Our laws make slaves of nature. Its not just humans who need rights | Mari Margil

For decades our laws have been a licence to destroy the environment. Now, from the Amazon to Australia, the tide is turning, says the campaigner Mari Margil

The Amazon rainforest is often called the earth’s lungs, and generates 20% of the world’s oxygen. Yet in the past half-century nearly a fifth of it has been cut down. The felling and burning of millions of trees is releasing massive amounts of carbon, in turn depleting the Amazon’s capacity to be one of the world’s largest carbon sinks– the natural systems that suck up and store carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

Recently, 25 infants brought a lawsuit to objective the deforestation and its devastating impacts on the environment and their own wellbeing. The case induced its route to Colombia’s supreme court, which issued its decision last month. While deforestation is hardly a new issue in this region, the court’s response to the lawsuit surely was. Commenting that environmental degradation- not only in the Amazon but worldwide- is so significant that it threatens” human existence”, the court declared the Colombian Amazon a” subject of rights “.

In 1972 the law professor Christopher Stone published a seminal article, Should Trees Have Standing ?~ ATAGEND, that explored the possibility of recognising the legal rights of nature. He described how women and slaves have all along been been treated as rightless in statute, and suggested that just as they had eventually attained rights, so trees and other nonhuman living thing should also do so.

The poisoned scenery left left by an illegal goldmine in the Amazon forest. Photo: Mario Tama/ Getty Images

Today, environmental laws govern the human use and demolition of nature. They legalise fracking, drilling, and even dynamiting the tops off mountains to mine coal. The repercussions are proving catastrophic: the die-off crisis of the world’s coral reefs, accelerating species extinction, climate change. Finally, though, this is changing. In 2006 the first statute recognising the legal rights of nature was enacted in the borough of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The community sought to prevent dredging sludge laden with PCBs( polychlorinated biphenyl ) being dumped in an deserted coalmine. The organisation I work for, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, helped the council draft the law, transforming nature from being rightless to possessing rights to exist and flourish. It was the first such law in the world. Communities across more than 10 US countries have now followed suit, including New Hampshire, Colorado and Pittsburgh.

After the decision to grant legal rights to nature in Pennsylvania, representatives of my organisation satisfied Ecuador’s constituent assembly in 2008, which was elected to draft a new constitution. We discussed the rights of nature, and why communities all over the world find themselves unable to protect nature under statutes that authorise its exploitation. The assembly’s chairperson, Alberto Acosta, told us:” Nature is a slave .”

However, that year Ecuador enshrined the rights of nature- or Pachamama ( Mother Earth)- in its constitution, the first country to do so. Since then Bolivia has put in place a Law of Mother Earth. Tribunals in India and Colombia have similarly ruled that ecosystems possess rights. In Mexico, Pakistan, Australia and other countries, rights-of-nature frameworks are being proposed and enacted.

Colombia’s supreme court was asked to consider the climate-change impacts of Amazon deforestation in the lawsuit that led to its groundbreaking ruling. Similarly, in Nepal the US-based Center for Economic and Social Development is working to advance rights to safeguard against climate change. The Himalayas- known as the world’s third pole- are experiencing warming faster than any other mountain range on earth. With the melting of ice and snowfall, a Sherpa told us,” the mountains are turning black “. But now a constitutional amendment has been developed that would, if adopted, recognise the rights of the Himalayas to a climate system free from global-warming pollution. It would for the first time offer a platform for Nepal to hold major climate polluters accountable for transgressing the rights of the mountains.

Law today divides the world into two categories: people, capable of having rights; and property, unable to possess rights. While “were not receiving” universally agreed upon definition of” legal person”, it is generally understood to mean an entity capable of bearing rights and duties. The problem that the rights-of-nature movement is now encountering is that this definition is predictably problematic when it comes to rivers, woods or nature more broadly.

In 2017, for example, the country high court in Uttarakhand, India, ruled that in order to protect the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, they should be considered legal persons with” all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person “. In a subsequent appeal to India’s supreme court, the nation government asked whether, if the rivers inundate, leading to the death of every human being, a lawsuit could be filed for damages. Could the Uttarakhand chief secretary of state, named by the court as one of several officials in loco parentis , be liable on the river’s behalf? In this case, the supreme court decided not.

Can we hold a river accountable for flooding, or a woodland for burning? Of course not. Yet existing legal systems force us to think of nature in terms of human concerns rather than what concerns nature. With the past three years the warmest in recorded history, and as we face what has been called the sixth great extinction, lawmakers and judges appear increasingly to agree that it is time to secure the highest form of legal protection for nature, through the recognition of rights.

To make progress in this area, “were supposed to” break free from legal strictures that were never intended to apply to nature, such as legal personhood, and establish a new structure that addresses what nature wants. Perhaps we can call this framework legal naturehood. A recent symposium at Tulane Law School, in New Orleans , brought together academics, lawyers and activists to develop a set of guidelines for recognising and enforcing legal rights of nature, known as the rights-of-nature principles.

These define the basic rights that nature requires, including rights to existence, regeneration and restoration. Further, they call for monetary damages derived from violations of these rights to be used solely to protect and restore nature to its pre-damaged country. In addition, they outline a means for nature to defend its own rights- like children unable to speak for themselves in court- by being the named” real party in interest” in administrative and court proceedings. The principles build on laws and judicial decisions that have begun to accumulate in this new region of law, laying the groundwork for what legal naturehood could look like.

As daily headlines tell us how we are tearing holes in the very fabric of life on globe, it is time to make a fundamental shift in how we govern ourselves towards nature- before, as Colombia’s supreme court wrote, it’s too late.

* Mari Margil is associate director of the US-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

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Poland violated EU laws by logging in Biaowiea forest, court rules

Judge dismisses claims by Polish government that logging was necessary to protect ancient forest from outbreak of bark beetles

The EU’s highest court has ruled that Poland’s logging of the ancient Bialowieza forest is illegal, potentially opening the door to multi-million euro fines.

At least 10, 000 trees have been felled in Bialowieza, one of Europe’s last parcels of primeval woodland, since the former Polish environment minister, Jan Szyzko tripled logging limits there in 2016.

Government claims that the forest was bringing protected from a spruce beetle outbreak were rejected by European court of justice magistrates, who said that Poland’s own forest management plans showed that logging posed a greater threat to Bialowieza’s integrity.

A minimum fine of EUR4. 3m, potentially rising to EUR1 00,000 a day, could now be levied against Poland if the tree fells continue.

James Thornton, the chief executive of the green statute firm ClientEarth, told:” This is a huge victory for all defenders of Bialowieza forest. Hundreds of people were heavily engaged in saving this unique, ancient woodland from unthinkable demolition .”

More to follow .

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Nestl, Mars and Hershey ‘breaking promises over palm oil use’

This years Halloween confectionery will contain palm petroleum grown on land that should lawfully be habitat to orangutans, rhinos and clouded leopards, despite commitment to clean up supplying chains

Nestle, Mars and Hershey have been accused of violating pledges to stop using” conflict palm oil” from deforested Indonesian jungles, just days before the annual Halloween confectionery frenzy.

The Rainforest Action Network( RAN) says customers have been “deceived” by promises from the brands to clean up their supplying chains which were subsequently delayed, rewrote or watered down.

Laurel Sutherlin, a spokesman for the group, told the Guardian:” For too many years, Nestle, Mars and Hershey have cherry-picked their[ palm petroleum] targets and then moved the goalposts when they don’t achieve them. There’s just no farther room for fault to prevent the extinction of tigers, orangutans and elephants .”

The last parcel of Sumatran rainforest in which these three species all roam- along with rhinos, clouded leopards and sun bears- is vanishing at a dramatic pace as lucrative palm oil plantationsillegally eat into tropical forestland.

The brands source palm oil from this 2.6 m hectare Leuser region, via complex supplying chains, some involving traders linked to suppliers illegally loggingin the region.

Nestle promised to end deforestation in its furnish chain by 2015 in response to Greenpeace’s KitKat campaign of 2010. After Ran’s ” Snack food 20″ report, this was upgraded to a pledge of” no sourcing from areas converted from natural forests after 1 February 2013″. The target was missed.

” Four years later we can now trace over 90% of our palm petroleum back to the mill of origin and almost two thirds back to the plantation level ,” said Nestle spokeswoman Peggy Diby.” Our aspiration is to raise this figure to 100% by 2020, back to plantation .”

In July, Nestle told the Guardian it could only source 47% of its palm petroleum to plantations, suggesting a big improvement in the last three months.

Hershey’s said in 2014 that it would source all of its palm petroleum back to the mill level by 2015, and to plantations by 2016. But its plantation level sourcing actually has declined in 2016 from 27 % to 14 %, and the commitment has been deferred until 2020.

Greenpeace protestors dressed as orangutans demonstrate against palm petroleum harvested from rainforest extermination outside a Nestle stockholders’ meeting. Photograph: Antoine Antoniol/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images

Jeff Beckman, Hershey’s communications director said:” While we remain profoundly committed to pushing all stakeholders to accelerate traceability and bring full transparency to this supplying chain along with our supplier partners, we realised it would take more time to achieve this goal than originally anticipated .”

Mars did not respond to a request for remark, despite a promise of” cutting suppliers trafficking conflict palm petroleum by the end of 2015 ,” which campaigners claim has not been met.

Gemma Tillack, Ran’s campaign director said:” It is our view that the brands have misled customers by constantly claiming to be tackling deforestation when they have not executed the actions required to achieve a moratorium on the forest frontlines of their global render chains .”

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Vast animal-feed crops to satisfy our meat needs are destroying planet

WWF report finds 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets which set huge strain on Earths resources

The ongoing global craving for meat is having a devastating impact on the environment driven by the production of crop-based feed for animals, a new report has advised.

The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, animals and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study from the conservation charity WWF.

Intensive and industrial animal agriculture also results in less nutritious food, it reveals, highlighting that six intensively reared chickens today have the same sum of omega-3 as found in simply one chicken in the 1970 s.

The study entitled Appetite for Destruction launchings on Thursday at the 2017 Extinction and Livestock Conference in London, in conjunction with Compassion in World Farming( CIFW ), and warns of the vast sum of land needed to grow the harvests used for animal feed and cites some of the world’s most vulnerable areas such as the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas.

The report and seminar come against a background of alarming revelations of industrial agriculture. Last week a Guardian/ ITV investigation showed chicken mill staff in the UK changing crucial food safety information.

Protein-rich soy is now produced in such huge quantities that the average European ingests approximately 61 kg per year, largely indirectly by feeing animal products such as chicken, pork, salmon, cheese, milk and eggs.

In 2010, the British livestock industry required an region the size of Yorkshire to makes the soy used in feed. But if global demand for meat grows as expected, the report says, soy production would need to increase by virtually 80% by 2050.

” The world is eating more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife ,” said Duncan Williamson, WWF food policy manager.” A staggering 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we feed. We know a lot of people are aware that a meat-based diet has an impact on water and land, as well as causing greenhouse gas emissions, but few know the biggest issue of all comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat .”

With 23 bn chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and guinea fowls on the planet- more than three per person- the biggest user of crop-based feed globally is poultry. The second largest, with 30% of the world’s feed in 2009, is the animal industry.

In the UK, pork is the second favourite meat after chicken, with each person eating on average 25 kg a year in 2015- nearly the whole recommended yearly intake for all meats. UK nutritional guidelines recommend 45 -5 5g of protein per day, but the average UK consumption is 64 -8 8g, of which 37% is meat and meat products.

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Brazil’s worst month ever for forest fires blamed on human activity

September considered more fires than any month on record, as experts say uptick is due to expansion of agriculture and reduction of oversight and surveillance

Brazil has watched more forest flames in September than in any single month since records began, and authorities have warned that 2017 could outshine the worst year on record if action is not taken soon.

Experts say that the flames are almost exclusively due to human activity, and they attribute the uptick to the expansion of agriculture and a reduction of oversight and surveillance. Lower than average rainfall in this year’s dry season is also an exacerbating factor.

The National Institute of Space Research( INPE) has seen 106,000 flames destroying natural vegetation so far this month- the highest number in a single month since records began in 1998, said Alberto Setzer, coordinator of INPE’s fire monitoring satellite program.

” It is fundamental to understand that these are not natural flames. They are manmade ,” Setzer said.

Fires are commonly used during Brazil‘s dry period to deforest land and clear it for creating cattles or other agricultural or extraction purposes.

The total number of blazes since 1 January was 196,000, and Seltzer expressed concern that- with the dry season continuing in Brazil’s Amazon- 2017 could outdo the worst year on record, 2004, when there were 270,000 fires.

According to INPE, deforestation has risen endlessly since 2012, when a new forest code that devoted amnesty to deforesters was introduced. The last available data for 2016 indicated a 29% rise since the previous year.

Burning is illegal and carries heavy penalties, but fire is often used to clear land for grassland or harvests and hunting or results from land conflicts.

A burning wood at nightfall in Brazil. Deforestation has risen endlessly since 2012, the INPE says. Photo: Brasil2/ Getty Images

The problem was compounded, Setzer said, by a lack of oversight and manpower to contain the blazes.

” When there is a reduction in checks and surveillance, we see an increase in the number of flames ,” he said.

The government of chairperson Michel Temer has been heavily criticized by environmentalists for making deep cuts to the country’s environmental budget, which have affected the ability of Brazil’s environmental police to perform inspections and raids.

In September, after a month-long battle, firefighters gave up on a flame in Tocantins state park, believed to have been lighted by local fishermen and be borne by strong winds during an intensive dry period. An region three times the size of Sao Paulo was destroyed, according to local media.

” The Temer government’s policies signal for those in the countryside that the doors are open for more deforestation and more flames ,” said Cristiane Mazzetti, a Greenpeace Brazil campaigner, listing a series of measures by the Temer government including reducing protected Amazon forest areas and devoting amnesty to land grabbers.

Critics say Temer is acting at the behest of powerful ranching and mining interests inside congress. Lately, the government was highly criticized for opening hours a vast Amazon reserve for international mining, a decree that was later revoked.

The nations most affected by flames this year have been in the Amazon, increasingly targeted by ranchers and miners, with the Amazon biome accounting for 49% of the burnings.

The Amazonian state of Para was the worst affected, with a 229% increase in flames from last year. It is home to the two hardest hit municipalities, Sao Felix de Xingu and Altamira, home of Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte dam project.

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Ecuadorians denounce foreign loggers in Yasuni national park

David Hill: Interview with anthropologist Jos Proao on perils to indigenous peoples in isolation were imposed by timber trade

Three NGOs in Ecuador marked the UNs World Environment Day last week by releasing a report alleging that illegal loggers are operating in the famous Yasun National Park in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse places in the world. The loggers are traversing the border from Peru and mainly extracting cedar from provinces used by indigenous peoples living in isolation, according to the NGOs.

The report focuses on a reconnaissance trip constructed in May which documented illegal logging in the park, as well as massive commercial hunting and the abandonment of premises supposedly run by the Environment Ministry and military. The trip was induced, the report states, after several government visits to the region in recent years which confirmed that illegal loggers and hunters were operating, but led to virtually no action being taken to stop them. On one occasion illegal timber was confiscated, but it was recovered by Peruvian loggers, it is claimed, in a possible violent assault against[ an Ecuadorian] military post.

The report, written by the Fundacin Alejandro Labaka, Accin Ecolgica and Land is Life, acknowledges that illegal logging has been a problem for years in Yasun, but states that now it is intensifying – and made worse by oil operations to the north. The fears are numerous: violent raids, retaliation killings, kidnappings, fatal epidemics, dependency. Here Land is Lifes Jos Proao, during a visit to Peru, tells the Guardian what is going on 😛 TAGEND

DH: Are you able to estimate the number of loggers or logging camps in Yasun?

JP: Weve situated around 20 places where loggers are currently operating. I cant say to you the exact number of camps as such. Some are very big – where they keep their provisions, their petrol, their equipment – whereas others are smaller, more improvised, in the areas where they are cutting cedar.

Map demonstrating points where the reconnaissance journey found evidence of logging, marked by red starrings, and hunting, marked by crossings. The black line is the Ecuador-Peru border, with Ecuador to the west and Peru to the east. Photograph: Fundacin Alejandro Labaka, Accin Ecolgica, Land is Life

DH: Where in the park?

JP: In the far east right on the border with Peru. The exact locations are the River Nashio, which births in Ecuador and traverses into Peru and fulfils the River Napo, as well as the River Lobo, and – this is what has surprised us the most – the River Curaray. This is a very wide river, easy to navigate. There used to be at least three[ Ecuadorian] military post there, and among their responsibilities was keeping watch on the river. What astounded us is that the loggers have come upriver and established their camps along the banks.

DH: A basic question, but I must ask it. Is logging prohibited in national park in Ecuador?

JP: Definitely. And even more so in the Tagaeri Taromenane Intangible Zone[ TTIZ, a 758,000 hectare area inside the park and Waroani territory where the loggers are reported to be operating ]. . . This has a very special category of protection. Not merely is it protected like all national parks, but also by two articles in the Constitution . . .[ one of which ], Article 57, states that all territories occupied by indigenous peoples in isolation should be intangible.[ The TTIZ] was established in 1999, but this has given rise to a situation that, from my perspective, is very regard. It is that the idea of protecting indigenous peoples in isolation has always been seen from an environmental point of view. Thats to tell: If were protecting the national park, then instantly, automatically, were protecting the indigenous peoples in isolation. Thats a serious fault. They have human rights guaranteed in the Constitution and now internationally. Theyre not part of the parks fauna.

DH: Another basic question, but I must also ask it. How do you know the loggers are there? Whats the evidence?

JP: The proof dates from 2015 when during overflights we saw-

DH: Have you participated in the overflights?

JP: Yes, Ive been on various overflights. Weve find[ the loggers ]. We have photos and GPS coordinates. We began to see theyre opening up tracks, very close to the border. Later, the authorities stimulated various visits to the region and confirmed that it is illegal logging.

DH: Who are the loggers?

JP: Theyre coming upriver from Peru. If you were to arrive at the border, youd see that the Peruvian side including with regard to has been seriously impacted by logging. Seriously impacted . . . but merely on the Peruvian side, where there are various valuable species. On the Ecuadorian side the focus has been on cedar – two types of cedar.

DH: That was my next question: the species theyre after. Cedar above all?

JP: On the Ecuadorian side, cedar including with regard to. Two types. But theyre also doing a lot of hunting. Hunting is banned in[ the TTIZ] too. Theyre even hunting various threatened species, like armadillos. You can see the remains. Tortoises. And theyve constructed various stations to smoke the meat.

The remains of a cedar tree, 50 metres from the River Curaray, procured during the course of its reconnaissance trip. Photograph: Agencia Tegantai

DH: The people doing the hunting . . . Same as the loggers, or others?

JP: They work together. We dont know if there are teams specifically dedicated to hunting and others dedicated to logging, or if theyre the same. We dont have those details yet.

DH: And the smoked meat . . . That also leaves for Peru?

JP: Definitely. And it seems that, given the size of the stations theyve built to do the smoking, its not a subsistence activity. Thats to tell, theyre not hunting to feed themselves. It appears that this is commercial. Members of the indigenous communities[ in the region] say, Well, this is what you do if you want to sell it. Weve procured spent cartridges and rubbish theyve left behind, and theyre all products of Peruvian origin.

One of the stations built to smoke meat received during the course of its reconnaissance journey. Photo: Edu Leon

DH: A group of you lately entered the region, right?

JP: We began to see[ evidence of the logging] in 2015. Immediately we informed the authorities concerned. Subsequently, representatives from the[ indigenous] communities along the Curaray spoke with researchers like myself as well as the authorities – those in charge of protecting the area, the park guards – and told them that there are foreigners logging in the park. The reply by the government was inefficient or ineffective.

DH: What has it done?

JP: It is suggested that theyve entered the region three or four times and corroborated what is happening – so the governmental forces knows that outsiders are in territories used by indigenous peoples in isolation . . . We spoke to others living in the region, including the Waoranis in the[ TTIZ ], and it was decided, together, to make a reconnaissance trip-up. Accin Ecolgica, Land is Life and the Fundacin Alejandro Labaka joined forces. It was concurred we would enter via the River Shiripuno . . . Groups from different indigenous nations participated too.

DH: In the trip-up?

JP: Yes. Waoranis, Kichwas from Sarayacu, Zaparas, Kichwas from the region, and settlers too . . . We dont know if the Taromenanes[ one of the indigenous groups in isolation] will be answered like they have in the past – with assaults, violence – to defend their territories. Rather than attack the loggers, they might attack local people, particularly if they take part[ in the logging ], as has happened in the past. Thats very possible. Due to how abandoned the region is. The state has almost no presence there. There are no economic opportunities for local people . . .[ and so] the only economic opportunity right now in the Curaray region is illegal logging. Were concerned that the communities could become involved.

DH: Do you think its possible some people[ of the states of the region] are working for the loggers coming from Peru? Theyre the ones who know the forest best. Or is there no proof?

JP: There isnt any evidence for that yet, but thats what happened in the past . . . Something that we do know is that the military know the loggers and what theyre doing, but havent taken the necessary measures in response. I dont know if this is because of a lack of control, or absence of superiors. The military is abandoned too. There are just two or three posts protecting an enormous border. And the loggers are dedicating the military food and drink. Theres a kind of co-existence.

DH: You mentioned the Taromenanes earlier. Whats the main danger for them? What is your main concern about loggers invading this part of the park?

JP: Years ago, in the early 2000 s, numerous loggers installed themselves at the other aim of the park, near the petroleum roads, and there were various violent encounters. Loggers were speared by the Taromenanes – we dont know exactly what violence the loggers might have done to them. In 2003 it wasnt loggers directly, but they were involved in provoking the Waoranis to assault the Taromenanes, and about 20 were killed. Today we know that there are indigenous peoples in isolation less than 20 kms from where the loggers are. In recent years the Taromenanes have shown theyre capable of assaulting more than 40 kms away from their homes and gardens . . . I imagine the Taromenanes are very concerned[ about the loggers ], particularly because of the noise the chainsaws make and the pressure on resources. The hunting is intensive and commercial.[ And these are] the resources the Taromenanes depend on.

DH: Are the Taromenanes the only group in isolation in this part of the park or are there others? The Tagaeris?

JP: I cant tell you if the group[ closest to the border] is currently directly connected to the Waoranis or if its a group that separated from them many years ago . . . They could be[ Taromenanes ]. Well have to keep on trying to identify who they are.

DH: So when youre talking about the possible impacts of loggers on indigenous peoples in isolation in this part of the park, there is both this[ unidentified] group near the border and the Taromenanes?

JP: Yes.

DH: And have you heard of any contact between them and the loggers?

JP: Not with the loggers, but yes with the communities along the Curaray.

DH: Lately?

JP: Weve been documenting the presence of isolated peoples[ in this region] for the last few years. The military have reports of naked people approaching their camps. There are testimonies across the entire Curaray basin.

DH: And theres another danger of contact: the Taromenanes and others are very vulnerable to diseases. Right?

JP: Definitely. Thats the biggest fear with the stuff left by the loggers. The rubbish. They leave clothes, shoes, plastic, food . . . These are all vectors of new cancers for the Taromenanes.

DH: Have you assured the wood coming down the River Curaray? How is it transported?

JP: Floating. With big barges. They come upriver from Peru. The tree trunks are tied to them. They dont put the trunks in the boats.

DH: What are you requesting from the government – and maybe from Perus government too?

JP: In political terms: that the intangibility of the[ TTIZ] and the human rights of the indigenous people in isolation and local communities are respected. In practical terms: that the logging and hunting stops. In order to do this, were preparing a formal complaint to the public prosecutors office . . .[ saying that] illegal loggers are operating at these coordinates and these are the rights being violated , not only because its a national park, but because of the people living there. There must be better control along the border. And it must be permanent control. Its no good going in once and removing and imprisoning the loggers, and then no one goes back in. And the protocols for protecting the Taromenanes must be respected. We cant think of sending in the military to remove the loggers. This is territory inhabited by indigenous peoples in isolation.[ We also believe there must be] more attention paid to the Waorani and Kichwa communities in the region. Other economic opportunities for them must be identified.

DH: What are the communities main concerns? What do they think about the loggers?

JP: There are several fears. The first is that the loggers are operating illegally and exploiting resources that the communities – both the Waoranis and Kichwas – consider within their territories. Second, theyre scared of the Taromenanes possible reaction. This is another request to the authorities: that the security of the communities is ensure.

DH: Are you going to make any requests to Perus government too?

JP: We havent considered that yet. We need more information. Wheres this timber being commercialised? How are they operating? It doesnt is felt that the people doing the logging are the owners of the wood. Theyre sub-contracted. The loggers themselves are mainly indigenous.

A Peruvian boat on the River Curaray in Ecuador, photographed during the reconnaissance trip.. Photograph: Edu Leon

DH: The loggers are indigenous Peruvians?

JP: Yes. But theyre very poor too. They have few economic alternatives and, in many cases, theyre effectively forced to do this kind of work. Were not trying to take to court – lets say – the most vulnerable people in the supply-chain. Thats why it would be good to understand how the business functions. Who provides the petrol? Who buys the meat? Who owns the barges? What kind of weapons do they have? . . . Were going to try and halting the wood coming out, but respectfully – not with some violent incursion by the military declaring war on the loggers. I dont think thats the right way to operate in indigenous territory. It has to be an exercise in which the communities participate fully . . . and about which they are consulted. It cant be only the military removing one or two loggers and establishing a post. That would further risk contact with the Taromenanes. It has to be well-thought-out and well-planned.

DH: Are you sure the loggers are Peruvian?

JP: Yes.

DH: Jos, thank you.

JP: Thank you.

Ecuadors Environment Ministry could not be reached for remark, but yesterday issued a statement saying that protecting indigenous peoples in isolation given priority for the government. According to the statement, the Environment Ministry has just signed a five year arrangements with two other ministries to develop an Action Plan.

Weve used to say part of our policy will be controlling the traffic of wildlife and timber in the Intangible Zone[ in the Yasun National Park ], tells Environment Minister Tarsicio Granizo in the statement. This[ agreement] is a continuation of state policy that the government has been implementing over the last few years.

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