Sunday, 3 March 2013

Hypocracy and Philanthrophy

Robert Devereux is a co-founder of the  Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson’s brother-in-law. According to a 2010 article published in “The Guardian” and” The Observer” he was to donate a major part of his art collection to support struggling African artists.

 He attempted to clarify his philosophy by citing the example of New Forests Company, "the largest tree planter in Africa" which he chairs, he explained: "It has a huge community development programme. It's not philanthropy. We go to the community and we say, 'We want to co-invest with you. If you provide what labour and materials you can, we'll provide money for things that you can't get.'"
This all sounds very altruistic. However numerous reports of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified New Forests Ugandan Plantation have a different story to tell.
Oxfam has reported that 22,500 people were violently ejected from their villages by government personnel to make way for the New Forests development. These evictions resulted in the death of at least one person, an eight year old boy. Reports were carried in The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal.

This excerpt is from The New York Times.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.

“They said if we hesitated they would shoot us,” said William Bakeshisha, adding that he hid in his coffee plantation, watching his house burn down. “Smoke and fire.”

According to a report released by the aid group Oxfam on Wednesday, more than 20,000 people say they were evicted from their homes here in recent years to make way for a tree plantation run by a British forestry company, emblematic of a global scramble for arable land."'

The report goes on to tell us, perhaps ironically, that

in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming’.

This project and others run by this company in African countries (including Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda as well as Uganda) are being planted for the purpose of selling Carbon credits.

The company and the government claim that the evictees were squatters. However they had permanent houses and crops including orchards and had been there for generations. Some claim their grandfathers had been given the land for fighting for the British during the war.

Regardless, this sort of unacceptable treatment of vulnerable people in the name of the environment is all too common.

FSC-watch has questioned how FSC, aWWF inspired scheme, can allow a forestry project with such a violent history and which violates its principles, to remain FSC certified.

 The display by companies of the FSC logo is claimed to demonstrate to the public that the company displaying it conforms to the highest possible standards of environmental and social responsibility.



  1. Just another example of a nation not protecting its own people, Jo.

    Of defenceless humanity being sacrificed on the altar of the 'green' religion of Earth Goddess worship, under the guise of saving the world from an unproven problem.

    Your link re Robert Devereux declares he has donated his $4 million art collection to set up an African charity. Such outcomes as your article describes are the antithesis of charity!

  2. Hi Elizabeth,
    The climate change industry seems to be thriving with the people who are promoting it the most not being those who are paying for it.
    Many remote peoples seem to be paying a very high price between protecting biodiversity and climate change. No place on earth is remote enough to escape from them.
    There are many examples of people being dispossed from their traditional lands in the name of the environment because they do not have Western style title.
    In countries like Australia we have title so the tactics need to change. I believe the aims are similar but the laws need to be skirted around or changed.
    Some Australian farmers are also paying a significant price for environmental policies.

  3. Mainstream media missing in action on this one as usual, Joanne. Good work. I will pass it around my limited network.

  4. Thank You Dixie
    I believe I saw a report of the evacuations in Uganda in some of the newspapers but they never seem to tie the organisations, individuals, the environment and climate change together.
    Even Fred Pearce who wrote a book on dispossession and covered this particularly brutal example handled it very gently.

  5. Joanne said "Even Fred Pearce who wrote a book on dispossession and covered this particularly brutal example handled it very gently"

    as you would if you heard Tim Flannery this am warning of the repercussions from the terrible greenhouse effect. All this rain etc. I guess Tim wasn't around in the 50s to have first hand knowledge of previous rain events. off topic meander now.... Speaking to friend of mine who had land at Clermont and he recalled working in the shed for 6 weeks every day...greasing the saddles twice, sharpening everything a couple of times. This was in the early 50s. Young 40ish butcher I swap tall stories with in Rocky can even recall going to school for days on end trying to keep his cardboard school case dry. Guess its all selective recall.

  6. Dixie and Jo,
    I well remember my school days in Rockhampton in the late 40's and early 50's.
    We used to get our sugar in hession sugar bags then and these were used for all sorts of things.
    We used to push one bottom corner into the other corner to make a peaked "rain hat and cape" or if your family was a bit better off they could afford a raincoat for you..

    Every morning when we walked to school we always took our "sugar bag rain cape" or you took your raincoat . THe problem with raincoats was that they were made of black rubber. They stank of a horrible rubber smell and did not last much more than 1 season because in the tropics they perished very quickly.

    No matter what the weather was in the morning you always took your rain gear to school in the monsoon season because it always rained before you got home. I lived at Kawana (the one in Rocky, not the one on the sunshine coast) and walked to school every day to Park Avenue.

    In my childhood we went through a number of floods, some of which have never reached the levels of my childhood days.

    I remember one of the very well known locals rowing his boat (there were no outboards then) along Haynes Street and had to keep away from the power lines that were about level with the shoulders of the people in the boat.
    Some of my family still live in Rockhampton in the same area and they have never seen the floods come that high since. This could be partly because they changed the river flows when they built the barrage.

    I made some good pocket money during some of those floods. We had an old, flat bottomed duck punt and I used to ferry people across a flooded creek near home for 2 bob (2 shillings) a crossing.

    I remember my mother hanging out of a window for several hours and hanging on to the roof which had started to lift in a massive cyclone that ripped through Rockhampton , travelled due west to about backwater and then turning around 180 degrees and travelled directly back along it's own trail of destruction.

    When my father finally could get home, while we were still in the eye of the cyclone, he got up a ladder and tied all of the roof down to the main bearers under the house with number 8 fencing wire. This saved the roof and it was still intact after the Cyclone passed over on it's return journey. The roof was still tied down this way right up into the 1960's when I married and left Rockhampton.

    We must have been a pretty stupid lot of people in those days because we believed that this weather was normal and that it went in cycles of varying durations. I don't know what caused the "global warming" in those days in the severe seasons but we were stupid enough to believe that it was natural cycles.

    How wrong we must have been. We now have super smart people like Flannery and Gore who have now enlightened us and showed us how stupid we were to believe such nonsense an "weather cycles"

    Apparently weather cycles fit into the same category as the tooth fairy, Santa Clause and fairies according to Gore and Flannery , Oh and Juliar and her bunch of merry armchair experts, many of whom have never been out in a cyclone.

    Dixie, I could out-meander you any day.

  7. Peter
    I too remember taking rain gear every day to school as there were likely to be storms on any or every day from about September. We were either sent home early or had to sit in the classroom until they were over if they were violent enough. There were many times during the drought years when I wished for a return of that pattern.

    1. I enjoyed the meanders - thanks Dixie!

      It’s always nice to reminisce about old times, Peter. Those were the days! Pre Al Gore and Tim Flannery and co, we took the weather as it came, didn’t we?

      We had a lot of cyclones during my teenage years and often lost trees. It got to the place where I used to say, “I wonder what tree/trees will blow down this year!

  8. Robert Devereux, Chair of New Forests, worked with Amnesty International before joining Virgin. This Makes the company attitude that they have not been responsible for any evictions from their holdings and that the people there were squatters anyway doubly offensive.
    Displaced people are displaced people whatever their circumstance.

    1. Agreed, Jo, that involvement with Amnesty International makes Robert Devereux doubly hypocritical. And he can get away with this type of hypocrisy because no one holds him to account. So the displaced little people, such as those Ugandans, are forgotten.

      Same with our farmers who become victims of Kyoto and the global agenda - e.g. Peter Spencer - they may not be pushed off the land, but they are just as surely deprived of their livelihood.


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