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In loving memory of Wally Menne

Wally Menne passed away in South Africa on Thursday 26 October 2017.

Wally worked for Timberwatch, an organization which monitors the impacts of the timber industry, and he was one of Protect the Forest’s most dedicated and supportive working partners on global issues. He helped us write an open letter to the CBD Secretariat in order to change the FAO definition of forests, and together we tried to stop the coal power plant Rampal in Bangladesh and we protested against the Swedish Energy Agency’s tree plantations in Kachung in Uganda.

This was Wally – extremely dedicated and hard working, passionate about saving planet Earth from corrupt global governments, capitalism and wasteful overconsumption. He was always there to give wise advice or to edit articles (he mastered words very well). Wally engaged in advocacy and activism, both internationally and locally, especially to help prevent the negative social and ecological impacts of monoculture tree plantations. He tirelessly worked to change the FAO definition of forests, always stressing that plantations are not forests.

In the beginning of 2017, Wally started a blog in order to help end the misinformation and confusion regarding FAO’s forest definition (which does not make a clear distinction between forests and tree plantations).

The passing of Wally is a tremendous loss – the world has lost a committed and irreplaceable soul. Wally was a true source of both inspiration and courage. We will miss you, Wally. Our deepest condolences to Wally’s family.

Wally Menne’s own words in a Global Forest Coalition email in January 2017:

“If anything, most governments promote environmentally harmful land-use activities and resource mismanagement that will inevitably result in the systemic degradation of ecosystems and the landscape, on a one-way dead-end track to species loss and desertification. Whether from clear cut logging, mining, industrial tree plantations, large-scale factory-farming of livestock for meat and dairy production, these types of activities are taking us all down the slippery slope to an ecological disaster.

The escalating global trend towards large-scale industrial crop and commodity production which demands the obliteration of vast areas of natural vegetation, especially grasslands, together with the self-sustaining local communities that they support, seems to be unstoppable, driven by the rabid madness of capitalist accumulation and control. The current ‘un-economic’ system is dependent upon an on-going and unsustainable increase in global human numbers, accompanied by the mindless over-consumption of the elite, which together provide the inflated demand for the market commodities that the corporate sector needs in order to produce and to sell, more and more disposable junk to its victims.

Another major driver of this problem is the move by so-called ‘developed’ countries in the global North to avoid committing to the most obvious of genuine climate change solutions, i.e. reducing emissions at source. Instead they have come up with a number of patently false proposals, including the burning of forest biomass to generate electricity, establishing destructive tree plantations in other peoples countries as ‘carbon sinks’, creating imaginary ‘carbon credits’ to trade in fictitious emission reduction markets, and of course converting millions of hectares of tropical forest into Oil Palm biodiesel plantations, so that motorists in the EU won’t have to cut down on their holiday trips and weekend joy rides.

Here in South Africa there are plans by the sugar industry to convert hundreds of thousands of hectares of community land into industrial sugar cane plantations for ethanol fuel production, thereby creating vast toxic ‘green deserts’. As usual the main objective of the exercise will be making short-term profits for their shareholders, while the environmental and social costs will be passed on to already poor rural communities and future generations.”