Activists oppose Green Resources Uganda project as Norfund, Finnfund

23Oct 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Activists oppose Green Resources Uganda project as Norfund, Finnfund

ENVIRONMENTAL activists from the Uganda, Europe and the US have written to new Green Resources CEO, Erik Knive protesting against land expropriation and threats to food security among locals at Kachung.

Employees of Green Resources Tanzania at Sao Hill Saw Mill in Iringa.

In a letter dated March 16, 2018 addressed to Knive with copies to Norfund and Finnfund who took over a controlling stake of the Dar es Salaam based company earlier this year, faulted the acquisition saying the Kachung Community Development does not qualify to sell carbon credit internationally because it violates people’s rights.

“We write to you regarding Green Resources plantation forestry and carbon credit project in Kachung, Uganda. As CEO of Green Resources, we are sure you are aware that in 2015, the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA), your sole carbon credit buyer, suspended payments because of the direct adverse impact of your forestry project upon local populations,” reads part of the letter signed by several activist institutions led by Oakland Institute.

The activists said despite such failings, Green Resources is pushing on with plans to sell carbon credits to SEA which also conducted its own audit to establish shortfalls in the Ugandan forestry project which is wants the government of that country to address.

“Drawing from extensive field research conducted between November 2016 and August 2017 in the villages surrounding the plantation, the Oakland Institute’s findings are significantly different from those of the Kachung Community Development Performance Audit report, commissioned by the Swedish Energy Agency,” the letter stated.

Green Resources which has huge forests in Iringa and Morogoro regions where at some point, there was also land conflict with communities which attracted parliament’s attention over five years ago, has also been accused of giving lip services to Ugandan communities.

“Overall, the industrial monoculture plantation forestry run at GR’s Kachung site is simply incompatible with the presence and needs of local people who rely upon the same land for their livelihoods. Local villagers are forced to carry the social, environmental and other costs of this project fuelling an insidious form of carbon colonialism,” the letter argued.

Apart from Oakland Institute, USA, other organization behind the letter include: Protect the Forest, Sweden; Afrikagrupperna, Sweden; FIAN Norway and Sweden; Climate Action, Sweden; Friends of the Earth Sweden; Justica Ambiental - Friends of the Earth Mozambique; Young Friends of the Earth Norway (Natur og Ungdom); National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda; GeaSphere and Timberwatch, South Africa.

Norfund and Finnfund, the business development institutions for developing countries of the Norwegian and Finnish governments, took majority ownership in Green Resources in September this year.

Soon after taking over, a new board to reflect ownership was also inaugurated while Knive took over the CEO position from the company’s founder and majority shareholder, Mads Asprem.  The development culminated a turbulent process initiated at the end of 2016 aiming to restructure the ownership of Green Resources.

In mid-September 2018, representatives from Norfund, Finnfund and the new board of directors, visited GRAS’s Niassa operations in Mozambique, and the Head Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. During the trip the team were taken around plantations, industrial sites, and attended meetings to discuss the company’s operations and business plans, the company said in a statement.

Norfund and Finnfund are solid long-term investors and lenders in several business ventures in Africa and represent a solid financial and competence foundation for Green Resources’ further development.

Established by Norwegian national, Asprem in mid 1990s, Green Resources AS, has been planting forests in Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique since then. In the three countries, GRA is said to have employed about 4000 people.