The transfer of the public forests of Chubut

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A lengthy process culminated in Das Neves signing a decree that deregulates the power of the province and goes straight to the administration of the Directorate of Forests and Parks. The danger with this power shift is that it will allow business to use the forest as an instrument to gain profit off the lucrative real estate development in northwest Chubut. It’s an absurd plan that mirrors the implementation in the Menem era of the mining code that allowed for the transfer of national mineral resources to the provinces and further paved the way for corporations, which obviously have a better chance at avoiding the power of the petty feudal lords who manage the natural assets of the provinces.
Years of struggle and gallons of ink by a handful of NGOs working for the conservation of the world’s southern-most forests attempted to alert the public about the impending threat designed by the powerful individuals working for the mayors and governors over the last 25 years. Our complaints had the desired effect, given that in this country, it seems easier to organize mass demonstrations and headlines in the newspapers if the enemy is a multinational corporation.

It is curious that just when we put up a heated debate in the neighborhood assemblies with respect to land sales to foreigners that only a few isolated voices commented on the even greater problem of the sale of our forests to a handful of real estate tycoons with political connections.

As some of you may have heard, on March 20, the ex-candidate sat on a couch in Rivadavia, signed his name (according to some opposition deputies he signed it illegally and unconstitutionally) in Decree No. 268, where Article N ° 1 states: "It is hereby recognized that the public land located within the municipalities, the forests belong exclusively to the respective municipalities ..."
A decree under the guise of providing greater participation in the pseudo-democratic Andean municipalities hides the obvious danger of a huge turnover, which is in the hands of individuals with no experience in the field is at the mercy of economic and business pressures...

What I am trying to convey is the same message that I have written in numerous letters and articles published in the past in Patagonia; before and after several attempts of the powerful, who have "worked" for years to see this through to completion.

A short list of these “powerful” include the impressive director of forests of radical neoliberalism, the engineer Giaccone, who came to confess that this "idea " is “not good for the province but it is a good deal for many people!” Even the ultra-right legal adviser from Lake Puelo, Julio Traverso (mentor for the privatization and owner a lot of land in Comarca), and not excluding, of course, the participation of Deputy De Bernardi, who had a law approved by the House in 2002  to create a supposed "forest manager" to regulate and control the use of forests within the Andean city suburbs (this law has since been vetoed).

The plans’ intentions sound great: "Give the people shared living in these areas to better manage their natural assets."

But then begin the ever-tiring fundamental problems that closely follow the forestry debate; and to delegate such responsibility can only be an act of madness or worse.
On one hand, we all know that the mayors are not trained in forestry, and need not be, because their function is to govern. We must not forget that it was created by DGByP, where many people are appropriately trained and ready for these roles, although in the past his leadership was often malicious, corrupt or incompetent.

In short: what just materialized was stated by the governor of Lake Puelo: "A measure that will allow each area to continue to grow ."...although it's another outrageous and unprecedented decree that now allows the division and fragmentation of thousands of acres of forests, without the authorization of the DGByP minimum, which historically was the only competent authority in the field.

This will encourage the scrapping of the seven wonderful forest reserves, such as in the department Languiñeo, on the south shore of Lake Cholila, in the vicinity of Cerro Currumahuida and coincidentally in the same suburbs of Lake Puelo. ..We are talking about the most pristine forests in the province that will now pass into private hands...
A lucrative farewell gift to the "faithful " that accompanied the sinking of the Chubut Model " at the expense of the rest of the inhabitants of this bioregion. We, who continue to see the awesome display of impunity, greed and the lawlessness of a government that ignored the outcome of the polls, drawing my grandmother's jewelry through a constitutional spring so opaque like any of the management since 2003.

Unfortunately, we will only hear the issue again when a powerful foreigner wires "his” forests and does not leave us more access to this invaluable land. What belonged to all inhabitants of this province until March 9, 2011, at what time some people remembered a politician on the run who ruled from 2003 until 2011 raffled arbitrarily and without discussion all these common issues as if they were his issues and not the problem for all citizens and the generations to follow.
Will someone do something to stop this nonsense? 
The author, Lucas Chiappe, is director of the Argentine Patagonia environmental group Proyecto Lemu.


Some of are guest columnists have so far included
  • Andres Gillmore, director of Corporación Costa Carrera 
  • Amanda Maxwell, Latin America Advocate, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Lucas Chiappe, coordinator of Proyecto Lemu, El Bolson, Argentina
  • Damien Gillis, a documentary filmmaker from Vancouver, Canada
  • Jorge Moller, Chilean representative to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
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