This is another depressing story about the destruction of the world’s ancient forests. I recently wrote about old Swedish forest being used to make toilet paper and today I’m going to address the destruction of tropical forest inhabited by Jaguars in Paraguay to make briquettes for barbecues in the West. So when you’re grilling your sausages and steaks on your patios, verandas and balconies have a thought for the jaguar, one of the world’s most magnificent animals whose habitat is being burnt away to help entertain people in Europe.
In the UK, Supagrill charcoal briquettes have been on sale and still are at a DIY store called Wickes. The briquettes are supplied by Bricapar. The company has a large charcoal operation in the Chaco forest in Paraguay. Their production line is fuelled by slow-growing hardwood trees which are cleared from ancient forests. It is an area which is home to many of Paraguay’s 110,000 indigenous people. It is an area which contains high levels of biodiversity including 3400 plant species, 500 birds, 220 reptiles and amphibians and 150 mammals including, as mentioned, the wonderful jaguar.
The Chaco forest is being stripped of trees faster than any other tropical forest. The land is converted to agriculture. The Chaco production is for European retailers. The business consumes the equivalent of 30 football pitches of the forest every day. The site produces 7000 tonnes of charcoal annually and there are plans to expand.
As the packaging does not contain information about the origin of the product, purchasers do not know the source. A distributor (CPL Distribution) raised the issue with Bricapar, who strongly denied the allegation. After initial resistance Wickes have decided to pull the product from their online website and it is being removed from stores as a precaution. They are investigating.
Bricapar say that they comply with all permits and environmental licences issued by the Paraguayan authorities. Yes, the Paraguayan authorities are obviously unconcerned about wild life conservation. Business is more important as usual (or the backhanders). Sam Lawson of Earthsight who exposed the trade said:
“What is happening in Paraguay is the most rapid case of deforestation in human history. It is absolutely outrageous that the major UK retail chain should have a hand in this.”
I hope people take note of this information and stop buying these briquettes. I don’t think they will. I don’t think people actually care enough about the habitat of the jaguar or any other species of animal making their home in the forest. There is no sign of deforestation stopping and remember this is ancient forest. We’ll never see it again and one day the only way we will see the jaguar is behind bars, pacing and pacing never to be free again.