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Wed Mar 20, 2013, 02:31 PM

Harvard University Companies Accused of Illegal Logging in Chile

Harvard University Companies Accused of Illegal Logging in Chile
Written by Guest Writer on March 20, 2013.

Harvard University currently owns 5,475 acres of land in Ancud alone. In Argentina, it owns 208,210 acres.

By Paulette Desormeaux and Josefina Court

Since 2004, Harvard University has created at least eleven companies to exploit the forest industry in Chile. One of these is Agrícola Brinzal, which faces two lawsuits in Ancud. The National Forest Corporation (CONAF) pressed charges against the company for the illegal clearfelling of 189 acres of native forest, and also for breaching the forest management plan – they reforested 181 acres of land with eucalyptus instead of native plant species. The same company received reforestation subsidies from the Chilean government of about CL$114 million between 2007 and 2010.

In December 2011, a small group of farm owners showed up at the Agrupación de Ingenieros Forestales por el Bosque Nativo (AIFBN) in Ancud to share their concerns: a company bought adjoining lands to their properties and was cutting down native forest to plant eucalyptus. Javier Sanzana, one of the forest engineers from AIFBN who works in the tech support program for farming communities, decided to check the lands located in Aguas Buenas, Choroihué and Belben, all in Ancud’s central zone. What he saw left no doubt.

“There were the remains of recently cut trees,” he recalled. Sanzana also confirmed that in some of the zones, there were eucalyptus trees planted less than one meter from streams, and the remnants from the cut trees were blocking some of those streams.

After comparing the land to satellite pictures taken before it was reforested, the resulting data was organized to elaborate on a forest monitoring report that was delivered to CONAF in April 2012. “There were large sections planted with eucalyptus – replacing the native forest – and there were also other sections of terrain with meadow and scrub which were invading protected waterways.”

During June and November 2012, CONAF workers examined some lands in Ancud, and issued eight infringement notices. Seven of these were due to the breach of forestation rules (eucalyptus trees were planted, even though, according to CONAF’s forest management plan, they were obligated to plant native species). The eighth infringement notice was for illegal logging of the native forest. The lands in violation of the forest management plan were all the property of the same company: Agrícola Brinzal.


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