A Complete Disdain for Conservation and Human Rights in Argentina
A report from Argentina, which would otherwise receive little international attention…Many appalling things concerning conservation happen all over the World. Now it has happened in Argentina on a scale that goes beyond provincial boundaries and yet it was not enough to cause a national scandal! This is because it was played down by the Salta Provincial Governor Mr. Juan Carlos Romero and his ruling clique. Our Interior Ministry, National Parks Administration and Environmental Secretariat to their shame, made no comments on the matter at all!
Here is an on-the-spot summarized view of what happened; and the end of this story, which unfortunately for Mother Nature`s interests, has ended quite tragically despite local protests set by Greenpeace, the WWF through its local Fundacion Vida Sivestre and some high ranking officials and personalities. Apparently politicians are more interested in easy money and adjust policies to their needs, arrogantly ignoring the opinion of the general public.In the year 2000 in Argentina`s north-western Salta province, a law [number 7107] was brought into force to establish the System of Protected Areas of Salta. This law encouraged returning to nature downgraded ecosystems. Yet, on June 23 2004, the Salta Government sold 16,227 hectares of a total of 25,536 hectares belonging to a Nature Reserve created in 1995 in the Anta Provincial Department. This sale was rubber stamped by the Provincial Congress; the reason they gave for doing so, was that the area sold was so downgraded that it was no longer self-sustaining. In other words a complete reversal of the new law! The money obtained from this sale was equivalent to US$3,250,000 and is said to have been used for finishing the paving of a couple of provincial roads. The new owners of the land will have the right to clear what is left of the native forest and use the land for agriculture. The fate of 85 members of a native Wichi tribe named Eben Ezer and another 35 non-Indian families living on this land is unknown. Up to now nobody has spoken about any plan to resettle them. This reserve was considered to be the only and last protected area in the Sub-Humid Western Chaco and thus was home to a variety of forest trees and animal species not found at other places in the country`s Chaco Region. The Wichi is a native tribe that lives in north-western subtropical and tropical forested areas and live according to their traditional way of life. Now they have lost their homeland and are condemned to a life of poverty and misery. The same applies to the other residents. According to many specialist ecologists and other experts, this area was far from being so badly downgraded that it could not be considered for returning to nature. If left alone, and with a correctly planned management, it would probably have reverted to its former splendour in a few years time. One of the birds that had its habitat there was a parrot very much sought worldwide as a pet, the Amazon talking parrot (Blue-fronted Parrot Amazona aestiva aka Turquoise-fronted Amazon/Parrot). This was a place where these parrots thrived and were looked after by the natives who learned how to keep them safe so as not to lose a revenue they obtained from a limited sale of fledglings. Now all is lost! The protests and pleas from the environmental lobby have been completely ignored too as, unfortunately, nobody really seems to care much about this scandal. This is the sad picture of a sorry situation destroying an endangered bird`s habitat and, what is even worse, leaving people homeless and condemning them to poverty and misery!
From the Proact South American Coordinator, Sergio Corbet.
4th July 2014