Argentina: Killer landslide as relates to failed landslide logging prevention efforts

Environmental organizations like Greenpeace attributed the mudslide to
the increasing deforestation of mountaintops to expand crop areas,
chiefly for growing soybeans. The victims were “a 75-year-old woman
and her daughter of 59,” said Sergio Leavy, mayor of the northern city
of Tartagal where heavy rains in the region caused the Tartagal River
to overflow and pour floodwater down the hills.

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After the tragedy, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez activated
this Friday the Forest Law that had been approved by Congress in
November 2007 and which says that provinces must establish protected
forested areas within their territories and will have the authority to
enforce the conservation statute. “If mountaintops continue to be
leveled at this rate, the province of Salta will be a desert in less
than 20 years,” National Ombudsman Eduardo Mondino said in the report
published in the daily Critica.

The investigation by Mondino’s office, which began in 2006 following a complaint from a Salta diocese, also warned that a commission from the Argentine Interior Ministry had issued more than two years ago a report calling for the “urgent” containment of the Tartagal River and saying that the possibility of displacing local residents should be studied because of the existing risks.

“Unfortunately this was not done and that’s why history is
repeating itself three years later, this time with even more tragic
consequences,” said Mondino, who also warned of agreements signed by
the national government for the construction of hydraulic works in the
area that were never completed.”The Tartagal tragedy could have been
avoided if the national and provincial governments had fulfilled the
commitments they assumed after the disastrous floods at the end of
2005, which included a long list of unfinished works and a stop to the
indiscriminate leveling of mountaintops,” said the report from
Argentina’s federal Ombudsman’s Office on the mudslide that took place
in the province of Salta.

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