Two years ago, we kicked off an investigation into what was happening in the Brazilian Amazon timber industry and today we released our findings: the timber market is fraught with illegality, and predatory logging is destroying the Amazon bit by bit. Instead of protecting the forest, official checks and balances are being used to 'launder' timber from illegal and predatory logging practices in order to sell it in Brazil and globally as if it was legal.
Two thirds of Brazilian Amazon timber goes to the USA and Europe, and is found in shops like Lumber Liquidators in the USA and J. Pinto Leitão and Tradelink in Europe amongst many others. It also appears in such diverse projects as the Brooklyn Bridge in the USA, the World Trade Centre in Geneva, and the National Library in Paris. Yet under USA and EU legislation, it is prohibited to import illegal timber.
Going into the field in the Brazilian state of Pará clearly showed us that the current timber control system is flawed and easily manipulated. Boasting the greatest volume of timber exports in the Brazilian Amazon, 78% of the area logged in Pará is estimated to be illegal, so that's where we focussed our attention. We tracked the process from tree to tabletop, and the official documents required at each step. We found that companies are acting illegally in a number of ways including overestimating the number of valuable species in forests, falsifying information for chain of custody documents and applying for logging permits in areas already deforested, all in order to sell timber of unknown origin with official documents.
Greenpeace is calling for action. Companies must immediately classify Brazilian Amazon timber as high-risk and not purchase this timber unless additional, credible steps are taken to ensure legal origin. Furthermore, the Brazilian Government must take urgent steps to reform the Brazilian timber management and control system and review all approvals granted since 2006.
You can help. Please send your message so that collectively we can protect the Amazon and its forest dependent peoples.
Tica Minami is an Amazon Communications Coordinator at Greenpeace Brazil.