QUITO – The Ecuadorian Environment Ministry announced Thursday that officials, troops and police dismantled an illegal camp of Peruvian lawyers in a protected zone near the border, the fourth such outpost destroyed in less than a month.
In the operation, conducted last weekend, authorities found hundreds of logs of dressed timber of different species, among them cedar, cinnamon, coconut and several others, the ministry said in a communique.
The wood was found loaded on wagons for transport via a small river that runs by the Tagaeri-Taromenani reserve.
The reserve is in the southern part of the Yasuni National Park, where uncontacted indigenous peoples live and where all extractive activities like logging or oil pumping are prohibited “in perpetuity.”
Other activities are prohibited also, including “intrusive ones like colonization, scientific research or missionary work.”
In the operation, authorities arrested eight loggers who were intending to take “the product of three months of work to intermediaries who sell it” in Iquitos, Peru.
The ministry said the illegal loggers earn approximately $3 per day for their work, while one of the logs can be sold by the lumber merchants at its final destination for at much as $200.
In addition, it said that the area where the loggers had penetrated is “a very rugged zone on the border that encompasses Ecuadorian as well as Peruvian territory.”
“In the neighboring country, the logging of wood on this scale is not illegal and, according to their statements, the loggers did not know they were in Ecuadorian territory since this sector of the border is an imaginary line lacking any markings,” the text added.
On July 6, three other similar camps were destroyed in the same sector and the occupants were captured and turned over to military authorities on the border, the ministry said.
“The presence of these groups places at risk the survival of the isolated indigenous peoples who live in these border zones and for whom the Ecuadorian government is conducting actions for their ... protection,” the communique said.
In that task, the Environment Ministry is working with the Foreign Ministry on the possibility of asking for “coordination of control activities” on illegal logging between Ecuadorian and Peruvian authorities. EFE