After more than a year of back and forth in the National Argentine Congress, last Wednesday the Woods Law was approved. This paper basically prevents the state governments in this country to grant authorizations for land clearing until each state does a territorial zoning plan to declare which are its native woods areas.
In order to understand the importance of this, you can just watch the video that illustrates this article: in Argentina, many states were taking down their native woods (some of them, declared 'natural reserves' by Unesco) in order to plant soy, one of the most lucrative commodities to export from this country. In four months, there were more than 200 thousand hectares cleared.
Just think about it: in times when all we do is talk about how many trees we need to 'breath' our carbon, the northern state governments in the country were just throwing them down.
Keep reading to find out more about the law and what it means for Argentina.This was a matter of jurisdictions: provinces could do whatever they wanted with their lands because there was no national control, but the new law is aiming to change this.
The law's full name is Minimum Budget for Environmental Protection of Native Woods and it suspends the approval of permissions for land clearing for a year, in order for each province to determine its native woods. When this time has passed, those states that didn't do their territorial zoning plans won't have the faculty to authorize any land clearing or land production in wood areas.
The zoning plan has to be performed under ten ecologic criteria established by the law. These clauses aim to encourage the planing of forestal, agricultural and cattle activities without damaging native woods; to set as priority the woods that are presently occupied by indigenous and native communities; and to establish mandatory environmental impact studies and public audiences before any land clearings are approved.
Some of the provinces that suffered the most with land clearings in the past months were Salta, Jujuy, Misiones and Chaco, in the north of Argentina. Paradoxically, the congressmen from these provinces were the ones that most opposed the law approval.
Greenpeace Argentina played a great part in communicating the problem of land clearing in native woods and carried on a campaign for citizens to take part with signatures, in order to push the Senate to debate the law.
Even though the law was approved by the Senate, it has to be re-approved by the Deputies Chamber because it was modified, but as it had been approved before it is expected to come out in the next days.
Although far from perfect (and we hate to be pessimistic, but we have to see how the law is implemented and the zoning plans are performed), this is definitely a victory for tree-huggers in the country. A few years ago, nobody would have cared, which says something good about an emerging environmental concern in the Argentine society. ::Greenpeace press release ::Clarin newspaper news