Timber stained by blood of orang-utans

Feature story - 18 March, 2004
We are demanding that the UK Government seize a huge cargo of illegal timber that arrived at London's Tilbury docks on 18th March. The timber is from Indonesia's rainforests, where illegal logging is threatening orang-utans and tigers.

The habitat of Indonesian orang-utans is threatened by illegal logging.

Ironically, the ship carrying the illegal cargo arrived in the Thames under police protection - while our activists were arrested for trying to prevent it from being unloaded.

Volunteers from Greenpeace UK (Greenpeace Ltd) occupied the gates at Tilbury and formed a boat blockade as workers tried to dock the ship (the MV Greveno), which is carrying tens of thousands of cubic metres of rainforest timber.

Police removed our activists and the ship was allowed to dock. We immediately sent an urgent fax to Environment Minister Elliot Morley, urging the Government to seize the timber and return it to Indonesia. The ship's next destination is Antwerp, where some of the timber will be unloaded and transported to The Netherlands.

We have been tracking the Greveno since it loaded up with rainforest timber in Indonesia in early February. Volunteers tried to board the ship in the English Channel, but were pummelled by high-powered deck hoses.

An Indonesian Government investigation has found that Korindo, the company producing and selling this shipment of wood, buys from notorious timber barons known to obtain timber from Tanjung Puting national park - an orang-utan refuge. To date nearly half the national park has been damaged.

As much as 90 percent of all logging in Indonesia is illegal and the industry is further linked to corruption, violence and human rights abuses.

'The logging, export and sale of this timber is nothing short of organised crime,' said forest campaigner Andy Tait. 'Behind each sheet of plywood that originates in Indonesia's rainforests there is a web of criminal activity, corruption and bloodshed.'

Governments worldwide must act before the Indonesian rainforest is gone and orang-utans are only found in zoos. Despite the evidence against Korindo and the cargo aboard the MV Greveno there is currently no law to stop the import of timber like this into the EU.

The UK timber industry has admitted that not one of Indonesia's sawmills can provide sufficient evidence of legality or sustainability for the UK market. Three UK high-street builder's merchants, including Jewson and Travis Perkins, have stopped selling Indonesian plywood because of concerns about illegal trade.

Tony Blair has promised to fight against the illegal timber industry and save the world's ancient forests. Now is his chance.

Find out more about illegal timber at www.saveordelete.com

Take action

Please write to Poul Nielson, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, asking him to stop this illegal timber trade immediately.