Shell funding of forest protection scheme could result in 'largest land grab of all time'

Tropical rainforests
Protecting tropical rainforests would be worth trillions

Protecting tropical rainforests would be worth millions but may ignore the rights of indigenous peoples

Oil giant's investment in Indonesian REDD conservation project is a crude attempt to increase profit and gloss over its expanding oil drilling operations, say campaigners

Indigenous Peoples and environmental groups have accused oil giant Shell of funding a forest protection scheme for profit and to help 'greenwash' its destructive oil drilling operations.

The corporation, along with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, is helping a company calling itself InfiniteEARTH to buy 100,000 ha of tropical rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia to be known as the Rimba Raya conservation project.

The project is set to be the first approved under the UN REDD programme (Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation), which aims to help less-industrialised countries protect their remaining rainforests by paying them to keep them unexploited. If approved it could see the start of a growing market in forest carbon credits.

However, REDD has been criticised for failing to protect the rights of indigenous peoples or natural forests. There are also fears it could encourage a growing con market as speculators seek to make the most out of valuable carbon credits given for protecting forest areas.

Land grabbing

The losers would be inhabitants of forests who rely on them for their daily needs. The Indigenous Environment Network say REDD-type projects to conserve rainforest have already resulted in land grabbing and violations of indigenous peoples' rights.

'REDD allows Shell and other polluting corporations to expand fossil fuel extraction and continue destroying the climate and violating Indigenous Peoples' rights worldwide. As we speak, Shell is trying to expand its oil drilling operations in environmentally sensitive offshore Alaska, despite the protests of Alaska Natives,' said executive director Tom Goldtooth.

'Shell is compounding its devastating impacts on Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples by financing REDD which may result in the largest land may grab of all time and more genocide against Indigenous Peoples,' he added.

Renowed Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth international, said Shell, which has left a legacy of destruction in the Niger Delta, was attempting to cover up its continued environmental damage.

'We have suffered Shell's destruction of communities and biodiversity as well as oil spills and illegal gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell's atrocities,' he said.

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