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Cablegate: Argentine Congress Approves Temporary Logging

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2301 3401500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061500Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9852
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6716
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6603

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002301

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OES/ETC JAN MCALPINE
BRASILIA FOR HUB ANNE BRAGHETTA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR ETRD AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE CONGRESS APPROVES TEMPORARY LOGGING
MORATORIUM

1. (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified, and not
for Internet distribution.

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Summary
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2. (SBU) Environmental law in Argentina took a significant
step forward as both houses of the Argentine Congress passed
a forestry law that will temporarily halt all logging of
native forests. If the president promulgates the law, a
moratorium on logging will be imposed for up to one year
while provincial governments survey their forests to
determine which areas warrant permanent protection. That the
law is both strict and mandates cash payments to affected
parties raises questions regarding Argentina's capacity to
implement it and keep it from becoming a patronage vehicle.
End Summary.

----------------
A Pragmatic Bill
----------------

3. (U) Argentina moved to strengthen environmental
protections in November, as both houses of the Argentine
Congress passed the &Ley de Bosques,8 or Law of the Forest,
which will temporarily put a stop to all logging of native
forests. If President Nestor Kirchner or President-Elect
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (who takes office December 10)
promulgates the law, a moratorium on logging will be imposed
for up to one year while provincial governments survey their
forests to determine which areas warrant permanent
protection. The law is supported by Environment Secretary
Romina Picolotti, and observers believe a presidential
signature is likely. Monica Gabay, an official in the
Forestry Bureau of the Environment Secretariat, called the
passage of the law &a good advance,8 but told EmbOff that
&success will depend heavily on the implementation8 of the
law.

4. (U) This version of the forestry law -- approved by
Congress after almost two years of debate -- is notable for
its attempt to balance the need for environmental protection
with an understanding of the law,s likely economic
consequences. Many of the native forests of particular
interest are located in the economically struggling nothern
region of the country. To overcome the concerns of northern
legislators, the bill earmarks 0.3% of the national budget to
provide compensation for the economic consequences of the
logging ban. Thirty percent of the resultant 900 million
Argentine pesos (approx. USD 300 million) will go directly to
affected provincial governments, while the rest is slated for
private businesses.

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Comment
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5. (SBU) Congressional approval of the Law of the Forest
represents a positive development for environmental
conservation efforts in Argentina. The law was partly the
result of a massive (for Argentina) grass-roots campaign; in
October, Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups claimed
to have collected a million signatures from supporters of the
bill. This law looks great on paper, but the lack of a
stable, coherent environmental institutional framework (i.e.
proper administration/financial controls and enforcement)
means it might end up being largely symbolic. The relatively
large sums of money earmarked for affected parties also
suggest that the law could be used as a patronage vehicle.
Still, it is encouraging that Argentina is taking affirmative
steps to protect its environment.
KELLY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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