Greenpeace Jaguars occupy Argentinean rainforest treetops

Feature story - September 13, 2007
Jaguars are tree climbers, but there is no federal law to protecting their forest - so our activists have taken to the trees themselves. Dressed as jaguars, they're camped in the treetops of the Yungas in a bid to block the bulldozers until a federal law can be passed.

Activists camp in the tree tops, demanding the implementation of the "law of the Forests".

For six days now, the activists have continuously occupied trees inside a part of the Yungas forest that's a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. They'll stay there until "la Ley de Bosques" [the Forest Law], legislation to protect Argentina's remaining forests, is agreed by the Argentinean congress.

Greenpeace Argentina is calling for 1 million signatures to help get the law passed, and has already collected over 600,000. If you are Argentinean and have not yet signed, please help by signing now.  While support from all is welcome, we need signatures from Argentineans to get this law through.

The trees the activists are living in are up to 25 metres high.  A 'land team', camping on the forest floor, supports the activists in the trees, and all of them are trained in jungle survival techniques.

Argentinean forests going fast

Argentina's forests are in crisis. Forests are being chopped down at a rate 8 times faster than the world average, clear cutting a massive 300,000 hectares a year. To put that figure into context - Argentina destroys an area of forest the size of 40 football fields, every HOUR.

Clear cutting means just that; giant bulldozers with anchor chains knock down all vegetation. Any "debris" is then cleared with fire, in a matter of days ancient ecosystems are lost - forever. The land is then used to grow genetically engineered soya, or for cattle ranching. Jaguars are just one of endangered species, facing extinction as a result of Argentina's rampant forest destruction, others include armadillos and giant anteaters.

Deforestation is also one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Worldwide deforestation is second only to the energy sector as a contributor to climate change - responsible for up to one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Forest Law will establish a moratorium on forest conversion for agriculture land, until a legitimate scheme for sustainable use of Argentina's remaining forests is established. This needs to be a transparent process, including indigenous and campesinos (peasant) communities.

Reserva de la Biosfera de las Yungas

The Yungas rainforest is considered an international hot spot for biodiversity by international bodies. Back in 2002, UNESCO declared an area of the Yungas rainforests in Argentina as 'Biosphere Reserve' because of its rich and unique biodiversity. The official name of the reserve is 'Reserva de la Biosfera de las Yungas'. Greenpeace volunteers have chosen to occupy trees inside this reserve, to highlight how even protected areas, are under threat.

Nearly 34,000 people live in the Reserve and it is home to some 203 different bird species, including the eagle and the military macaw; its 89 mammal types include the jaguar and the tapir.

The purpose of the UNESCO classification is to contribute towards sustainable development and conservation. The expansion of genetically engineered soya cultivation in Argentina makes a mockery of Las Yungas Biosphere Reserve status, destroying its unique ecosystems and peoples.

Our volunteers will remain in the treetops until the Argentinean senators takes urgent action to give green light to the forests law and protect what's left of Argentinean forests.

If you are Argentinean please don't forget to join the hundreds of thousands of people who are demanding the Senate immediately approve La Ley de Bosques. (Sorry, Argentinean's only. But everyone can help by spreading the word.)

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