According to the environmental group Quercus, the wood comes from eucalyptus plantations operated by Portucel Mozambique, a subsidiary of Navigator, and will be used in pulp and paper factories in Portugal. A further two shipments are expected this year, with a total of 100,000m3 of wood, the environmental organisation said.
Portucel Mozambique operates a concession of 356,000 hectares of land in the provinces of Manica and Zambézia, in central Mozambique, where it is introducing eucalyptus plantations. The area is over three times the area that The Navigator Company controls in Portugal, and so far only 13,500 hectares have been planted, according to a statement from Quercus.
Anabela Lemos, director of Mozambican non-governmental organisation (NGO) Justiça Ambiental (Environmental Justice) noted that Portucel Mozambique claims that the plantations "are improving the living conditions of rural communities", but the "reality" is that "this neocolonialist project is usurping land and livelihoods from thousands of peasant families, leaving them without options in life”.
"While peasant families lose everything of most value, Portucel exports low value wood over 11,000 kilometres to supply Navigator's factories in Portugal and still claims that it is contributing to their development. The promises of jobs, better lives and improved infrastructure made to the communities have all been broken", the activist said in the statement.
NGOs working in Mozambique, Portugal, as well as other countries, "have called on the Mozambican government to revoke Portucel Mozambique's land concessions due to the negative impacts the plantations are having on the livelihoods and food security of local farming communities.
"In all concession areas, 24,000 families could be impacted by future plantation expansion," they estimate.
Paula Silva, from Quercus in Portugal, also cited in the statement, denounces the export to Mozambique of the "eucalyptus plantation model in Portugal", with high "costs" for the "communities and biodiversity" in the country.
"We do not want the Navigator Company to reproduce in Mozambique or anywhere else the impact it had in Portugal, where decades of influence over politicians led to the deregulation of the forestry sector and huge impacts on the environment," says the Portuguese activist.
"Despite the huge publicity effort, industrial tree plantations are not a solution to the climate crisis, they are not forests and have only one objective: to produce profit, even if this means the destruction of native forests, soils, waters and communities. This is the business model of the pulp and paper companies, the capitalist model of plundering", said João Camargo, from the collective for climate justice Climaximo.
The NGOs called on the World Bank to withdraw its financial support to Portucel's plantations, stressing that "the International Finance Corporation, owned by the World Bank, controls around 20 percent of Portucel Mozambique's shares, and the Forest Investment Programme, another World Bank initiative, is helping to finance the planting of the first 40,000 hectares".