Ministry confirms illegality of deforestation in farms owned by politically-connected businessman in Argentina

Monday, January 29th, 2018

According to Greenpeace Argentina, the country’s Environment Ministry has confirmed that licenses issued by the Salta provincial government authorising the deforestation of nearly 150,000 hectares of protected forests are illegal under the National Forest Law and Argentina’s constitution.

The Ministry’s resolution, published last week, revokes licenses authorising businessman Alejandro Jaime Bran Peña to destroy 8,962 hectares of protected forest. The licenses had been issued after the provincial government sought to downgrade the status of protected areas.

Last week IDM reported on allegations made by Greenpeace Argentina that such licenses were illegal, as protected areas cannot have their status changed. Greenpeace Argentina alleged the licenses were the result of political collusion between Braun Peña – who is a cousin of the federal government’s chief of staff and a director in several businesses belonging to the family of Argentina’s president – and the Salta government.

Following the Ministry’s resolution, Salta’s Ministry for Production, Work and Sustainable Development released a statement notifying Braun Peña that deforestation at the farm must be halted.

Greenpeace had warned that deforestation at the farm could lead to the illegal displacement of four Wichi indigenous communities. Following the latest resolution by the Environment Ministry, Hernán Giardini, of Greenpeace Argentina, said that “a crime was being committed and the National Forest Law and indigenous communities livelihoods were being violated”.

According to Greenpeace, the Ministry’s resolution supports a constitutional principle prohibiting actions that “set back” environmental protection. It has called on the Salta government to reforest areas already cleared.

Image on homepage shows the illegal farm in Salta, courtesy of Greenpeace Argentina