Greenpeace Uses SMS To Monitors Forest Destruction

Greenpeace - Argentina tractor soya banner

In Argentina Greenpeace is providing indiginous people with mobile phones so that they can text for help when their lands are under attack from developers. As well as sending help, Greenpeace also used SMS to call up protesters for an instant demonstration in Buenos Aires to urge the president to spare forests.

Greenpeace - Argentina tractor soya banner

In Argentina Greenpeace is providing indiginous people with mobile phones so that they can text for help when their lands are under attack from developers. As well as sending help, Greenpeace also used SMS to call up protesters for an instant demonstration in Buenos Aires to urge the president to spare forests.

Greenpeace - Argentina forest burning

The rugged northern Pizarro reserve is home to an indigenous group called the Wichi who have also protested recently that the encroachment on native forests would drive them from their habitats. Large tracts of lands have reportedly been sold for lumbering, ranching and soybean farming.


The reserve is also home to rare native trees including the quebrachal, but demonstrators claimed those areas were being subjected to some of the fastest deforestation campaigns in the world.


Alerted by SMS to “imminent destruction” from loggers that would also imperil rare jaguars and other forest animals, activists travelled to the area by motorbike dressed as jaguars, where they locked on to the bulldozers in an attempt to halt the destruction.

Greenpeace - Argentina tractor soya banner

Indiginous Community Communications

“We use SMS with grassroots and indigenous communities soldiers and landowners are tying to evict people or use bulldozers to destroy the forest” said Oscar Soria, Communications Director, Greenpeace Argentina, (pictured center jaguar kneeling). “SMS is the most accessible method for indigenous people as they don’t have landlines or access to electricity”. “In some cases Greenpeace supplies the phones and car battery to charge the phones when there is no electricity in the village.”

Greenpeace - Argentina blest by shaman

While the bulldozer drivers called the land owners who alerted the police, the indigenous people sent SMS to warn the Greenpeace activists when the police was coming so they had enough time to decide what to do – who will stay and be arrested and who will escape with the pictures and video footage.

As well as sending the message to Greenpeace HQ, the text message is sent out by the local activist to other nearby groups to help. Using mobile is helping improve communications between Christian and traditional groups and helping them rebuild ancient traditions in their communities.


Greenpeace penguins

Mobile Demonstrations

Greenpeace activists used SMS to call a demonstration outside Government House on 22nd September that saw nearly 300 turn up the next day wearing penguin masks and black tie outfits. Argentina’s president, Nestor Kirchner, who comes from the southern Patagonia region (where the penguins is the national bird) and has at times jokingly referred to himself by the “penguin” nickname many have given him.


Greenpeace claim that only 14 per cent of native forests remain intact today on Argentine territory compared with 39 per cent in 1914.


“Using sms for both people on the ground in the forest and city people to respond to a situation is very powerful combination” said Soria.

Greenpeace TV Recruitment Campaign

“We use sms a great deal in our campaigns and activities both to receive information from local activists on the ground and also to mobilise our supporters in the cities” said Soria.


Greenpeace in Argentina are launching a campaign in January 2006 to recruit 5,000 mobile activists that can be called upon to respond to situations publicity material and their own weekly cable TV show. The campaign hopes to recruit a further 100,000 cyber activists to the 300,000 already registered with Greenpeace.


The weekly 30 minute show will use local celebrities such as intellectuals, pop stars, actresses, journalists and actors to present the programme who have been involved as witness to actions.


The show will include a feedback section with questions sent out by SMS and the answers are given out on the TV programme. Messages from viewers will also be displayed as an onscreen ticker during the TV programme.


www.greenpeace.org.ar