Success – 30 Million Paid for Illegal Deforestation

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For many decades, companies have explored and destroyed the Amazon rainforest without consequences. These days, however, could be numbered. In a historic court decision from November 2020, the Peruvian court ordered a local cocoa company, Tamshi SAC, to pay the equivalent of 30 million euros for illegal deforestation. According to the court decision, the company had been working for years without following the local environmental legislation. And to make matters even worse, deforestation was far from being the only damaging practice. The company also disposed of tons of waste near Tamshiyacu, a town with just over 8,000 inhabitants.

Along with the 30 million euro fine, the court also ordered the cocoa company to stop all activities. Not only that, but the company must also repair the damage and replant the cleared area. The sentence included 17 corrective measures, such as removing all the cocoa plants along with the company’s buildings, machines and chemicals.

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Detailing the Tamshiyacu Illegal Deforestation Case

This wasn’t the first court decision against the company. Previously, in August 2019, Tamshi had already been fined 4 million euros. The company’s former manager was also handed an eight-year prison sentence. For a long time, the company operated without the necessary environmental permits.

It all started to unravel when NGO Kené Amazon, along with local journalist collective Ojo Público decided to investigate the trail left behind by illegal cocoa. The illegal beans went to Lima, the Peruvian capital, where they were sold to recipients. Companies that listed Tamshi as a supplier stated that they had no previous knowledge about this situation.

But the illegal cocoa trail did not stop there. These companies would then export the beans overseas, supplying multinational companies headquartered in Europe. As you can see, it was far from being a small operation. And it took place in broad daylight, which begs the question: why didn’t local authorities do something earlier?

As obvious as the answer to this might be, it’s somewhat refreshing to know that Peruvian courts finally took action to stop it. Despite the sentence, however, Tamshi still wasn’t done. Reports soon emerged that the company intended to sue the Peruvian government while simultaneously running campaigns of defamation against local authorities and NGOs.

A Historic Win for the Environmental Movement

The court decision was a historic one. While Tamshi is still far from being the only responsible for illegal deforestation, the sentence does create a precedent for similar cases in the future. A 30 million euro fine isn’t a small one either, which could send a message to other wrongdoers. Considering how deforestation has escalated in the Amazon region over the last decade, tightening environmental regulations and fining illegal activities.

In this specific case, the cocoa company was responsible for destroying 1,950 hectares. Not only that, but the area cleared consisted mostly of primary forest, which makes matters even worse. Fortunately, this historic court decision sets a precedent for similar cases in the future. Considering how deforestation has threatened the Amazon rainforest, it’s absolutely crucial that future lawsuits follow the same track laid by Peruvian courts with their strong stance taken against environmental crime.

Of course, there is still a long road ahead, and this cocoa company is hopefully the first of many. While deforestation is still moving at an alarming rate, if similar court decisions follow suit in the future, then it should slow things down.

Buying Certified Label Cocoa

Cocoa plantations have been directly responsible for deforestation. With a rise in global demand for the product, cocoa companies have expanded by clearing thousands of hectares of primary forest. This problem was relatively unknown until recently, when reports shed some light on the issue. Since then, companies around the world have pledged to use no-deforestation cocoa only. And you can also do your part.

NGOs have been working closely with cocoa farmers and local communities, introducing them to sustainable practises. These NGOs, such as the Rainforest Alliance, have played a very important role. Since cocoa is the primary source of income for many communities, improving these practises becomes even more crucial.

The Rainforest Alliance operates the UTZ Certified label, which promotes sustainable cocoa production. Members of the UTZ list are supposedly part of a clean chain of supply, obtaining their beans from trusted producers.

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