Meeting the Minister
Together with members of ASOCIANA Andrew participated in a meeting with Salta’s new (latest) Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Minister had invited ASOCIANA to share their views on conflicts arising from the expansion of the agricultural frontier (read deforestation). Andrew was also able to make use of the opportunity to communicate some of the major weakness in the government’s current implementation of environmental impact studies. The Minister and his staff expressed a major interest in this, and suggested we might help them to run training sessions to help their staff to be better able to evaluate future studies. We hope that this link will develop further and that it may lead to a more constructive relationship with the state.
Bulldozers on the move
Anta, the region we are focusing (in southern Salta) in our search a suitable area of land to purchase lands for conservation continues to be battered by the bulldozers. Andrew’s criollo contacts in the region have recently reported having to go and literally stand in front of the machines to stop them knocking down forest on land they claim as theirs. We have submitted a written request to the Minister to send an inspection team to the region to verify the situation.
Andrew and Marcelo will be visiting Anta shortly to conduct a preliminary survey of the situation, and in doing so give a hand to local criollo in their struggle protect their rights. Later in the year we will have the additional help of Emma Parkhouse, a geography student who will be coming out from the UK as part of her study program. Though details need to be finalized, she will be engaged in gathering more detailed data on the impact of deforestation on the subsistence economy of Criollos in the region.
Andrew has recently met with Maurice Rumboll, one of Argentina’s leading ornithologists, seeking his assistance in designing a regional research project aimed at documenting the effect of forest loss across the Chaco. The idea is to document the presence and of species along extensive transects, both in forested and deforested areas, and especially along the transition zone between them. This will be the first time any research of this nature has been undertaken and should prove valuable in demonstrating the hitherto little understood effects that massive deforestation is having on the Chaco ecosystem. We aim to design a method which will enable members from local Churches across the region to help conduct the required surveys. If this works, it should help towards encouraging more churches to become engaged in conservation.
Items for prayer
· Thank God for the opportunity of meeting the new Minister for the Environment. Pray that this link may be strengthened
· Pray for ongoing work with preparing the formal proposal for the Land for Life initiative.
· .Pray for creative thinking as we design the bird survey study.
· Pray for our links with Criollos in Anta, that these may grow, and that whilst they help us understand the situation on the ground in that region we might also help them in their struggle to hang on to their lands.