Published: Tuesday 31 October 2000

The proposal of a German organisation to plant trees in Argentina is facing large-scale opposition from the country's environmentalist.Prima Klima, a non-governmental organisation, is planning to undertake a tree planting project covering an area of 125,000 hectares in the province of Chubut located in the Argentine part of Patagonia.

The project involves conservation, ecotourism, forest management and tree planting in the region surrounding the La Plata and Fontana lakes. It also covers the use of a native tree called lenga, which has a high value in the international forest products market. It has received an initial investment of us $2.2 million over a period of five years. Environmentalist of Argentina allege that this project is aimed at helping developed countries cheaply buy Kyoto Protocol's emission target.

The controversy centres on whether planting a forest as a carbon sink in the Southern Hemisphere is an environmentally sound solution to global warming or just an inexpensive way for developed countries, such as Germany, to achieve required emissions cuts under the Kyoto Protocol.

Under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries can get a concession in emission targets by investing in ecofriendly projects of the developing countries. "We do not want carbon sink projects as the only tool within the Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," Greenpeace Argentina stated. The environmentalists also fear that the implementation of the project would also increase demand for lenga wood, resulting in more logging of the native tree.

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