Qom women protecting their lands against degenerative eucalyptus monocultures – Paraguay
We, women of the Qom Indigenous community of Santa Rosa, have long been trying to protect our lands against the rapid intrusion of extractivist projects which have caused high rates of deforestation and environmental destruction in our territory, the Paraguayan Chaco.
The conflict we are dealing with now, involves a model of so-called “sustainable development” that is being imposed on us by the NGO Fundación Paraguaya. The NGO, is planting industrial eucalyptus monocultures on Qom territory as part of the organization’s program to « eliminate poverty ». Ironically, they are being financially supported by nonother than the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Without all of the Qom community’s prior free and informed consent, as is required by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, On November of 2021, Fundación Paraguaya, planted 20 Hectares of eucalyptus on our land. Lines and lines of natural water suction machines.
Eucalyptus are known for two things, first they grow fast, and second, they consume an excessive amount of water. According to the World Agroforestry Center an average eucalyptus tree consumes around 85 liters of water per day and here in Chaco we do not have much water. Because they have been planted as a Monoculture, they require an indiscriminate amount of fertilizers and agrochemicals. These are heavily pollutant and directly affect the life and fertility of our soils and the safety of the groundwater we depend on. The wells and fruit plants that sustain our way of life are threatened.
The trees are over 1,5 meters tall now. Years from now, when they are harvested, they will benefit only 40 families, not the entire community, and the soil they are occupying will require enormous effort to be regenerated if we want to use it grow our crops again. Our organization ”Organización de Mujeres Artesanas de Santa Rosa” of the Qom community has filed complaints with environmental authorities and staged demonstrations to raise awareness of our situation. We know our livelihood depends on the wellness of our environment and its crucial to enhance our territory’s resilience in the face of climate change. As a result, we have experienced physical violence and threats.
Investing in monoculture tree plantations is a false climate solution. Instead, funds should be used to preserve ecosystems and restore the natural water cycle through the strengthening of Indigenous women and community rights and empowering them to protect their land by leading environmentally conscious ways of life. Indeed, numerous studies show that leaving forests alone to naturally regenerate offers carbon capture benefits 97% higher than establishing commercial plantations.
We, the women of the Organización de Mujeres Artesanas de Santa Rosa, call on governments to ensure that resources are shifted away from eucalyptus monoculture plantations damaging the environment and redirected towards real gender-just climate solutions being implemented by us, women and girls of the Qom indigenous community.
The Organización de Mujeres Artesanas de Santa Rosa (Organisation of Artisan Women of Santa Rosa) is dedicated to defending collective cultural and socio-environmental rights. They are supported by Fondo Mujeres del Sur, which is part of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action network. Follow the Organization of Peasant and Indigenous Women Conamuri who work with rural women from 12 departments in Paraguay, including the Qom community of Santa Rosa. You can also learn more here:
- These are not forests: The Arbaro Fund and monoculture tree plantations in Paraguay
- Árboles que fundan desiertos
- Mujeres indígenas de Paraguay defienden la tierra en pandemia ante el avance del monocultivo
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