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NGO sues to save forest for Paraguay natives

by Staff Writers
Asuncion (AFP) April 11, 2011
An NGO supporting the rights of native Paraguayans said Monday that it filed complaints with environmental authorities over the destruction of forests in the northwestern Chaco region.

The Support Group for the Totobiegosode (GAT) says that 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres) of virgin forest in land where Paraguay's Ayoreos-Totobiegosode Indians live has been destroyed.

"It is the last redoubt of the Ayoreos-Totobiegosode indians in Paraguay," said Jorge Vera, a member of the non-governmental organization that filed the suit.

Vera said the complaint was filed at the office of the environmental prosecutor and the Secretariat of the Environment.

Vera alleged that two Brazilian firms, River Plate and BBC S.A., are responsible for the destruction, and said that indigenous groups, local residents and foreigners made the government offices aware of the forest destruction, in part based on satellite photographs.

The companies were allegedly extending their land for cattle ranching and violated Indian territory near the pantanal region, a vast wetlands area that extends into Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.

"These firms did not have a license from the Secretariat of the Environment. We have observed and noted the destruction of forest in a 2,300 hectare area, and another of 1,300 hectares," said Juan Rivarola, an official with the Secretariat of the Environment.

Rivarola said it appears to be a violation of a law that punishes crimes against the environment.

Experts from his office visited the site and confirmed the deforestation, he said.

The jungle dwelling Ayoreo-Totobiegosode people are the last natives in the Americas living outside of the Amazon rainforest who do not have contact with the outside world.

earlier related report
Pension fund, investment firm buy Canada's TimberWest
Ottawa (AFP) April 11, 2011 - A Canadian pension fund and an investment management firm on Monday agreed to buy western Canada's largest private timber firm TimberWest Forest Corp for more than $1 billion.

The Public Sector Pension Investment Board and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation said in a statement they will pay CAN$6.48 per share for TimberWest and assume CAN$120 million in TimberWest debt.

The offer, which comes to a total of 1.03 billion Canadian dollars ($1.08 billion), backed by TimberWest's board, is 25 percent above the company's average stock price over 20 recent trading days.

A shareholder meeting has been scheduled for mid-June to consider the bid.

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Low-input farming for cocoa, cassava and oil palm has resulted in widespread deforestation and degredation of West Africa's tropical forest area, according to a new study by researchers at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The study was published online this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Manag ... read more

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