Greenpeace seizes stolen PNG logs

Press release - 12 May, 2002

Man standing on logs, Papua New Guinea

Greenpeace today stopped the export of illegally and destructively logged timber from Papua New Guinea to China by preventing the loading of logs at Umuda Island in the country´s west.

Climbers from the Greenpeace vessel, the MV Arctic Sunrise, are blocking the crane of the log ship. Volunteers are also occupying the log barge and have hung a banner reading "Ancient Forest Crime".

Malaysian logging company Concord Pacific has taken these logs from the local landowner communities in Papua New Guinea with complete disregard for the environment and the well being of citizens. The logs are then exported mostly to China where they are processed into furniture and plywood for American and European markets.

The logging by Concord Pacific project is clearly illegal and is destroying the world´s third largest tropical ancient forest. Most of the logs are exported to China, Japan and Korea, where they are used to make furniture, flooring and cheap plywood.

"This is modern daylight robbery disguised as a development project," said Bianca Havas, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner. "It is a flagrant example of the ongoing destruction of ancient forests worldwide and the communities who depend on them for their livelihoods."

Landowner communities frustrated by the inaction of Papua New Guinea and international governments over the logging of their forests have asked Greenpeace to help save their forest home.

"The Papua New Guinea Government must shut down Concord Pacific´s scandalous logging operation," Havas said.

"Concord Pacific customers like Lei Sing Hong and Kam Hing in China and Nissho Iwai from Japan must stop buying ancient forest destruction before more communities lose their livelihoods and one of the last ancient forests is destroyed forever."

Today´s action follows anti-logging activity in Hong Kong last week. Greenpeace China volunteers served a symbolic "injunction" on Lei Sing Hong, asking it to stop importing logs from Concord Pacific.

"Destruction such as that we are seeing in Papua New Guinea shows how vital it is for international governments to reverse forest loss and tackle illegal logging," Havas said.

Governments meeting in the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity meeting last month failed to take any concrete measures to end ancient forest destruction. In the lead-up to the Johannesburg Earth Summit they must:

- Stop further industrial activities in intact ancient forests until responsible plans for forest conservation and sustainable use are agreed;

- Ensure that timber and other forest products are produced and traded in a legal and ecologically responsible way (1) and;

- Commit to providing funds to pay for forest conservation and sustainable use.

Globally eighty percent of the original forest cover on earth has been logged, burnt, cleared, flooded with the area of a football field being destroyed every two seconds.

Notes: The Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) is the only independent certification system that meets international ecological standards, incorporates the interests of social, economic and environmental groups, and has a widely recognised label. This system assures the chain of custody from the extraction of wood, through processing to the final consumer. Unless independently certified at least according to ecological standards of the FSC®, it is not possible to guarantee that logging practices are legal and do not lead to ancient forest destruction.