Land Use Program

Through its Land Use program, Grassroots provides support to groups working to challenge land grabbing and the destructive expansion of agrofuels, oil palm and pulpwood plantations. It also supports the struggles of forest peoples and has promoted ecological forestry and forest conservation.Ab hier bearbeiten

Land Grabbing

Since 2009, Grassroots has provided funding to groups concerned about the environmental and social impacts of agofuels. Grassroots is particularly concerned about the issue of land-grabbing, and how the increasing demand for agrofuels is leading to increased deforestation and land conflicts.

In Romania, the Club Ecologic Transilvania, with which Grassroots has cooperated through the genetic engineering program, was provided to challenge the production of agrofuels as another facet of genetically modified agriculture. The project attempted to develop two new regions of GMO-free agriculture in Romania.

In Paraguay, Grassroots supported the group Movimiento Agrario y Popular (MAP) to strengthen small farmer communities against the massive expansion of soy production. In seminars, workshops, farmers' markets and in public debates on radio and television, MAP highlighted the effects of soy monoculture on the environment, and the destruction of local culture.

In Ukraine, Grassroots supported CIS Alliance for Biosafety/Friends of the Earth Ukraine to create a position paper on the impact of agrofuels. This information was made available to the public and has been used in political discussions to highlight the threats posed by agrofuels.

In Ethiopia, we supported the group "ECO Yeshemachoch Mahiber" to explore the impacts that agrofuels will have on peasant agriculture. In cooperation with farmers groups, a workshop was organized which formulated positions against agrofuel production taking over small farms. The group "Melca Mahiber will" has been supported to launch a campaign against GMO trees and for food sovereignty and to highlight the threats posed by Jatropha plantations.

The Dutch group Corporate Europe Observatory CEO was supported to make a campaign against the EU's objectives on the use of agrofuels.

FERN, our long term partner in Belgium, with funding from Grassroots produced a study on "Who's Who" in agrofuels.

Oil Palm

In 2010 Grassroots supported groups in Indonesia and Europe challenging World Bank funding of the oil palm industry. Due to extensive criticism of its investments, in 2009 the World Bank placed a moratorium on funding of the palm oil sector while it developed a strategy to avoid contibuting to deforestation, land grabbing, and empoverishment of indigenous peoples. Funding from Grassroots helped groups to engage with the World Bank and challenge its draft strategy which did not address the key problems that Bank funding had caused. In 2011, the World Bank adopted a new strategy and framework for its future investment in the palm oil sector, including new safeguards so to avoid the mistakes of the past. Some key demands from NGO’s and communities were not included in the new Bank policy, so Grassroots may support follow up work to challenge the destructive impacts of renewed World Bank financing of the palm oil sector.


Over the last decade, Grassroots Foundation has provided support to groups in Eastern Europe and Russia working on forest conservation, on sustainable forest use (FSC), and around the world to support forest peoples’ rights. In cooperation with the banks and finance program, the forests program has also provided support to groups challenging the expansion of the pulp and paper industry in the developing world.

Between 2005 and 2010 Grassroots provided funding in the following areas:

The Forest Stewardship Council: grants were provided to groups in Czech, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Sweden, Rumania, Belarus, Baltic region, CEE region and Brazil. Grants assisted the establishment of FSC working groups, the creation of FSC national standards for natural forests and plantations (Brazil), promotion of regional cooperation and regional FSC standards (Eastern Europe), and the use of the FSC standards to challenge destructive forest policies and practices of national governments and major forestry companies (Estonia, Poland, Belarus).

With the help of Grassroots funding, FSC standards have now been developed in several countries in Eastern Europe, and FSC certified forestry operations are producing and selling certified wood. The FSC approach has had a positive influence on national forestry policy in a numbers of countries.

Pulp and Paper: grants were provided to groups in Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Uruguay and Germany. Grants helped groups challenging plans to build new pulp mills and expand plantations, support local struggles to resist land grabs and converting forests and community farms to pulpwood plantations, informing the wider society about the damage caused by large-scale pulpwood plantations and pulp mills.

In South Africa, support from Grassroots enabled groups to challenge the expansion of existing plantations and mills and to assist groups in Mozambique to establish a network challenging land grabs by the pulp and paper industry which is trying to establish seven million hectares of Eucalyptus plantations.

In Indonesia, Grassroots funding assisted groups to successfully challenge plans to construct a pulp mill in South Kalimantan, and stop the expansion of a mill and plantations in East Kalimantan. Funding for this work in Indonesia has increased significantly, while it remains difficult for groups in South Africa to obtain funding (perceptions that this is a developed country) and Mozambique (where few funders are active). Groups in South America have more access to funding than five years ago.

Indigenous Peoples struggles: Grassroots has assisted groups in Peru, Russia and Indonesia to document traditional knowledge, to challenge forestry laws that violate community rights, and to challenge logging, plantation and mining permits on indigenous territories.

In Russia, Grassroots support has helped indigenous peoples regain control of their customary territories in areas near Novosibirsk, Siberia, and in the Russia Far East. Many indigenous communities have been assisted to understand their rights under national law, and to challenge logging plans that don’t respect their rights.

In Peru, Grassroots supported ORAU, an indigenous peoples support group that successfully challenged the legality of logging and mining concessions on indigenous territories in the Peruvian Amazon. In 2009, however, pressured by the negotiations for a free trade agreement with the USA, the government of Peru passed legislation that removed the legal protection for indigenous territories that allowed groups to challenge mining or logging on their customary lands. Indigenous communities in the Amazon blockaded national roads in protest, and more than 30 people were killed when the police forced open the blockades. The national parliament indefinitely suspended the new laws and began investigations in the violence, and indigenous peoples' rights.

Funding for indigenous peoples has increased over the last five years, but due to their remote location and marginalized status, indigenous peoples in many parts of the world have little access to funding, and their forest resources are under threat from expansion of logging, mining and plantations.

Forest Conservation: Grassroots has provided funding to forest conservation initiatives in Russia, Poland, Slovakia and Czech, helped build a network linking forest conservation groups in EU accession states.

In the Russia, Grassroots has supported Environmental Watch on North West Caucasus which has been challenging illegal logging, road and building construction by the Russian government inside a World Heritage national park. In Slovakia, Grassroots supported efforts to protect mountain forests from industrial logging, and to increase public awareness of the importance of mountain forests in controlling floods and droughts.

Support for forest conservation in Russia and Eastern Europe is growing but is still small, particularly for groups that seek to challenge destructive policy and practices from national governments.