The Temperate Jungle of South America, which covers regions of Southern Chile and Argentina, represents the largest tract of essentially undisturbed temperate forest in the world.
Dominated by southern beeches such as ulmo and laurel, these ancient forests support large numbers of plant and animal species exclusive to this region.
These include the Darwin Frog, the Pudú deer, the Chilote fox and the Chilean pine, or monkey puzzle tree.
"Chile's temperate forests contain at least 50 species of trees used for timber and more than 700 species of vascular plants - half of which do not occur elsewhere." - World Resources Institute, 1997
These forests are also home to indigenous communities such as the Pehuenche community of Chile's Quinquen Valley, the Mapuche Indians of Huitrapulli and other local communities who have long depended on the natural wealth of the forest for their physical, cultural and spiritual way of life.
The Great Chaco and Yungas Rainforests of Argentina
The Yungas Rainforest and the Great Chaco American forest are two neighbouring ecosystems. They are rich in biodiversity and wildlife, such as rare jaguars. However, these forests are being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world. The deforestation rate of the Chaco forest of northern Argentina, is up to six times higher than the world average.
The rate of this destruction has accelerated since 1996, when Monsanto introduced genetically engineered soya beans into Argentina. Since then, the country has extended its agricultural frontiers to grow genetically engineered soya for export as animal feed, at the expense of its threatened forests, wildlife and the homes and livelihoods of many people.
The Great Chaco Forest
Over one million square kilometres in size, the Great Chaco forest is the second biggest ecosystem on the American continent, after the Amazon. It stretches across four countries: Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. It is one of the richest areas of biodiversity on Earth.
Around four million people live in the Chaco forest, most of them indigenous people who depend on the forest for food and water. Losing the forest's resources affects not only local people's diet but their livlihoods as well.
Many varieties of precious hard wood trees grow in the Chaco forestsuch as the Iron Wood tree, used to make 'sleepers' for railways around the world. When the forests are cleared to make way for soya, these trees are often burnt or illegally sold. This leads to huge economic losses. If the forest was properly managed, jobs could be created in sustainable forestry, and the environmental damage caused by deforestation and soya monoculture could be avoided.
The Yungas Rainforest
The Yungas, also known as the 'Clouded Rainforest' or 'Mountain Rainforest', stretches across 70,000 square kilometres of Argentina, towards Venezuela and along the Andes, to the north. The Yungas lies in the western ecological border of the Chaco forest and is much more humid. Several thousand people from over seven different ethnic groups live in the Yungas Rainforest.
The Yungas is considered an international hot spot for biodiversity by international bodies. Rare wildlife, such as jaguars live in the forest. Forty tree species are exclusive to the lower Yungas, 10 of which have a high commercial value, such as cedar and oak.
The Yungas is threatened by illegal logging and increasingly its lowlands are being converted into agricultural land for genetically engineered soya.
In the last seven years, more than 10,000 hectares a year have been lost to soya in the lower Yungas forest alone. It is illegal to log the forest's valuable tree species, but police and local authorities in the region are doing nothing to prevent the biotech industry clear cutting the land.
Wildlife in the Yungas and Chaco Forests
The Yungas and Chaco forests are home to jaguars. Once, the jaguar population of Argentina extended as far as Patagonia but today, these populations have been devastated by hunting and the loss of habitat due to deforestation and are close to extinction.
The Chaco forest is home to the giant armadillo, which is facing extinction. When these forests are destroyed, any wildlife in the bulldozers' path is shot. Armadillos and other, smaller mammals, are frequently burned along with the groups of fallen trees, stacked up along the newly deforested fields.
The solution Greenpeace is campaigning for is a two-year moratorium on forest conversion in Argentina while the problems caused by land conversion are addressed:
1. Land Planning: A New Land Planning Programme must be established so that Argentina's forests can be saved and become productive areas again under sustainable regulations for both people and biodiversity.
2. Land Tenure Regulation: All indigenous people and 'campesinos' must be given the right to legally own sufficient land to enable them to work and feed both themselves and their families.