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3rd September 2015


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The 14th World Forestry Congress (WFC) will on Monday, 7th September be convened by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture’s Organisation (FAO) in Durban [1]. A parallel ‘counter conference’ of global civil society organisations will begin on Sunday with a panel discussion hosting members from the WFC, followed on Monday, by presentations by international high profile speakers from organisations across the world. These include Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, World Rainforest Movement and Rainforest Rescue.

Throughout next week, the Civil Society Alternative Programme (CSAP) [2] will highlight the importance of conserving indigenous forests for the livelihoods of local communities, to promote biodiversity and mitigate climate change, as opposed to the false solution represented by the establishment of more tree plantations.

This is in response to the WFC’s continued blurring of the differences between real forests and tree plantations in order to support the timber industry, as well as the increasingly elite and exclusionary nature of the congress.

While the FAO and the WFC continue to label plantations as forests, the message brought by the CSAP is that this is blatant greenwash and a false association. Plantations are a severe threat to people’s land, livelihoods, water and biodiversity across the globe, whereas forests are compatible with both the natural environment in which they occur and the forest dependent communities they are surrounded by.


At 16h00 to 18h00 on Sunday, 6 September at the Durban Botanical Gardens Visitor’s Centre (9a John Zikhali Road, Berea, Durban), local and international speakers will be available for interviews by representatives from the media. The speaker list can be found on the CSAP website

On the topic “Are tree plantations really forests?”, an open panel debate between members of civil society attending the CSAP and invited members of the official WFC, including Manager of the Forest and Farm Facility [3], Jeffrey Campbell, will take place on Sunday, 6 September at Durban Botanical Gardens Visitor’s Centre (9a John Zikhali Road, Berea, Durban) from 18h00 to 21h00. Media representatives are invited to this event.


As part of the CSAP plenary programme, members of civil society organisations from The Netherlands, Paraguay, United States, Brazil, Spain, Nigeria and South Africa will address the CSAP audience on Monday, 7 September at Kendra Hall (5 John Zikhali Road, Berea, Durban) from 10h00 to 16h15. Media representatives are invited to this event.

Representatives of the media need to register online in order to gain access to the week’s civil society events. This can be done on the CSAP website


[1] For more on the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation’s World Forestry Congress hosted by South Africa in Durban from 7 to 11 September 2015 visit
[2] Working with its local and international members and partner organisations, Timberwatch is organising the Civil Society Alternative Programme. Formed in 1995, the Timberwatch Coalition is a voluntary alliance of South African non-governmental organisations and individuals who are concerned about the negative impacts of industrial tree plantations on people and the environment
[3] The Forest and Farm Facility is a partner organisation to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation. For more information visit


Megan Lewis, CSAP Media Coordinator | groundWork ( Media and Communications Campaigner
Tel (w): +27 33 342 5662
Tel (m): +27 83 450 5541

Wally Menne, Timberwatch Coordinator
Tel (m): +27 82 444 2083

Ashlesha Khadse, Global Forestry Coalition Media Coordinator
Tel (m) +27 81 444 8399



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