A Eucalyptus Monoculture Where Rainforests Once Stood
The paper industry has been eying genetically engineered eucalyptus for some time now. And while this fast growing tree has been used to fight erosion in Mali, many activists and conservationists are concerned about the spread of eucalyptus monocultures that are often replacing diverse and biologically rich rainforests. The Global Justice Ecology Project has a fascinating photo essay from the Tree Biotechnology Conference 2011 which depicts a field trip to Veracel's eucalyptus plantations and paper processing plant. While visitors were treated to a tour of a nature reserve, and shown some young, diverse forests, the overall impression is one of massive, chemically dependent monoculture on an industrial scale:
The primary Mata Atlantica forest once stretched over much of the eastern edge of Brazil. Large swaths of it have been eliminated and replaced with eucalyptus plantations. Veracel took us next to the tree nursery where they propogate the 17 million eucalyptus clones they produce annually. Henry Ford would have been proud. The nursery was a very efficient assembly line operation.