Rainforest Action Network - Monthly Email Newsletter
August 2001

Welcome!  Thank you for being a partner in Rainforest Action Network'scampaigns.  Read on to get the latest news and learn how you can helpsave the world's rainforests.

In this issue:

1.) Highway Threatens Chile's Rainforest *Action Needed*
2.) Protesters Target Boise Cascade, Defend Free Speech
3.) U'wa Victory! OXY Fails to Find Oil

Highway Threatens Chile's Temperate Rainforest

The Chilean government recently announced that it will continueconstruction of a coastal highway through southern Chile's ValdivianRainforest. The project, which threatens to destroy one of the world'slast remaining frontier temperate rainforests, had previously beensuspended due to widespread local and international opposition.The Valdivian Rainforest is the world's second largest temperaterainforest, and the only major temperate rainforest in South America.The forest contains outstanding biodiversity and high levels ofendemism, meaning that many of its species are found nowhere else onEarth. Ninety-five percent of the region's tree species are consideredendemic. The region is also home to many unique animal species,including the Andean deer or Huemul; a marsupial known as the "mountainmonkey;" South America's largest woodpecker; and the world's smallestdeer, the endangered pudu. Thirty-eight of the region's tree species andforty of its mammal species are listed as endangered, vulnerable, orrare.

Construction of the Southern Coastal Highway will open the last intactstretch of the Valdivian Rainforest to logging and conversion toplantations. The highway may also encourage resuscitation of otherexploitative projects in the region, such as Boise Cascade's CascadaChile chip mill. Slated to be the world's largest chip mill and OrientedStrand Board (OSB) facility, the Cascada Chile project would havedoubled the rate of deforestation in the region. The project wascancelled earlier this year due in part to intense local andinternational pressure.

The highway would also open the region's forests to exploitation byforeign investors such as Citigroup, the world's largest bank and thenumber one financer of large-scale projects in Latin America.Citigroup's involvement in the forestry sector includes the 1998acquisition of Chile's Santa Fe pulp mill and forestry operation. SantaFe turns temperate rainforests into wood chips and then replants theforest with eucalyptus.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, using a science-based ranking of theEarth's most biologically outstanding habitats, has identified theValdivian Rainforest as one of the highest priority conservation areason the planet. The Central Bank of Chile has found that, at currentrates of exploitation, Chile's unprotected native forests may becompletely gone within twenty years. Construction of the SouthernCoastal Highway will accelerate destruction of Chile's unique temperaterainforest at a time when preservation of the country's native forestsshould be a top priority.

What You Can Do

Write Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and let him know that you areconcerned about the impact the coastal highway will have on southernChile's temperate rainforest. Ask him to halt construction of thehighway and to promote conservation measures and economic planning thatensure long-term forest protection and sustainable economic development.Write to: Presidente Ricardo Lagos, Palacio de la Moneda, Santiago,Chile. (A standard letter from the United States to Chile requireseighty cents postage.)

Dear President Lagos,
I am deeply concerned about the construction of the Southern CoastalHighway through Chile's native temperate rainforest. The ValdivianRainforest has been identified as one of the highest priorityconservation areas on the planet. The second largest temperaterainforest in the world, this forest contains outstanding biodiversityand high levels of endemism.

Construction of the highway will open the last intact stretch of theValdivian Rainforest to logging, conversion to plantations, and otherforms of exploitation. The Central Bank of Chile has already estimatedthat, at current rates of deforestation, Chile's unprotected nativeforests may be completely gone within twenty years.I urge you to immediately halt construction of the highway and topromote conservation measures and economic planning that will ensurelong-term forest protection and sustainable economic development for theregion.


Protesters Target Boise Cascade, Defend Free Speech

More than thirty celebrities and environmental and social justiceleaders, including music legend Bonnie Raitt, former Doors drummer JohnDensmore, and environmental hero Julia "Butterfly" Hill, came togetheron July 25 to protest Boise Cascade's attempts to silence critics of itsold growth logging practices. The demonstration, held at Boise CascadeOffice Products' headquarters in Itasca, Illinois, culminated in thearrest of twenty people following a symbolic act of non-violent civildisobedience.

Boise Cascade is the largest logger of U.S. public lands and a topdistributor of wood products from endangered forests around the world.Boise Cascade was also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that helped tooverturn the popular U.S. Forest Service Roadless Policy, a measure thatwould have protected 58.5 million acres of wild, pristine nationalforest.

In 2000, RAN launched a campaign targeting Boise Cascade to raiseawareness about the company's continued old growth logging anddestructive operations around the globe. In response, Boise Cascade, inalliance with the anti-environment groups Center for the Defense of FreeEnterprise and Frontiers of Freedom Institute, launched a campaign todiscredit RAN. Boise Cascade has contacted RAN's funders and attemptedto link RAN to acts of eco-sabotage. The anti-environment coalition hasalso called on the Internal Revenue Service to revoke RAN's non-profittax status.

The demonstration was attended by directors from Greenpeace, Alliancefor Democracy, American Lands Alliance, International Rivers Network,Center for Environmental Health, Program on Corporations, Law andDemocracy, and V.O.T.E, as well as dozens of other celebrities andleaders.


U'wa Victory! OXY Fails to Find Oil

Occidental Petroleum (OXY) announced last month that it has failed tofind oil at the Gibraltar 1 well site on the U'wa tribe's ancestral landin Northeastern Colombia. The company has begun removing equipment fromthe site, signaling a victory for the U'wa people, who have waged anearly decade-long campaign to halt OXY's oil project.

OXY's announcement came as thousands of U'wa were on a traditionalspiritual retreat for fasting, meditation, teaching, singing, andprayer. For months, the U'wa Werjayas (spiritual leaders) and Karekas(medicine people) have been praying and using traditional rituals to"hide the oil" from OXY.

The U'wa called the development a "cultural triumph," but noted thattheir ancestral land is still threatened by oil exploration. "This is abattle that we have won, but the war continues," said Roberto Perez,President of the U'wa Traditional Authority.

The U'wa's resistance to oil exploration on their territory has inspiredan international solidarity movement. The U'wa and their supporters haveused a range of non-violent tactics to halt OXY's project, includingblockades at the drill site, lawsuits, shareholder resolutions,demonstrations, and letter writing.

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