Argentinean ancient forests trashed for GE Soya Plantations

Greenpeace 'Jaguars' using motorbikes and helicopters place themselves between bulldozers and forest

Press release - August 29, 2005
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.

Veteran Greenpeace activist Rex Weyler and author with Greenpeace activists, dressed as jaguars, drive into a field with motorbikes and two helicopters to stop the forest destruction.

Bulldozers are currently clearing the forests of South America at analarming rate. In Argentina areas of forest the size of a soccer pitchdisappear every three minutes. The rate of disappearance rises to everyten seconds in countries like Paraguay and Brazil, as latest Governmentfigures for deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon show.

"Companies are failing to act responsibly, and the ArgentineanGovernment stands by while rampant deforestation continues," saidEmiliano Ezcurra, Greenpeace Argentina forests campaigner. "We're hereto place ourselves between bulldozers and trees to stop the destructionof these last remaining ancient forests".

The social consequences are just as devastating; small farmers andindigenous communities are forcibly evicted from their land bygovernment-supported GE Soya landlords. All the trees knocked down bybulldozers are discarded onto huge piles, often kilometres long, andset alight. The cleared land can only support the GE soya monoculturefor a few years before the soil nutrients disappear. The options thenare to use more chemicals or just leave the land to become a desert andmove on to clear more forest. This process contributes to climatechange, biodiversity loss and human rights violations at the same time.

The Greenpeace helicopter was surveying the area when the bulldozerswere seen in the province of Salta, 1800 kilometres, north of BuenosAires. On the ground the Greenpeace 'Jaguars' managed to get to thearea in time to confront the bulldozers and stop them.

"It is outrageous that such devastation continues to take place at sucha fast rate only because companies want to feed pigs in Europe orchickens in China. Unless something gets done immediately the worldwill see the large forest areas in South America disappear in a veryshort period of time. The international community should call on theArgentinean Government now to stop this disaster," said Rex Weyler,early Greenpeace activist, from Vancouver, Canada, who took part in theaction.

Solutions do exist already for these large forest areas to be managedsustainably through good forest practices like Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) certification, meaning that jobs and wealth are notincompatible 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 usesnon-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmentalproblems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peacefulfuture. 

Other contacts: Emiliano Ezcurra, Greenpeace Argentina forest campaigner, +5491151094104Gavin Edwards, Greenpeace International forest campaigner, + 31 6 523 91 429Photos available upon request: John Novis, photo desk, + 31 6 538 19 121

Exp. contact date: 2005-09-07 00:00:00