Yesterday (26 March) the Court ordered the provincial government to suspend permits granted for the removal of around a million hectares of native forest in the departments of Orán, San Martín, Rivadavia and Santa Victoria until a study can be made of the effect of deforestation on the environment.

The Court understood that while the granting of each permit had taken into consideration its environmental impact, no study had been made concerning the cumulative effect of all the permits.

It added that “the effect of the removal of around a million hectares is something that cannot be ignored and, in the words of the representative of the national Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development at the public hearing of 18 February, it will certainly be negative”.

This decision extended the cautionary measure given on 29 December and ordered the suspension of all permits, not only those granted in the last quarter of 2007.

In addition, “it warned of the clear danger of serious damage with the possibility of significant climate change in the region, affecting not only the present occupants of the land but future generations as well. Such damage would be irreversible, as there would be no way to return things to how they were before. Care of the environment is not the enemy of development and progress; rather, the two are complementary as environmental care brings lasting enjoyment for future generations.”

The Court stated that the study should be carried out by the Province of Salta together with the national Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development, “with extensive participation from the communities living in the area affected”.