Internet activism saves rainforest in French Guiana


Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, paper edition, 7 February 2008:

An Internet campaign, started by a student and a scientist from Utrecht [in the Netherlands] has stopped the coming of a gold mine to a nature reserve in French Guiana.

According to scientist Pita Verweij, the Canadian gold corporation Cambior already had all government permits for a mine next to the Trésor nature reserve.

This forest estate, 2,500 hectare in size, is owned by a Dutch foundation. Together with student Liesbeth Fontein, Verweij studied the consequences of gold mining, like deforestation and water pollution.

Some weeks before the French government was supposed to grant Cambior its final permit, Verweij and Fontein started an e-mail campaign with the organization Ecological Internet. According to Verweij, ten thousands of protest mails have been sent to the French government. The government then decided not to grant the permit. Cambior gave up trying.

11 thoughts on “Internet activism saves rainforest in French Guiana

  1. PRESS RELEASE
    Ecological Internet Surges with Two Decisive Victories

    Follows science showing right on biofuels and natural
    ecosytems, and recent news of three preliminary victories

    February 10, 2008
    By Ecological Internet
    Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org,
    +1 920 776 1075

    (Earth) – Ecological Internet’s Earth Action Network reports
    two stunning victories in campaigns to promote global
    ecological sustainability. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has
    declared their Forestry Bill unenforceable because it treats
    forests only as wood, and indigenous and black peoples that
    have protected forests for decades were not consulted [1]. And
    French President Sarkozy has announced gold mining activity by
    a Canadian company in French Guiana’s rainforests has been
    permanently cancelled [2]. We had earlier reported progress on
    these measures.

    These decisive victories come as Ecological Internet (EI) has
    recently reported important initial success in helping to
    freeze oil palm development in Woodlark, Papua New Guinea;
    ending rainforest timber use for park benches in NYC; and
    keeping ancient timbers out of Ocean City, New Jersey’s
    boardwalks and in rainforest canopies [3]. Efforts continue to
    finalize and expand these recent initial strategic victories.
    Ecological Internet’s ecological science based environmental
    advocacy continues to prove itself time and time again.

    For years EI has highlighted impacts of ill-conceived biofuel
    development. EI led successful efforts to highlight the
    tremendous carbon released to “protect” the climate by oil
    palm production in Indonesia’s peatlands, making it an
    international issue. We were amongst the first to work on
    global biofuels’ impact upon ecosystems, food and water. This
    week science caught up with EI’s ecological intuition, as a
    definitive report shows biofuel production releases huge
    amounts of carbon as it almost always results in clearing of
    natural ecosystems [4].

    In each case EI’s large international protest campaigns
    supported active, well organized local opposition. Their
    efforts had become stymied by local power elites, and
    international protest came at just the right target and time
    to shame them internationally, strengthen local demands, and
    delay inevitable start of ecological destruction to allow time
    to pursue final victory. “Assuming success raising funds, EI
    expects to continue leading and contributing to saving the
    world’s rainforests and climate,” says EI’s President Dr.
    Barry [5].

    “The world needs to stop looking for easy answers to failing
    global ecosystems; and commence radical, even revolutionary,
    means to protect our atmosphere, land, water and oceans. The
    Earth and humanity’s very survival — being — depends upon
    protecting and restoring intact ecosystems, ending burning of
    fossil fuels, reducing human population and consumption, and
    other sufficient actions to avert global ecological collapse.”

    ###

    Additional information:

    [1] The original URL for the protest campaign is found at:
    http://www.ecoearth.info/alerts/send.asp?id=colombia

    [2] Ecological Internet worked closely with Pita Verweij of
    the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and
    Innovation. The original URL for the protest campaign is found
    at:
    http://www.ecoearth.info/alerts/send.asp?id=french_guyana

    [3] A list of selected recent environmental victories by EI
    can be found at: http://www.ecoearth.info/kudos/

    [4] More on emissions from land clearance to grow biofuels:
    http://www.rainforestportal.org/issues/2008/02/biofuels_from_c
    leared_natural.asp

    [5] Twice yearly EI appeals for donations, we seek to increase
    our foundation support, and tax-deductible gifts are always
    appreciated at http://www.ecoearth.info/donate/

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