Harvard’s investments are wrecking lands and livelihoods



Harvard University has one of the world’s largest endowments, which manages roughly US$30 million every year. 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 trees, 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.
Harvard says that these plantations are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and they are not damaging the environment -- but the impacts on the region are clear. Damage to the ecosystem combined with encroachment on lands traditionally managed by local communities has deprived many people of their livelihoods. Damage to the ecosystem combined with encroachment on lands traditionally managed by local communities has deprived many people of their livelihoods. Plantation workers work long hours for inadequate pay in dangerous conditions.
Emilio Spataro, an organizer working with local farmers in Corrientes, said that for hundreds of years the region was rich with wetlands, fertile farmlands and pasture. In less than a decade, Spataro says, the land has been devastated by pine and eucalyptus plantations.
This must stop. We are asking Harvard University to immediately divest from this project, put its money to a more responsible use, and publicly challenge that the Forest Stewardhsip Council for allowing such a damaging project to be painted as ethical and responsible.
Please write to senior staff at Harvard using the form above demanding justice for the environment and the people of Corrientes, Argentina.


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