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Land dispute Fibria and quilombolas, Brazil


The company arrived in 1967, as Aracruz Florestal, and started to occupy lands and plant eucalyptus in the municipality of Aracruz, later on in the 1970s in Sao Mateus and Conceicao da Barra. In 1972, Aracruz Celulose was founded. In 1978 it opened its first pulp mill, in 1989 the second and in 2002 the third pulp mill.

Besides impacts on many other populations (indigenous, fisherfolk, peasants, workers), the quilombola population, descendants of African people brought in a forced way to Brazil in the past, and now recognized as traditional people has been severe. They lost land, their forest, water and work. About 30 communities live now in the region fenced by eucalyptus, struggling to get their lands back, based on constitutional land rights.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Land dispute Fibria and quilombolas, Brazil
State or province:Espirito Santo
Location of conflict:Conceicao da Barra
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Gas flaring
Specific commodities:Carbon offsets
Crude oil

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The pulp mill complex of Fibria, supplied by this part of its plantations, produces 2.3 million tons of cellulose per year, more than 90% exported

Project area:50000
Level of Investment:4000000000
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Fibria from Brazil - ex-Aracruz Celulose
Relevant government actors:INCRA , state government responsible for police forces.
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Corporación financiera Internacional (CFI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:human rights movement, Alert against the Green Desert Network, WRM, FASE-ES and others

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
- demanding land demarcation (on-going process at INCRA) - demanding authorities to stop repression
Development of alternatives:- because of delay in land demarcation, land occupation realized over the past few years, in small areas, producing diversity of food, without agrotoxins.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:People are still struggling to get their lands back that is their right. Now, to survive, for many families the only alternative is collecting eucalyptus wood from their own lands, invaded by Fibria in the past. People are being repressed for this, accused of stealing wood, by private armed security forces of Fibria and the state police

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Decree 4.887/2003 (quilombola land demarcation)

Federal Constitution (land rights of quilombolas)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

WRM, Brazil: Aracruz sows violence and destruction in Espirito Santo, bulletin nr. 161, 2010 -

Cruzando o Deserto Verde (film on youtube) and others

Gomes, Helder, Aracruz Credo 2011, Rede Alerta contra o Deserto Verde e Rede Brasil sobre Instituies financeiras ://

Other comments:The total investment amount of US$ 4 billion refers also to other pulp processing plant

Meta information

Contributor:Winnie Overbeek
Last update18/08/2019