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Chilean Huemul

South America

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.

The latest updates


Activists unfurl a banner in the Amazon protesting

Image | 18 May, 2006 at 17:39

Activists unfurl a banner in the Amazon protesting KFC's involvement in Amazon destruction.

KFC is implicated in Amazon destruction

Image | 18 May, 2006 at 0:00

KFC is implicated in Amazon destruction

KFC frying the Amazon as violence erupts

Feature story | 18 May, 2006 at 0:00

We don’t think the Amazon should be cut down for chicken feed. And from Brazil to Europe, our activists have faced violence and arrest to protest this environmental crime.

Foresters work on establishing a baseline

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 8:51

Foresters work on establishing a baseline at Mumus camp. From the baseline, the foresters sample the harvestable trees in a small portion of the forest management area. This sample of between 1-5% of the area gives a good picture of the variety...

Japanese volunteer Yu Shirai (r) and Dutch

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 8:46

Japanese volunteer Yu Shirai (r) and Dutch volunteer Klaas De Jong hug a tree as they help out with forest demarcation in Mumus, by measuring the diameter of a tree.

Sago leaves silhoueted against the sky at

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 8:42

Sago leaves silhoueted against the sky at Mumus, Lake Murray

Volunteers travel around Lake Murray

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 8:37

Volunteers travel around Lake Murray, to assist in the boundary marking of tribal land. The Global Forest Rescue Station began after Lake Murray landowners invited Greenpeace and our partners to help set up sustainable ecoforestry practices in...

Meal preparation at Lake Murray

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 7:13

Meal preparation at Lake Murray. Sago, taro, and fruits are all harvested from the 'forest supermarket'. Protein is acquired by hunting wild pigs, birds, wallabies and deer. Fish are caught from the lake. When the villagers have money, rice,...

Jammy shows off a tasty snack

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 7:08

Jammy shows off a tasty snack - sago grubs. Sago forms a staple part of the Lake Murray diet.

Children playing on the shore of Lake Murray

Image | 15 May, 2006 at 6:58

Children playing on the shore of Lake Murray. Eco-forestry initiatives in the region will help pay for the education of these youngsters.

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