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Carbon Colonialism: Green Resources' Industrial Tree Plantations in Uganda Leave Communities Facing "An On-Going Hunger Crisis"

December 22, 2017

In 2014, the Oakland Institute published a report about the Norwegian company Green Resources, and the impact on communities living near the company’s industrial tree plantations in Uganda.

Green Resources sells carbon credits from its plantations in Uganda. The only buyer is the Swedish Energy Agency. In 2015, Camilla Ziedorn, a journalist with Sweden’s TV4 Kalla Fakta programme, visited Green Resources’ plantations in Uganda. On 3 November 2015, the Swedish Energy Agency announced that it was freezing future payments to Green Resources.

In 2016, Reuters and Finland’s Yle produced documentaries about Green Resources’ operations in Uganda.

All of these media reports from Uganda are critical of Green Resources. But in each case, the response from Mads Asprem, CEO of Green Resources, is to deny that there’s a problem. Asprem’s green denial failed to impress everyone though. In 2016, Phaunos Timber Fund, the largest shareholder in Green Resources, sold its shares in the company.

The Oakland Institute recently published a new report about Green Resources. Written by Kristen Lyons and David Ssemwogerere, the report is titled, “Carbon colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ carbon offset project in Uganda”. The report is based on research in Uganda between November 2016 and August 2017.

Green Resources audit

After freezing purchases of carbon credits from Green Resources, the Swedish Energy Agency commissioned a South African consulting firm, EOH Coastal and Environmental Services, to carry out an audit of Green Resources’ plantation operations in Kachung, northern Uganda. The audit is supposed to monitor how well Green Resources is implementing the Kachung Community Development Plan, which was developed in 2016 by the Swedish Energy Agency and Green Resources in an attempt to address the impacts of the company’s industrial tree plantations on local communities.

EOH Coastal and Environmental Services’ report was published in March 2017.

This wasn’t the first time the company had worked on Green Resources’ plantations. Both authors of the audit had “prior knowledge” of Green Resources’ operations, “including the Ugandan plantation”, the audit report states.

And in September 2016, EOH Coastal and Environmental Services produced a report for “an external financing party” about Green Resources’ operations in Uganda. A section of that report is cut and pasted into the audit for the Swedish Energy Agency. EOH Coastal and Environmental Services describes the media coverage of the impacts of Green Resources industrial tree plantations as “largely sensationalist and not reflective of then [sic] operational reality of Company policies and procedures in this regard, and largely ignorant of the communities understanding of these historical events”.

EOH Coastal and Environmental Services sides firmly with Green Resources. The audit explains that although the communities had grown crops and grazed livestock on the land before the arrival of Green Resources, these actions are prohibited under Ugandan forestry laws:

while the collection of fuelwood by surrounding communities in accordance with a prescribed management plan or protocol is permissible, the ongoing grazing and cropping practices within the CFR [Central Forest Reserve] is now prohibited.

In its audit, EOH Coastal and Environmental Services found Green Resources to be non-compliant in one project area of the Kachung Community Development Plan, and partially compliant in two other project areas. The Oakland Institute found Green Resources to be non-compliant in six project areas, and partially compliant in one project area.

A biased audit

Frédéric Mousseau, policy director at the Oakland Institute, told the Atlanta Black Star that,

“Our report reveals the bias of the auditors who have chosen to overlook the many flaws of the project and the continued failure of Green Resources in addressing the grievances of the communities. The auditors allow Green Resources to shirk its own responsibilities, with outcomes that violate people’s basic human rights, undermine their livelihoods, and threaten their very survival.”