February 22, 2001 -- Lawyers in Chile have announced a huge victory for Chile`s ancient forests. Yesterday, Boise Cascade announced it will cancel a project to build a wood chip processing plant in Puerto Montt, Chile. Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (FIMA), home of E-LAW Chile, has worked for years to challenge this project which would destroy native forests.
Chile is home to one-third of the world`s remaining temperate forests. As U.S. timber companies deplete North American forests, they are turning their attention to Chile.
Lawyers at FIMA have been calling on E-LAW for help as they challenge U.S. timber companies to avoid the disastrous practices that devastated U.S. forests and put species in peril.
U.S. timber giant Boise Cascade has been pursuing a project, known as Cascada Chile, to build an oriented strand board facility, wood chip plant and deep water port facility to produce and export wood products. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project only assessed the impacts of the facilities themselves, ignoring the impacts on the forests that would supply the facilities. FIMA estimates that more than 1,200 acres of forests would be cut every year to supply the factories.
FIMA went to court and challenged the project. Unfortunately, the trial court and Chile`s Supreme Court accepted Cascada`s argument that Cascada did not have to assess the impacts of cutting local forests.
FIMA submitted a petition to the Canada-Chile Commission for Environmental Cooperation in June, 2000 and by August, the Commission agreed to hear arguments. This commission was created by a trade agreement between Canada and Chile. Its mission is to review citizen complaints and determine if governments are complying with environmental laws.
FIMA believes that unrelenting pressure on Cascada Chile influenced the company`s decision to cancel the Puerto Montt project.
For related stories, see:
Reuters: Boise Cascade cancels $160 million Chile forestry project (2/23/01)
Environmental News Network: Chilean forest rescued from logging (3/2/01)