Greenpeace blocks shipment linked to Mahogany Mafia

Feature story - 17 April, 2002
Greenpeace activists today temporarily blockaded and closed the warehouses of Red Madeiras Tropicais (Red Rainforest Timber) in the Paraná state of Brazil.

Timber logged in Itaquatiara. Amazon, Brazil.

Eleven Greenpeace activists blocked the gate of one of Red´s depots with an inflatable 6-meter chainsaw. On the wall they painted the message: "Red: buying from the Mahogany Mafia". They also unfurled 6x12 meter banner, which read "Illegal mahogany, never again!"

More than 14,000 cubic metres was being stored at the warehouse, with a market value of at least US$20 billion.

During the protest, Greepeace revealed that in the year 2001, 82 percent of the timber purchased by Red Madieras Tropacais was bought from companies linked to the "Mahogany Mafia" ("Mafia do Mogno" in Spanish). The company was the biggest exporter of mahogany in 2001, with most of its customers in the US and England.

Nilo d´Ávila of Greenpeace said, "We are here to make Red listen to the words of President Fernando Henrique, in defense of the protection of mahogany, a noble wood that is threatened with extinction."

The Mahogany Mafia operates in the Brazilian state of Para, where its activities include illegal logging of mahogany on Indian and state-owned lands. Logging, transport and trade in mahogany have been forbidden by Ibama, the Brazilian government's environment agency, since October 2001. Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso reaffirmed the ban last week.

Last year Red bought mahogany from ten logging companies, four of which are connected to the Mahogany Mafia: Pau Brasil, Madeireira Castelo, Jatobá, Madeireira Serra Dourada e Milenium. These companies were fined a total of 15 times by Ibama in 2001 for illegal exploitation and illegal transportation of mahogany. In 2001, Red was apprehended trying to export illegal mahogany by misusing Ibama authorization documents.

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More information:

Partners in Mahogany Crime (Greenpeace report)