POZO DEL TUME, SALTA, ARGENTINA - Greenpeace today
stopped two bulldozers from clearing the forest to expand the GE Soya
frontier further into what is left of the Great American Chaco Forest.
Four activists on motorbikes have blocked these machines, and another
four on two helicopters (painted as jaguars) has filmed the devastation
of the forests from the air.
Bulldozers are currently clearing the forests of South America at an
alarming rate. In Argentina areas of forest the size of a soccer pitch
disappear every three minutes. The rate of disappearance rises to every
ten seconds in countries like Paraguay and Brazil, as latest Government
figures for deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon show.
"Companies are failing to act responsibly, and the Argentinean
Government stands by while rampant deforestation continues," said
Emiliano Ezcurra, Greenpeace Argentina forests campaigner. "We're here
to place ourselves between bulldozers and trees to stop the destruction
of these last remaining ancient forests".
The social consequences are just as devastating; small farmers and
indigenous communities are forcibly evicted from their land by
government-supported GE Soya landlords. All the trees knocked down by
bulldozers are discarded onto huge piles, often kilometres long, and set
alight. The cleared land can only support the GE soya monoculture for a
few years before the soil nutrients disappear. The options then are to
use more chemicals or just leave the land to become a desert and move on
to clear more forest. This process contributes to climate change,
biodiversity loss and human rights violations at the same time.
The Greenpeace helicopter was surveying the area when the bulldozers
were seen in the province of Salta, 1800 kilometres, north of Buenos
Aires. On the ground the Greenpeace 'Jaguars' managed to get to the area
in time to confront the bulldozers and stop them.
"It is outrageous that such devastation continues to take place at such
a fast rate only because companies want to feed pigs in Europe or
chickens in China. Unless something gets done immediately the world will
see the large forest areas in South America disappear in a very short
period of time. The international community should call on the
Argentinean Government now to stop this disaster," said Rex Weyler,
early Greenpeace activist, from Vancouver, Canada, who took part in the
Solutions do exist already for these large forest areas to be managed
sustainably through good forest practices like Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC) certification, meaning that jobs and wealth are not
incompatible with keeping forest diversity, clean air and water.
The Greenpeace 'Jaguars' will continue to stop the bulldozers with their
motorbikes and helicopters over the days to come.
Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses
non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental
problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.