On Monday Eoin and I took part in Greenpeace actions in the Netherlands for our Forest campaign and we've taken a little time out of our busy week to write about it especially for you!
Logging in parts of Asia is now entirely out of control, due to the insatiable appetite of timber industries, a lack of governance, and corruption at all levels of administration. A staggering 80% of the world’s ancient forests have already been destroyed or degraded and what remains is mostly under threat from illegal and destructive logging.
EU member states play a key role in fuelling the international demand for illegal and destructive timber and they must legislate to ensure that it is not sold in Europe's DIY stores, furniture shops and wood yards.
lllegal plywood from forests in Papua New Guinea is being imported for three companies in the Netherlands through Belgian trader Altripan. Two of the companies had promised last year to stop trading in the illegal plywood, but recent Greenpeace investigations found that they were still stocking the stuff! Read the Crime File to find out more.
This week in the Netherlands, Greenpeace felt that enough was enough and decided to take a stand against the sale of wood made from 100% crime.
A Dutch timber trader Emmerik, was found to be in possession of a large stockpile of Red Canarium and Bintangor plywood that was made in China, supplied by companies trading in illegally logged timber from Papua New Guinea.
At 9am on Monday morning I arrived in Nijmegen at Emmerik's offices and wood storage yard along with several other activists. Firstly we asked Emmerik to hand over its stockpile of illegal timber to us and replace it with FSC plywood that we offered to them. We brought this wood with us on a truck and parked it outside their office while we stood by their wharehouse waiting for them to make a decision.
In the end they refused to take our wood but they said they would send their illegally logged wood back to the trader in Belgium. We went ahead and spray painted it with "100% crime" to make sure they would not be able to sell it.
I expected the police to arrive while we were doing this but we walked out of there, after we had covered the wharehouse floor with the painted wood, without being arrested. We drove to Leiden then and met some other activists including Eoin. I'll let him tell you about the rest of the day... [The following is written by Eoin]
At around noon we headed for the Hague with a red 40 ft truck, a yellow hydraulic lift, a ladder and 15 or so sheets of wood logged illegally in Papua New Guinea. We pulled up at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), tore back the roof of the truck, hoisted up the ladder, and made our way up onto the balcony of the building with a banner saying "LNV, Make it happen: Ban illegal wood".
The plywood sheets were lifted to the balcony and attached in record-time with clamps to cover the five giant windows on the front of the government building. We left the banner and illegal-wood-window-shutters behind when we got down, and it looked really impressive!
There was illegal wood, there was media, there were passers-by, there were even police (though nobody was arrested), only the Minister was conspicuously absent.