Hernán Giardini
Hernán Giardini

Almost ten years have passed since the enactment of the Forest Law, an essential tool to solve the forest emergency our country is suffering. Although in the last three years deforestation has halved, the law is not being enforced as it should: since its sanction, at the end of 2007, 2,403,240 hectares were dismantled in the country, of which more than 750,000 were protected forests. This evidence reaffirms the urgent need to have a law that penalizes those who deforest illegally. Today, for destroying areas forbidden by law, derisory fines are paid, that are only change for the big businessmen. Destroyed hectares prove and make evident that it is not enough.

The area of destroyed forests between January and June of this year in Salta, Santiago del Estero, Formosa and Chaco surpassed the surface of 45 thousand hectares, and 42 percent occurred in areas where it was prohibited. The situation is not encouraging. Many businessmen dismount where they can not, paying a derisory fine, or getting a permit to do so. The law clearly states that in yellow and red areas no clearing permits can be granted. Thus, complicity between governments and those who dismantle is increasingly clear and evident. Politicians must understand once and for all that protecting forests is neither a utopia nor a favor they should do us: it is their obligation.

Therefore, because we can not bear more tolerance to clearing and we can not be indifferent to the destruction of our native forests, Greenpeace presented at the National Congress the draft Law on the Protection of Native Forests, which establishes a penalty of 2 to 10 years of imprisonment to those who deforest without authorization or intentionally cause a forest fire, and to public officials who collaborate in the crime. The  violation of the Forest Law is systematic and there is something that should be clear: those who deforest illegally are not businessmen, they are delinquents.

Just as after 10 years of campaign Greenpeace along with other environmental organizations have managed to have a Forest Law. Today we need another tool to solve the forest emergency in our country. According to the United Nations, Argentina is among the 10 countries that destroyed most of its forests in the last 25 years, with only 27 million hectares of native forests remaining, 27 percent of the original area. Forests are our natural sponge and play a key role in the regulation of climate change. Deforestation is not only a loss of biodiversity but a direct cause of floods; one hectare with forests absorbs ten times more rainfall than one hectare with soy. Are more reasons needed to protect our forests, valuable ecosystems and rich in biodiversity? The request is one and it is urgent: a forest crime law is needed.