Jan 9, 2024 - World

Company to stop supplying automakers with leather linked to deforestation

Jose Iquebi, a native of the Ayoreo ethnic group, speaks in a village northeast of Asunción, Paraguay in December 2011.

Jose Iquebi, a native of the Ayoreo ethnic group, speaks in a village northeast of Asunción, Paraguay in December 2011. Photo: Noberto Duarte/AFP via Getty Images

An Italian company that provides upholstery to automakers BMW, Jaguar, and Porsche says it will no longer buy leather from suppliers that invade forests in an Indigenous region of Paraguay.

The big picture: The Pasubio Group announced the decision late last month after years of the Ayoreo people's lobbying, saying it will do its part to help stop the deforestation of the Paraguayan Chaco, also known as the Patrimonio Natural y Cultural Ayoreo Totobiegosode (PNCAT).

Details: The company says it will halt all commercial relationships with Paraguayan suppliers unable to guarantee they aren't connected to cattle ranches located within the Paraguayan Chaco.

  • Indigenous activists in the region say the growing number of cattle ranches have threatened the forests for decades.
  • "The Pasubio Group seeks to ensure that it does not in any way contribute to the illegal deforestation in the Ayoreo Totobiegosode territory, and expresses its support for the Ayoreo Totobiegosode in their fight for their human and territorial rights," the company said in a statement.

Zoom out: The Paraguayan Chaco is part of the Gran Chaco, South America's second-largest continuous forest that spans Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil.

  • It has one of the highest deforestation rates on the planet.
  • The Paraguayan Chaco covers around 60% of the country, but only 3% of the country's population lives in it.
  • It is home to some of the world's most isolated Indigenous people.

What they're saying: "We now hope that all the other companies in this sector will follow Pasubio's example, taking full responsibility for the impact of their supply chain on the rights of Indigenous peoples," Survival International said in a statement.

  • Survival International said deforestation puts "the lives and lands of uncontacted tribes, and Indigenous peoples around the world."
  • "It seems to me an opportune decision that could have an impact at the local level," Tagüide Picanerai, an Ayoreo leader, told the Spanish-language daily newspaper El País.

What's next: Survival International director Caroline Pearce says activists will keep a close eye on Pasubio to ensure it fulfills its promises and will pressure other companies to do the same.

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