and especially on whether contentious agency is being built, i.e. whether
there is the will and capacity to question pulp investments by the civil society and
progressive state actors (Kröger 2013a). As planning for pulp-based economies takes a
long time, specific politics are ushered in. For example, in contrast to the environmental
impact assessments (EIAs) executed in the highly contentious mining sectors, the forestry
practices and work relations are already settled in the country and in many local
communities at this point (see point 2). This creates more political interest skewed
towards adding more value to the existing operations, going from logging to pulp
production. Thus, in contrast to the mining sector (see Kröger 2020a), the forestry sector
is well established with linkages to the local economy long before the desirability of the
sector is publicly debated during the evaluations of the EIA. In comparison to agro-
extractivism in the form of agricultural crops, such as the soybeans, corn, and cotton
planted on commoditizing resource frontiers in Brazils Mato Grosso state, for example
(Kröger 2020b), there seems to be however much more contestation of mega-investment
plans and in particular of the construction of pulp mills than for resisting the expansion of
the crop-based agro-extractivisms that are not so dependent on high-cost and tightly
controlled capital goods such as pulping lines and specific forestry techniques.
4 Post mill-construction phase. Conflicts are most likely to emerge only after the mills
have been constructed, and the dire reality of unrealized promises is revealed to the
public (Kröger 2010). This opens up a new era of contentious politics or extensive usage
of CSR policies aimed at curbing mobilizations, or both. The execution of future projects
becomes increasingly difficult within the same region, as visible in Uruguay.
Forestry enclosures
The amount of land occupied by plantations is locally and regionally vast, as in other agro-
extractivist models, and, in the case of Uruguay as well as most pulp-producing regions in the
Global South, in large part centralized to the forestry corporations, who through direct ownership
have more control of the whole chain of custody. High levels of land concentration to single
corporations controlling hundreds of thousands of hectares in a 100200 kilometre radius is a
commonality of pulping in the Global South, distinguishing forestry extractivism as a
particularly corporate-controlled form of extractivism in the array of (agro)extractivisms. In
Uruguay, the occupation of vast areas of land is strikingly clear: according to UPM, its owned
and rented tree plantations cover 385,000 hectares, while Montes del Plata is estimated to control
between 200,000 and 300,000 hectares, while the total extension of eucalyptus and pine
plantations is around 1 million hectares (Bacchetta et al. 2019, 201). Another 4.1 million hectares
of the countrys 17.1 million hectares have been declared as a forestry priority (Uruguay XXI
2016). What this means is that land areas previously inhabited by other non-forestry-related
practices (e.g. cattle grazing and agricultural practices destined to food production) are deemed
less important. Through governmental incentives and land-use policies, the symbolic meanings
of land-related practices are increasingly tied to forestry operations as a national priority. In areas
destined to forestry operations, alternative non-forestry-related land practices are not able to
resist these kinds of territorial occupations (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019; ONeill 2015).
Criticism of land ownership concentration and foreignization has been raised both by
academics (Piñeiro 2012) and mainstream media (Toivonen 2016). In recent years, forestry
corporations have started to offer cooperation programmes to local landowners. They explain
that by planting eucalyptus trees on their land, the landowners will be able to diversify their
traditional production (usually cattle and agriculture) through sustainable eucalyptus production
using UPMs high-quality seedlings (Elhordoy 2019). Through these programmes, local
landowners plant and manage eucalyptus plantations destined to pulp mills on their land (UPM
Forestal Oriental 2018). These types of diversification of farm productivity into tree plantations
are also enabled by financial assistance provided by the Inter-American Development Bank in
close cooperation with the Uruguayan Agricultural Ministry.
The forestry enclosures do not only include tree plantations, but all associated
infrastructure that encloses rural territories in forestry-related practices. For example,
investments in roads and railways that serve the forestry sector are enabled to use publicprivate
partnerships between the state and international development funds (Elhordoy 2019). In
Uruguay, pulp mills, also financed by international development funds (Elhordoy 2019), are
constructed on tax-free zones that represent another type of enclosure in which only practices
related to the production of pulp destined to export markets are allowed to exist.
Sophisticated legitimization campaigns
The forestry sector presents itself as a central player in the new green bioeconomy that uses
biomass, or renewable materials, to create sustainable fossil-free alternatives in a variety of end
uses (UPM 2020). Thus, in order to appear sustainable, the forestry sector has heavily invested
in various forms of CSR and played an active part in developing international certified standards
(e.g. FSC, PEFC) and networks that promote sustainable forest management on global scales
(e.g. World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Forests Dialogue initiative, and
the WWFs New Generation Plantations platform) (Stora Enso 2020). Certifications also play
vital roles in the creation of a sectorial culture and philosophy tied to forestry in different
contexts and at multiple levels (Carrere and Lohmann 1996; Pakkasvirta 2008). The narratives
used to frame forestry as socially acceptable through media further strengthen the symbolic
meanings of sustainability and ethicality as defined within the sector itself (Ehrnström-Fuentes
and Kröger 2017; Ehrnström-Fuentes 2015), crowding out alternative ways of framing
sustainability based on other land-based practices that still exist in places endangered by forestry
expansion (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). In comparison to, for example, oil palm or soybean agro-
extractivisms, the terms of debate in forestry are not so much about the need to avoid
deforestation by extractivist expansion, as the forestry sector is much more likely to be
associating itself (and being associated) as an agent of reforestation, or expander of planted
forests, or even simply forests, although in practice the sector does cause direct and indirect
deforestation, and destruction of native ecosystems such as grasslands (Kröger 2014).
In fact, pulp and paper companies have, in the past, repeatedly been exposed to
reputationally damaging consumers and publishing house boycotts for their involvement in clear-
cutting old growth and native forests (Halme 2002; Joutsenvirta 2006; Stine 2011). Thus, as a
consequence, the sector as a whole, not just in Uruguay, has over a long period of time included
social responsibility in their strategic management decisions and marketing campaigns to mould
public opinion in favor of the pulp and paper sector, hiding the negative environmental,
economic and social impacts of this type of development (Böhm and Brei 2008, 358).
How forestry corporations use CSR projects to legitimize the presence of pulp mills in
local communities in Uruguay has been documented in detail by Balch (2018). Also, Ehrnström-
Fuentes and Krögers (2017) study of oppositional voices in Uruguay and Chile show how the
corporate activities designed to create a social license to operate (SLO) are used to silence
grievances and legitimize plantations and pulp mills to key influential stakeholders elsewhere
(investors and end customers). This sophisticated corporate counter-tactics have led to major
revamping of the local political setting, remoulding the political landscape in its favour,
destabilizing counter-mobilizations that expose the adverse social and environmental impact of
forestry operations (Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2017, 2018). Similar kinds of legitimization
campaigns do also exist in other extractivist sectors, such as mining and agriculture (e.g. round-
table discussions on sustainable palm oil and soybean that would supposedly not be produced in
deforested areas). In the case of forestry extractivism, these campaigns have started to focus
more and more on framings that seek to legitimize and coin these corporations as forerunners in
the bioeconomy, as key bio- and green-economy parcels of the struggle against fossil-fuel-based
economies, which would further help in mitigating the climate change (Ehrnström-Fuentes
2019). This is a distinct struggle and dynamics for legitimization campaigns than the campaigns
by other forms of extractivism, such as mining or animal feed production, whose negative
climate impacts (e.g. deforestation) are more self-evident, and emphasized internationally.
Despite the investments in CSR and other stakeholder relations, conflicts with
environmental movements and local populations, whether visible or more covert, are still
commonplace to the instalment and running operations of pulp mills, and the expansion and
sustaining tree plantations in Uruguay and elsewhere. These conflicts seem to be more visible
internationally and more present than conflicts around soybean plantation expansion in Uruguay
or elsewhere. For example, a Google search on 17 July 2020 on Uruguay pulp conflict versus
Uruguay soybean conflict results in 1.5 m hits versus a bit less than 0.9 m hits. Pulp conflict
in general produces 17.8 m hits, while soybean conflict produces 7.55 m hits. Palm oil
conflict produces however 29 m hits, and mining conflict 137 m hits, which shows the much
higher visibility of these two sectors than pulping, globally.
We will next move to a more detailed analysis of the political ecology and political
ontology of forestry extractivism, which are key issues, or maybe the key issues, to consider
when analysing and defining extractivism.
The political ecology of forestry extractivism
The definitions of agro-extractivism, as well as the definition of extractivism by the various
authors discussed earlier, offer tools for pinpointing, especially the political, economic, and
social aspects of extractivisms. These analyses of the politics involved in extractivism also offer
possibilities for deepening the analysis of political ecology (studying the effects/politics of
extractivism on the ecology, and vice versa, within the same ontology) (see e.g. Alonso-Fradejas
2018) or a political ontology (studying the effects/politics of extractivism on and with alternative
ontologies or alternative ways of being) approach (see e.g. various works by Gudynas and
A political ecology approach for examining extractivisms emphasizes the socio-
ecologically destructive characteristic of extractive operations and to use these as the basis of
inquiry. Most existing political-economic analyses of extractivism give some importance to
ecological matters, from the viewpoint of how the destructive aspect of extractivism is its key
defining feature, affecting the political and accumulative dynamics in crucial ways. Ye et al.
(2020) list ten key features of extractivism, one of these being the creation of barrenness, places
that are depleted, destroyed, or polluted by extractive operations. Dunlap and Jakobsen (2019)
emphasize the destructive and violent characteristic of extraction, and so does Jason W. Moore
(2015) in his work on the Capitalocene and the web of life. For Moore, capitalism is a frontier, a
destructive project in its core: it needs to extract, blunder, and appropriate new value by
expanding resource-extracting frontiers, which cause destruction within the web of life. Alonso-
Fradejas (2018) weaves together a more detailed political ecological analysis of soil, hydrology
impacts of sugar cane, and palm oil production with a Marxist conceptual analysis of this
metabolic rift.
Research on extractivism should engage with the relevant ecological impact studies of the
type of extractive operation in question, uniting this to political economic analyses. We will next
assess monoculture tree plantations more in detail in this vein.
The key issue to consider in the political ecology of forestry extractivism is that
monocultures of eucalyptus used in pulp production acidify and salinize soils and decrease
stream flows (Jackson et al. 2005). They also deplete and decrease the availability of water,
especially drinkable water, due to the use of pesticides in the plantations, and diminish
groundwater tables due to their fast-growth cycle of eucalyptus clonal stands, and the breeding of
eucalyptus variants that require much water to grow faster (Kröger 2014; Overbeek et al. 2012).
This leaves behind landscapes and soils that are eroded (Jobbágy and Jackson 2003). The
existing ecosystem services of the Uruguayan grasslands are depleted, and the resiliency of the
systems is lost (Céspedes-Payret et al. 2009). This also explains how cheap pulp can be produced
in these mega-mills. This is premised on a cheapening of nature, a process that is based on
appropriation of natures unpaid work, in terms of Moore. This is how commodity frontiers have
destroyed and depleted lived environments since the 15th century, as Moore (2015) describes,
moving to new areas. In the case of South American pulp investment expansion, these have
spread from the coasts and accessible river sites inland (Marini et al. 2017), as visible also in
Another key type of extractivist appropriation and destruction of existing accumulated
capital, in nature or ecosystems, is the loss of organic soil carbon when natural pampa grasslands
previously used for pasture are converted into tree plantations. Studies in Uruguay on 20-year-
old eucalyptus stands established on grasslands suggest that even though eucalyptus growth does
capture carbon from the atmosphere into the tree trunks, beneath the surface the existing soil
carbon rapidly dissolves: about 80% of the positive impact of tree planting in terms of carbon
capture above the ground is cancelled due to the negative impact on carbon balances
underground (Carrasco-Letelier et al. 2004). Similar impacts in terms of carbon emissions and
balances of soils are also present in other forms of agro-extractivism, and elsewhere such as in
sugar cane and oil palm plantations in Central America (Alonso-Fradejas 2018, 346). The focus
of most analyses lies on what happens above the ground, to justify the investments, and to
capture the rents from booming carbon markets and credits, for their supposedly beneficial
effects on carbon sequestration and, thus, climate change mitigation (Overbeek et al. 2012;
Kröger 2016). These carbon calculations require much more detailed and critical scrutiny.
Moreover, pulp mills themselves produce about double the amount of carbon emissions
as they produce pulp. Thus, a 1-million-ton-per-year-producing pulp mill produces over 2
million tons of carbon emissions (
hiilivelka/). Furthermore, most of the produced pulp quickly returns to the atmosphere, when
converted into cardboard and tissue products, which are mostly not recycled (Carrere and
Lohmann 1996; Dauvergne and Lister 2011). Even when recycled, the processing of new
materials contributes to more emissions (Overbeek et al. 2012).
The green image of forestry corporations thus needs to be seriously challenged. The
overall carbon impact is clearly negative, and these pulp investments are not a solution to
curbing climate change, quite the contrary. Mega-pulp mills are unnecessary and unsustainable
investments. In terms of the extractivist theoretical apparatus, pulping does just that what its
name suggests: pulping landscapes, existing ecosystems, and carbon balances, appropriating
existing organic matter in the soil, converted into pulp, for profit and gain which concentrates to
particular corporate elites (Kröger 2013b). What is left behind in many places are eroded and
polluted soils, uninhabitable, and water scarce rural landscapes (Carrere and Lohmann 1996),
which are locked in into ever-further forestry extractivism, as many soils, especially in low-
precipitation countries such as Uruguay, do not serve anymore for other purposes, or would
require extensive investments in irrigation.
This political ecological analysis leads us to a key observation. The specificity of forestry
extractivism, at least in Uruguay, seems to be a deep capture and control of large swaths of land
for several decades for the forestry corporations purposes. This is assured by rights to pollute,
which protect the investments through the possibility of charging the Uruguayan government in
the international arbitration court for investment disputes, if the people decide to democratically
increase regulations, for example. The continuity is ensured by a technological lock-in, where the
forestry methods used, described earlier, make it possible to introduce ever-more extractive
eucalyptus stands, increase the amount of fertilizers and pesticides, and thus deplete soils for
other land-use practices. The salinization, acidification, emissions from loss of soil carbon, and
decrease of water levels are particularly worrying aspects here.
The destruction inherent to extractivisms suggests that extractivisms are forms of
expanding unproductive capital: they are not really intensive forms of production, but actually,
forces which destroy and deplete capital that resides in soils, in the broader conceptualization of
capital which also includes soils (as Marx already suggested) (Dowbor 2018). Eucalyptus
plantations in Uruguay have led to the loss of fertility of these soils (Céspedes-Payret et al.
2012). Tree plantations or pulp investments are also deeply extractive ventures, a sort of plunder
of natures bounty. We suggest that this political ecological analysis should serve as one key
guideline in defining what kinds of natural resource exploitations should be called extractivist
and which not.
The political ecology of forestry extractivism also suggests another important point for
analyses of extractivisms. In many cases, extractivist operations of different types of work in
conjunction. For example, forestry extractivism is a tool or modality for water extractivism, due
to the negative impacts of polluting and consuming, appropriating water through plantation
expansion (see Farley et al. 2005; 2008). Water extractivisms can take many forms, but the
requirement of ample rainfall and soils which do not need to be irrigated suggests that forestry
extractivism (as many other agro-extractivisms) is almost always working as a form of water
extractivism. However, eucalyptus for pulp production cannot be grown in just any kind of
territories, since it requires about 8001000 mm of precipitation per year (in contrast to 400 mm
for soybean cultivation). Forestry consulting companies have mapped the areas around the world
where eucalyptus monocultures would be possible, and there is a limited number of these places.
Furthermore, in comparison to broad-leaf forest in similar precipitation, eucalyptus plantations
are more likely to reduce water availability due to their high evapotranspiration, and be more
threatened by drought (Liu et al. 2017). These political ecological characteristics of forestry
extractivism further underline the importance of studying not only extractivism as a general
process, but to study extractivisms, in their varied forms.
Lastly, we will delve deeper into analysing the political ontological dynamics, which can
open up forestry extractivism.
The political ontology of resistance to forestry
To understand resistance to forestry and the politics of place that local groups engage in as they
defend their life forms against forestry extractivism, it is not enough to examine these conflicts
as merely environmental, or as expressions of ecological distribution conflicts (Scheidel et al.
2018). How environment and ecology are understood and practised by local actors depends
largely on the practices that inform their way of being and relating to place (Blaser 2013b; de la
Cadena 2015), which in turn informs how they respond to the arrival of extractivism in their
community (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2016; Ehrnström-Fuentes 2020). The field of political ontology
allows for a nuanced examination of the impacts, conflicts, and dynamics involved when local
groups confront and resist the arrival of extractivism on their land (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019;
Ehrnström-Fuentes 2020).
Drawing on Indigenous struggles against states efforts to colonize and develop
Indigenous territories, Political Ontology (with capital letters) drawing particularly from
Amerindian knowledge postulates that the dominant position that the modern myth/ontology
holds vis-à-vis other ontologies singularizes the multiplicity of place-based worlds into one
presumed universally applicable reality (Blaser 2010, 2013a; de la Cadena 2015, de la Cadena
and Blaser 2018). In essence, in encounters with modernity (e.g. participatory democracy,
national politics), Indigenous ways of being, knowing, and relating (to) the world are not
considered relevant, legitimate, or even acknowledged to exist (Blaser 2010; de la Cadena 2015).
Ontological openings which question the modern forestry apparatus, with its narrow and
western-based, technical definitions of forests and trees, are currently starting to challenge global
forest governance (González and Kröger 2020). Thus, when ethical assessments of what exist,
what is good, and what is desirable are done based on modern ontological assumptions, this
effectively excludes, or makes invisible, alternative voices from the political debates about how
life should be lived in the community (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2015). This exclusion of alternative
voices is particularly clear in the debate over the desirability of extractive projects, where the
necessity to create economic growth and development to solve issues of poverty are commonly
used to legitimize new projects, while ignoring the harms caused to the ways of reproducing life
in the community (Gudynas 2015).
The hierarchical ontological relations that exist between Indigenous communities and
developmentalist states in other parts of Latin America are also present in Uruguay despite its
lack of large Indigenous populations. The urban Uruguayan growth-driven techno-scientific
entanglements with the forestry sector invisibilize many grievances felt by rural cattle farmers in
regions assigned as a forestry priority. Due to their rural status as less productive and less
capable of contributing to economic growth and development than the capital-intensive forestry
assemblage, smallholder cattle farms and other oppositional voices have not been able to make
their voices heard in the national media and political debates or mobilize a large unified
movement against forestry investments (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019).
The conflicts that have emerged do, however, make visible non-human forces involved in
politics of extractivism. As noted previously, conflicts over water are common features in the
political ecology of forestry extractivism. These water conflicts are also manifestations of
ontological conflicts between competing ways of performing the world through different human
water entanglements (Sepúlveda 2016). In Uruguay, the gradual decrease, and later absence of
underground water is what has forced many cattle grazing farmers to sell and abandon their
farms (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). Yet, this decrease of underground water availability has not
officially been acknowledged as an issue related to forestry. Instead, drawing on scientific
discourses, politicians, investing corporations, and even (some) scientists claim that changes in
water precipitation, and thus availability thereof, is related to climate change rather than the
arrival of monoculture tree plantations in Uruguay (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). This debate,
revolving around the (ab)use of science, is firmly situated within how facts are established
within modernity, and has ended up erasing the lived realities of farmers who attest that the
plantations have made farming very difficult because of their experienced water scarcity. Thus,
to understand the organization of resistance (or lack thereof) it is important to pay attention to the
mobilizing force of non-human actors as extractivism threatens the existence of the multiple
worlds that these actors collectively sustain (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2020; Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019).
To understand how corporate agency affects these politics, it is important to note how
forestry politics include elaborated CSR programmes that seek to erase conflicts and strengthen
the forestry ontology among a wide array of civil society actors (Böhm and Brei 2008). This is
partly due to the fact that in contrast to other agro-extractive fields in Uruguay (e.g. soy and
rice), multinational corporations (and their associated business partners, as discussed earlier) are
the main actors driving the expansion of the forestry sector, connecting large areas of land to
extractive practices. Thus, the continuous expansion of the capitalist appropriation of nature is
not an anonymous force of the landed elite but driven by clearly identifiable corporations and
their appointed managers who, at any time, can be exposed as acting irresponsibly, as seen in the
environmental campaigns previously discussed. By investing in community development
projects (Balch 2018) and defining sustainability according to criteria set by the industry itself
(Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2017), forestry corporations in Uruguay have used CSR to
engage directly in the ontological politics of place (Ehrnström-Fuentes 2019). Thus, by shaping
the conversations, meanings, and relations to the things at stake (Blaser 2013b) in places
affected by their operations, corporations use CSR as a mechanism to connect humans and non-
humans in ways that further strengthen the forestry assemblage (for a detailed account of how
forestry corporations use CSR to disable local conflicts, see Balch 2018). These brief notes on
the ontological conflicts here should be complemented by detailed political ontologies of
extractivisms in different places.
This chapter has identified forestry extractivism as a particular type of extractivism, which in
some regards can be considered a specific instance or sub-category of agrarian extractivism.
Uruguay was used as an example to identify how forestry extractivism functions in the case of
pulp investments in that country based on extensive eucalyptus monocultures and paper pulp
mills. Key features of forestry extractivism include:
1 specific trade deals, as pulp investments are costly;
2 long-term setting-up through stages: master plans, enclosures, establishing pulp mills,
and managing rising conflicts after the building;
3 mills and plantations;
4 ecological and carbon impacts; and
5 massive legitimization campaigns.
We argued that political ecological, world-ecological, and political ontological analyses are
important for defining what activities should be called extractivist, and what types of
extractivisms are involved in each activity. We showed how the existing conceptualizations of
(agro)extractictivism help guide research around forestry extractivism. The existing definitions
were found to be helpful, and we recommend adopting them as a checklist of what aspects need
to be considered in analysing forestry and other forms of extractivism.
Pulping involves several forms of extractivisms, for example, based on a destructive
relation with soils, water and carbon, forestry extractivism being thus definable as at least soil,
water, and carbon extractivism. The carbon stored in trees is converted into paper products, and
carbon is returned to the atmosphere in the production and consumption process, and depleted
from soils due to the intensive production methods. If carbon storages would be increased, then
that forestry practice would not be carbon extractivist. An example of this kind of process is, for
example, the growth of hardwood trees in long-growth cycles in natural forests in Germany,
described by Wohlleben (2016). To this list of extractivisms which are interrelated and form the
possibilities of pulpwood plantation expansion, one can also add soil extractivism, as the soils
are eroded.
We also discussed ontological conflicts related to pulpwood expansion, which the case of
Uruguayan expansion can shed light on. Political ontology is central for understanding
(agro)extractivisms, especially in contexts where conflicts and grievances remain for many
years, mostly in the shadows, as within Uruguay. From a political ontology perspective, forestry
corporations ambitious legitimization campaigns are a direct response to the local conflicts
around how pulpwood production and pulping affect, or threaten to affect, local ways of being in
Thinking through the concept of (agro)extractivism puts emphasis on what is extracted
ecologically. This analysis should be accompanied by a global political economic and resource
geopolitics analysis of particular global extractivisms, such as forestry. This should also be tied
to particular contexts, polities, and lived environments, which significantly influence especially
the politics through which global extractivisms of different types are birthed and resisted. The
literature on Uruguayan pulp investment was used as an example of this here. Further studies on
agro-extractivism should focus on making systematic and carefully designed comparisons where
both the polities and sectors compared are controlled for, comparing, for example, soybeans and
eucalyptus in Brazil and Uruguay, which have both, but not any kind of resource-exploiting
sector anywhere with any other kind of natural resource extraction. It is also good to separate and
bound what normal resource extraction is, and what extractivist extraction is: several existing
definitions, briefly reviewed and applied here, provide precise tools for this, which we
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In the case of Uruguays forestry sector, the forestry consultant firms (e.g. Poyry Group) are
the creators of strategies and ideologies, pulp, and paper companies (e.g. UPM, Stora
Enso) as project implementers, chemistry companies (e.g. BASF, Bayer, Kemira), and
machine producing companies (e.g. Valmet, Ponsse) as important suppliers of material
goods, and financial investors (export guarantee agencies, international banks, and credit
agencies) as provider of the necessary capital for these investments (Carrere and
Lohmann 1996; Kröger 2007, 2010; Pakkasvirta 2008). In these networks, governments
(e.g. Finland, Uruguay) enable the creation of links among the business actors and related
associations (e.g. export promoting agencies, business associations, industry
representatives, and worker unions) (for a more detail overview of the governmental role
in birthing forestry extractivism see Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger 2018).
Other forms of extractivism have also very negative and specific ecological impacts, whose
comparative analysis to eucalyptus monocultures is however beyond the scope of this
... These definitions emphasize the social qualities of extractivism, and offer tools for critical agrarian studies, political ecology, and political economic analyses. Agro-extractivist scholarship has been advanced in recent publications, including McKay, Alonso-Fradejas, and Ezquerro-Cañete (2021), Tetreault, McCulligh, and Lucio (2021), and in Kröger and Ehrnström-Fuentes (2021), which identifies 'forestry extractivism' as a subset of agroextractivism. ...
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Research on extractivism has rapidly proliferated, expanding into new empirical and conceptual spaces. We examine the origins, evolution, and conceptual expansion of the concept. Extractivism is useful to analyze resource extraction practices around the world. ‘Global Extractivism’ is a new conceptual tool for assessing global phenomena. We situate extractivism within an ensemble of concepts, and explore its relation to development, the state, and value. Extractivism as an organizing concept addresses many fields of research. Extractivism forms a complex of self-reinforcing practices, mentalities, and power differentials underwriting and rationalizing socio-ecologically destructive modes of organizing life-through subjugation, depletion, and non-reciprocity.
... Specific literatures on agrarian or agro-extractivism further specify the terms and offer analytical tools to use the concepts for analyzing recent transformations, especially in the Latin American countryside, through political economy and political ecology (McKay, 2017;Alonso-Fradejas, 2018). Meanwhile, forestry extractivism in the form of monoculture tree plantations is a constantly growing trend, pursued under the umbrella label of a so-called bioeconomy (Kröger, 2013;, with carbon sequestration and other claims hiding the actual circumstances of rising pollution and deaths caused by such extractivist expansions (Ehrnström-Fuentes and Kröger, 2018;Kröger and Ehrnström-Fuentes, 2020). ...
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This chapter provides an etymological and ontological overview of the roots of extraction and global extractivisms. Since the 2000s, extractivisms have intensified, becoming ever-more global, promulgated by land and resource rushes. Meanwhile, the academic use of the concept of extractivism has expanded from mining to new arenas like agriculture, forestry, finance, and even digital realms. We provide an analysis of the underlying etymologies and ‘onto-logics’ of extractivism to illuminate a mindset and practice that is increasingly pervasive in the operations of extraction and the modern world system. We also highlight some forms of on-the-ground resistance to this onto-logic to emphasize the violence it inheres and the defiance it spurs. The extractivist logic continues to expand into arenas where the extent of the infiltration of extractivist modes of operations has only recently been recognized. We suggest ways forward in the agenda of analyzing extraction, global extractivisms, and violence.
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The aim of this paper is to examine how territorial movements, as distinct forms of place-based social movements, organise in defence of life against the threat of resource extraction on their land. Based on the experiences of Indigenous Lafkenche-Mapuche members of a protracted struggle against a pulp mill in southern Chile, the study seeks to address the following research questions: (1) How do territorial movements emerge and organise the defence of their threatened lives? and (2) How do diverging (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) territorial relations shape the dynamics of the struggle? Combining insights from Enrique Dussel's 'ethics of liberation' with that of Indigenous ontologies, this study suggests that territorial movements emerge out of the awakening of a critical consciousness of the threat of death and the collective 'desire to live' that define the dynamics of the struggle. The findings demonstrate how the diverging territorial relations, the societally embedded 'coloniality of power', and the state and corporate induced violence shape the movement dynamics. Changes in the movement dynamics also occur as a result of the struggle itself, as the movement actors' unified desire to live continuously transforms the people and shapes the territory they inhabit.
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This article explores the potential of Amazon indigenous agroforestry practices and forest understandings for making global forest governance more nuanced and thus rethinking the value of forests in the context of multiple global crises. Indigenous forest practices and their inherent knowledge are included in current global governance in very limited ways. Onto-epistemological openings in forest policies are needed in the face of converging climate , food and health crises. The indigenous forest cosmologies and practices analyzed here may offer possibilities for such onto-epistemological openings. The current FAO and UNFCCC forest definitions are contrasted with indigenous forest understandings. While the current national and global definitions of forests contain a wide range of discrepant definitions, making the application of a shared forest policy difficult and even impossible, most institutional definitions share a positivist and technical approach to forest defining and governance. National and global discrepancies in definitions exist within the politics-as-usual process of forest defining, politics that could be challenged by the political ontology of forests that questions the deeper level of how forests should be conceptualized, placing greater emphasis on care, reciprocity, and the type of relational approach present among Amazon indigenous communities.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the politics involved in local struggles against forestry extractivism. The forestry sector is dependent on vast areas of land for tree plantations. This creates deep-rooted conflicts between global corporations that seek access to natural resources and locals whose way of life requires the use of the same land. Design/methodology/approach This study draws on a political ontology frame of reference and storytelling methodology to build on testimonies of three small-scale farmers who actively seek to resist forestry plantations next to their land in rural Uruguay. The stories reveal the impossibilities they face when raising claims in the public political sphere and how they lack the means to organise strong collective resistance. Findings One of the testimonies reveals how the farmers engage in a form of “politics of place” (Escobar, 2001, 2008) to counter the power of the proponents of forestry and the further expansion of plantations. This form of politics strengthens and politicises the ontological difference between extractive and non-extractive worlds. The farmers seek to build new imaginations of rural living and sustainable futures without the presence of extractive corporations. They fulfil this aim by designing community projects that aim to revitalise ancient indigenous legends, set up agro-ecological farms, and teach schoolchildren about the environment. Originality/value The struggles of the farmers indicate the territorial transformations involved in (un)making (non)extractive places and the need to expand the analysis of the politics involved in struggles against extractivism beyond social struggles.
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This study examines the role of states in developing contemporary extractivism based on recent investments and project plans in industrial forestry in Uruguay. This sheds light on several unanswered questions related to the role of the state and civil society in the governance, politics, and political economy of extractivism. The role played by states in contemporary extractive investments is a topic that requires studies that do more than simply analyse whether that role is strong or weak. Instead the focus should be on how states promote such investments, and on the political and socio-economic consequences thereof. Our analysis shows that the multiple roles of states need to be better understood when explaining the role of states in endorsing and expanding extractivism and its effect on the broader societal governance of business conduct. Our analysis indicates severe and negative developmental and socio-economic outcomes of pulp investments in Uruguay, which are hard if not impossible to transform as corporations can now use the investment protection laws – created by the government to regulate the state conduct – to restrict the possibilities of civil society and state actions.
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This article critically examines the usability of the concept of ‘social licence to operate’ (SLO) in the Latin American context as an indicator of the social acceptability granted by local stakeholders to multinational forestry companies. We identify four potential problems (risks of co-optation, structural power imbalances, conflicting worldviews, and the silencing effects of global certification schemes) that emerge when the current practice and literature on SLO is implemented in the context of forestry operations in Global South's rural areas, commonly marked by dynamic and contentious corporate-community relations. Based on empirical material from local communities affected by industrial tree plantations (ITPs) in a setting claimed to have an absence of conflicts (Uruguay) and another where visible conflicts have been present (Chile), we then ask: What does SLO mean to those it is supposed to represent the most, the local communities affected by industrial forestry? The findings illustrate that caution is necessary prior to claiming that a company, investment, or industry has achieved an all-encompassing SLO at the local level. Instead, to understand the dynamic and contentious corporate-community relations we argue for a more nuanced approach to how locals engage with different economic alternatives based on their own place-based capacity to sustain and reproduce life in community.
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Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has come under increased scrutiny, often lead by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs). The present paper analyses the strategies used by the ENGOs in different forest conflicts involving the forest industry. The main aim is to determine if there is a relationship between the forest industries’ links (shareholders, financiers and customers) and the location of the ENGOs campaigning against them. Fourteen forest conflicts are used as case studies, representing different geographical regions. A detailed screening of the different actors and relations was performed for each case study based on existing academic literature, publications from relevant ENGOs and companies. The results reveal a strong correlation between the location of the ENGOs involved and the financial and economic links of the companies. A theoretical framework is proposed to explain the mechanisms used by the ENGOs to introduce pressure on the forest industries involved in conflicts. The blanket nature of the campaigns by ENGOs illustrates that the movement has globalised in response to the global nature of the industry. The present research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between forest industry and ENGOs, and in assisting forest industry in its interactions with stakeholders, including ENGOs.Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has come under increased scrutiny, often led by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs). The present paper analyses the strategies used by the ENGOs in different forest conflicts involving forest industry. The main aim is to determine if there is a relationship between forest industries’ partners (shareholders, financiers and customers) and the location of the ENGOs campaigning against them. Fourteen forest conflicts are used as case studies, representing different geographical regions. A detailed screening of the different actors and relations was performed for each case study based on existing academic literature, publications from relevant ENGOs and companies. The results reveal a strong correlation between the location of the ENGOs involved and the companies’ financial and economic partners. We put forward, and test, a theoretical framework to explain the mechanisms used by the ENGOs to apply pressure on the companies involved in conflicts. The blanket nature of the campaigns by ENGOs illustrates that the movement has globalised in response to the global nature of the industry. The present research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between forest industry and ENGOs, including the strategies employed by the ENGOs, and in assisting forest industry in its interactions with stakeholders, including ENGOs.Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has come under increased scrutiny, often led by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs). The present paper analyses the strategies used by the ENGOs in different forest conflicts involving forest industry. The main aim is to determine if there is a relationship between forest industries’ partners (shareholders, financiers and customers) and the location of the ENGOs campaigning against them. Fourteen forest conflicts are used as case studies, representing different geographical regions. A detailed screening of the different actors and relations was performed for each case study based on existing academic literature, publications from relevant ENGOs and companies. The results reveal a strong correlation between the location of the ENGOs involved and the companies’ financial and economic partners. We put forward, and test, a theoretical framework to explain the mechanisms used by the ENGOs to apply pressure on the companies involved in conflicts. The blanket nature of the campaigns by ENGOs illustrates that the movement has globalised in response to the global nature of the industry. The present research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between forest industry and ENGOs, including the strategies employed by the ENGOs, and in assisting forest industry in its interactions with stakeholders, including ENGOs.Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has come under increased scrutiny, often led by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs). The present paper analyses the strategies used by the ENGOs in different forest conflicts involving forest industry. The main aim is to determine if there is a relationship between forest industries’ partners (shareholders, financiers and customers) and the location of the ENGOs campaigning against them. Fourteen forest conflicts are used as case studies, representing different geographical regions. A detailed screening of the different actors and relations was performed for each case study based on existing academic literature, publications from relevant ENGOs and companies. The results reveal a strong correlation between the location of the ENGOs involved and the companies’ financial and economic partners. We put forward, and test, a theoretical framework to explain the mechanisms used by the ENGOs to apply pressure on the companies involved in conflicts. The blanket nature of the campaigns by ENGOs illustrates that the movement has globalised in response to the global nature of the industry. The present research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between forest industry and ENGOs, including the strategies employed by the ENGOs, and in assisting forest industry in its interactions with stakeholders, including ENGOs.Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has come under increased scrutiny, often led by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs). The present paper analyses the strategies used by the ENGOs in different forest conflicts involving forest industry. The main aim is to determine if there is a relationship between forest industries’ partners (shareholders, financiers and customers) and the location of the ENGOs campaigning against them. Fourteen forest conflicts are used as case studies, representing different geographical regions. A detailed screening of the different actors and relations was performed for each case study based on existing academic literature, publications from relevant ENGOs and companies. The results reveal a strong correlation between the location of the ENGOs involved and the companies’ financial and economic partners. We put forward, and test, a theoretical framework to explain the mechanisms used by the ENGOs to apply pressure on the companies involved in conflicts. The blanket nature of the campaigns by ENGOs illustrates that the movement has globalised in response to the global nature of the industry. The present research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between forest industry and ENGOs, including the strategies employed by the ENGOs, and in assisting forest industry in its interactions with stakeholders, including ENGOs.
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This study critically examines the concept of political CSR, or legitimacy creation through deliberation, as something that can be universally agreed upon in places where incommensurable differences exist. Through a comparative case study of two local stakeholder groups - one urban and one rural - involved in a conflict over a pulp mill in the south of Chile, this paper asks: 1) why did the two groups choose different participation strategies in the deliberation over the desirability of the mill? Based on multiple data sources, the study finds differences in how each community made sense of the world through place-bound social imaginaries, which affected the stakeholders' willingness to participate in deliberation. The findings suggest that legitimacy cannot be universally secured through dialogues that seek consensus at the expense of occluded imaginaries, rather it exists as a pluriversal construct. If political CSR is to play a role in legitimacy creation across imaginaries, the focus should be on constructing economic alternatives embedded in place that supports the co-existence of different forms of life. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
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1] Afforestation of natural grasslands with fast-growing pine and eucalyptus species is increasing globally, but little is known about its effect on ecosystems and watersheds and, ultimately, the quality of water resources. To investigate the biogeochemical and hydrological consequences of this land use change, we sampled stream water in paired watersheds in Uruguay and Argentina. In watersheds planted with pine, we found no change in stream pH following afforestation, while in watersheds planted with eucalyptus, pH was 0.7 units lower on average than in streams draining grasslands. To further investigate the mechanism behind the decrease in pH, we sampled soils and streams of eucalypt catchments in Uruguay and analyzed exchangeable base cation concentrations, alkalinity, and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). At these sites, Ca, Mg, and Na concentrations were >30% lower in afforested soils than in grassland soils, and pH was significantly lower below 10 cm depth. Stream measurements taken over three years illustrate that these soil changes were also manifested in stream water chemistry. In the eucalypt watersheds, base cation concentrations were >40% lower, and alkalinity and DIC were halved in stream water. A test with data from additional sites where both pines and eucalypts were planted nearby showed that eucalyptus has a stronger acidifying effect than pine. Overall, our data suggest that repeated harvesting cycles at some locations could negatively impact the soil store of base cations and reduce downstream water quality. Our results can be used to help minimize negative impacts of this land use and to inform policy in this and other regions targeted for plantation forestry.
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Grassland to forest conversions currently affect some of the world's most productive regions and have the potential to modify many soil properties. We used afforestation of native temperate humid grassland in the Pampas with eucalypts as an experimental system to 1) isolate forest and grassland imprints on soil acidity and base cation cycling and 2) evaluate the mechanisms of soil acidification. We characterized soil changes with afforestation using ten paired stands of native grasslands and Eucalyptus plantations (10–100 years of age). Compared to grasslands, afforested stands had lower soil pH (4.6 vs.5.6, p c.Ha−1.yr−1 across afforested stands, although no aboveground acidic inputs were detected in wet + dry deposition, throughfall and forest floor leachates. Our results suggest that cation cycling and redistribution by trees, rather than cation leaching by organic acids or enhanced carbonic acid production in the soil, is the dominant mechanism of acidification in this system. The magnitude of soil changes that we observed within half a century of tree establishment in the Pampas emphasizes the rapid influence of vegetation on soil formation and suggests that massive afforestation of grasslands for carbon sequestration could have important consequences for soil fertility and base cation cycles.