2005-08-29 - 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 action.
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.