Greenpeace activists block timber shipment from Amazonian illegal loggers

New report reveals EU fuelling trade in illegal logging and deforestation; laws needed to eradicate the trade in illegal timber

Press release - 17 March, 2008
A cargo ship loaded with timber sourced from companies with links to illegal logging operations in the Amazon was blocked in France today by Greenpeace activists.

Greenpeace activists board a cargo ship entering the port of Caen, France. The ship is loaded with timber sourced from companies with links to illegal logging operations in the Amazon. The action exposes Europe’s role in fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by buying timber illegally logged in the region. Greenpeace is urging the owner of the shipment to reject timber from illegal loggers until they can prove that the timber comes from legal sources.

France, 17th March 2008 - A cargo ship loaded with timber sourced from companies with links to illegal logging operations in the Amazon was blocked in France today by Greenpeace activists.

As the 16,000 tonne cargo ship, the Galina III, entered the port of Caen, five activists from the UK, Germany, Italy and Chile boarded the vessel and attempted to stop the unloading of its cargo. Greenpeace is urging the owner of the shipment to reject timber from illegal loggers until they can prove that the timber comes from legal sources.

The action exposes Europe's role in fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by buying timber illegally logged in the region.

Greenpeace Amazon campaigner, Marcelo Marquesini said: "Illegal logging is fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and this in turn is driving global climate change, harming biodiversity and communities.

"What is worse is that the EU is complicit in this destruction being the world's leading importer of Brazilian Amazonian timber. Because the EU doesn't verify that timber comes from legal sources, the door is left wide open for rogue companies to flood the EU market with illegal timber."

The action came on the back of a new Greenpeace report, 'A Future for Forests', uncovering the illegal timber trade from the Amazon into Europe. It is estimated that between 63% and 80% of timber from the Amazon is illegally logged. As well as destroying large areas of tropical forest, illegal logging encourages land grabbing by farmers and speculators, and fuels corruption and violence.

Speaking onboard the Artic Sunrise, Greenpeace International's Amazon campaigner, Daniela Montalto said: "If the EU is really serious about halting deforestation and preventing the worst effects of climate change, it needs to use its economic clout and introduce tough new laws so that all timber products placed on its market are from legal sources and well managed forests."  

Tropical deforestation is responsible for about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the emissions of the world's entire transport sector. Last month, the Brazilian government admitted that the rate of deforestation is speeding up rather than slowing down. Deforestation is the main source of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, making it the most important contributing factor to the country's position as the world's fourth-largest climate polluter.

Other contacts: Greenpeace campaigners: Marcelo Marquesini, Greenpeace Amazon Campaigner in France on +00 55 92 81 37 91 82Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International Amazon Campaigner onboard the Artic Sunrise on +00 31 646 1620 33Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace International Forest Campaigner in Amsterdam on +00 31 6 4616 6299Greenpeace International press office: +00 31 (0) 20 718 2470 or Vicky Wyatt on +00 44 20 7865 8281Greenpeace International Photodesk: Franca Michienzi: +00 31 (0) 6 290 01162Greenpeace International Videodesk: +00 31 (0) 6 461 62015

Notes: 1.)The report can be found at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/future-for-forests 2.) Part of the Amazon timber cargo from the Galina III was first offloaded in Portugal and Spain, and is now due to head to the Netherlands. Madesa – Madeireira Santarém Ltda, Estância Alecrim, Pena Agro-Florestal Madeireira Ltda, Madeireira Rancho da Cabocla Ltda, Industrial Madeireira Curuatinga and Tradelink Madeiras Ltda are six rogue logging companies operating in the Amazon. The companies have been fined a number of times (with the biggest offender receiving two fines worth over one million US$ in 2007), had forest management plans cancelled and are facing prosecution for a range of illegal activities from illegal logging (breeching laws, processing fraudulent documents and laundering timber), land-grabbing and logging forest areas on public land and/or processing illegal timber from deforestation. Some of these companies have even been accused of engaging in violence and intimidation (including death threats), corruption and evading penalties. 2.)Amazonia is home to the world’s largest tropical forest. In Brazil alone, the ‘Legal Amazon’ has lost some 700,000 square kilometres of its original forest cover in the last four decades, an area bigger than France. 3.) The EU accounts for 49% of timber exports from the Brazilian Amazon by value and 47% by weight - Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade (2007) Timber exports from the Brazilian Amazon, by weight. Available at http://aliceweb.desenvolvimento.gov.br/ Accessed February 2008.4.) Estimates of how much timber comes from illegal logging are sourced from Veloso, J. (2006) – ‘Estimating legality in timber production in the Amazon’. Presentation given at seminar ‘Aplicação da legislação florestal no manejo de florestas naturais.’ Belém, Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, National Forest Plan (37% being the maximum estimated level of legality in timber production in the Amazon). 5.) Deforestation in the Amazon rose from 1997 until 2004, when it reached a peak of 27,400 square kilometres, with only 30% of this total being authorised. For the next three years, however, annual deforestation rates fell, reaching a mere 11,200 square kilometres in the year to July 2007. Fears of a renewed rise in overall deforestation levels received confirmation early this year, when preliminary data from INPE (Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research) was released. The data revealed an increase in deforestation between August and December 2007 compared to the same period in the previous year. These preliminary figures (7,000km2) suggest that total annual deforestation may be about to start increasing again. Source: INPE (2008) ‘INPE estima que Amazônia perdeu cerca de 7 mil km2 de floresta entre agosto e dezembro de 2007’. Press release, 24 January.

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