Last week, there was an article in a Finnish newspaper about a thesis written by researcher Susanna Myllylä about our joint operation pulp mill Veracel in Brazil. The article claims that Veracel is breaking laws and international agreements by operating in areas that belong to local indigenous people, Pataxó.
First of all, it is important to know that Veracel does not own plantations or buy eucalyptus from tree farms with land in demarcated areas. Veracel fully complies with all legally recognized indigenous lands and indigenous communities in its area of operation.
The indigenous people have made one claim that has influence on Veracel’s land. The claim is for altogether 52,748 hectares of land as an expansion of Indian Territory Barra Velha. Veracel owns 3,219 hectares of this land and 1,353 hectares are planted with eucalyptus in accordance with legal environmental permits. When Veracel bought this land in 1997, the near-by indigenous community did not present any claims for that area, but the claims were presented after 2000. The title to this land was well-documented.
Hundreds of properties and part of a federal conservation unit (Discovery National Park) are within this area claimed by Pataxó people. Of the total claimed, only 6.2 % are owned by Veracel, including eucalyptus plantations and protected areas. The matter is handled in the federal court, and Veracel has informed that it will abide with the decision of the court and not contest this decision.
Veracel conducts active dialogue with its stakeholders and aims at treating all equally. There are several on-going programmes e.g. to enhance family agriculture in the area. Veracel has published an externally verified GRI sustainability report that can be found on the company’s web pages (veracel.com.br). The 2013 report is available in Portuguese, the English version is being translated.