01 July, 2015
Harvard University has one of the world’s largest endowments, which manages roughly US$30 billion. Some of this money is invested in forestry projects around the world, including a large plantation in Argentina which has wrecked the ecosystem and left many people wanting for work and food.
Harvard owns 87,000 hectares of land in Corrientes, Argentina, which are planted with pine and eucalyptus plantations managed by two companies: Empresas Verdes Argentinas S.A. (EVASA) and Las Misiones S.A. Pine trees consume more water than native plant species, drastically reducing the region’s groundwater. The trees do not provide food for local animals, so the animals’ habitat has also been disrupted. Pesticides are used in the plantation, polluting the air and water.
While the plantation is FSC certified, a visit to the affected area shows extensive damage to the ecosystem. The damage combined with encroachment on lands traditionally managed by local communities has deprived many people of their livelihoods. The land was bought without proper consultation, and workers on the plantations work long hours for low pay in dangerous conditions.
This must stop. We are asking Harvard University to immediately:
- Stop expanding the plantations until completing a participatory study of their environmental and community impacts.
- Remove all plantations within 2,000 meters from the communities.
- Comply with all legally required employment practices, which are currently being ignored.