Campaign to Protect Chile's Native Forests Sparks
September 13, 2002
Advertisement in Today's New York Times Implicates
Large-Scale Corporate Buyers
San Francisco -- An advertisement run by ForestEthics
in today's national edition of the New York Times dramatically raises the
profile of an international campaign to protect Chile's last remaining
The advertisement, which calls on U.S. purchasers
to stop buying wood products from Chile unless certified as sustainable
by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), draws U.S.attention to an issue
that has been front-page news in Chile for weeks - the destructive conversion
of its rare native forests into non-native tree farms.
The advertisement is part of a campaign being taken
very seriously in Chile for the following reasons:
. Wood products are Chile's third largest export.
. The U.S.is the leading destination of these exports,consuming in excess
of 30%of Chile's total wood products exports.
. A report by Chile's Central Bank estimated that Chile 's unprotected
native forests will be gone by 2015. (Independent scientists and the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have verified this Central
Bank report, "Environmental Accounts and Native Forest Project.")
The advertisement highlights nine U.S.companies,
including top millwork companies Woodgrain Millwork and Kelleher and timber
giants Weyerhaeuser and Sierra Pacific Industries, as directly responsible
for the destruction of Chile's native forests. At issue are products made
from radiata pine, such as plywood, moulding, and doors - staples of American
homes. Radiata pine, which is not native to Chile, is being grown in tremendous
quantities there, where native forests are being cut down and converted
into non-native plantations at alarming rates. These plantations are a
tremendous drain on Chile's water resources, causing upwards of 10,000
people to be without water in one recent case.
The relatively new international campaign to protect
Chile 's forests has ignited fierce reaction from both industry and government.
Over the past month the Chilean government has summoned Chilean activists
to speak before the Senate and the Minister of Agriculture. Last week,
there was a "break in" at one of the Chilean organizations leading
this campaign - all that was stolen were their computers. Earlier this
month, one of the major wood companies in Chile flew its executives to
the U.S.to ask their big corporate customers not to stop buying Chilean
wood. Concerned Chileans working to protect their native forests have been
told their actions are a type of "treason."
"We are not afraid and will continue to protect
our native forests at all costs," stated Malu Sierra of Defensores
del Bosque Chileno. "Americans have the opportunity to use their unparalleled
buying power to help us protect Chile's endangered forests."
In an effort to avert the possibility of declining
wood products exports, the Chilean government recently published a hastily
prepared defense of its wood products industry. The government was sued
earlier this month over its failure to follow its own environmental laws
as well as international standards, such as the Convention on Biological
Diversity, of which Chile is a signatory.
"The American consuming public will hold U.S.companies
accountable for the continued destruction of the world's last remaining
native and endangered forests," said Aaron Sanger, Director of the
Wood Campaign at Forest Ethics. "To keep the public's trust, U.S.
companies must insist that their Chilean suppliers publicly commit to stop
converting native forests into tree farms and start selling only FSC-certified
Leavenworth Audubon Adopt-a-Forest
PO Box 154
Peshastin, WA 98847
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