Remains of an ancient alerce tree.          Photo: Carlos Poblete

Last week, the Supreme Court of Chile affirmed decisions from lower courts finding a former Mayor of a southern Chilean town guilty of illegally trading an endangered tree species.  More than a decade after ELAW partner Miguel Fredes of Chile set out to prove the “Chilean redwood tree” – the Chilean Larch (known as Alerce in Spanish) – was being illegally trafficked, the Supreme Court of Chile handed down the final verdict.

In December 2005, ELAW reported that Fredes had scored a major victory against a multi-million dollar illegal logging racket that was devastating ancient forests in southern Chile.  Seven years later, we are thrilled to report that the Chilean Supreme Court has affirmed this important victory.

The Santiago Times reported that Schwerter, the former mayor of a southern Chilean town was found guilty of “building an illegal network of loggers and squatters who stole much of the Alerce they trafficked from Forestal Sarao company property. Forestal Sarao is one of Chile’s several privately owned natural reserves, established in 1988 to protect Alerce.”

ELAW lawyers helped Fredes obtain the evidence he needed to prove his cases.  ELAW Board Chair Cheryl Coon first started working with ELAW as a volunteer helping with this case ten years ago!

Congratulations, Miguel!

Jen Gleason
Staff Attorney