Greenpeace campaigner Paulo Adario contemplating destruction in the Brazilian Amazon.
Activists unfurled a banner with their message to Lula in front
of the building where delegates are meeting for the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Decisions made
at the meeting will play a major role in the future of mahogany, an
extremely valuable rainforest wood known as "green gold."
Unfortunately, Brazil is sending mixed signals about its
commitment to stop the illegal trade in mahogany. Perhaps they
should be reminded that this tree species could become commercially
extinct in the wild within two years.
While Brazil's president and the minister of environment speak
in favour mahogany protection, the country's foreign ministry is
against protection under CITES (Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species).
Yet support for the CITES proposal on big leaf mahogany, put
forward by Central America and intended to regulate trade in
Central America, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and other nations, is
urgently needed. It would help stem the rampant plunder of mahogany
by tightening controls and eliminating illegal logging and trade.
This could be accomplished by listing mahogany on Appendix II of
Status quo of corruption, destruction
Instead of tighter controls under CITES, Brazil's foreign
ministry supports a continuation of the status quo. Unfortunately,
that is simply not good enough.
It's true that Brazil has already had a moratorium on the
exploitation, transport and commercialisation of mahogany for more
than a year, and that this moratorium will remain in place until
But this ban has utterly failed to protect mahogany against
Illegal logging, corruption, lax controls and international buyers
who are willing to look the other way. Once the mahogany loggers
bulldoze illegal access roads through pristine rainforest, it
leaves the forest open to broader destruction. Unknown numbers of
Indians have been murdered, a result of often-violent conflicts
that flare up as they try to protect their land from loggers.
The plunder continues: in the last two weeks, Brazilian
authorities seized four trucks transporting mahogany in Belem, Para
State, and three containers at the port ready for export. The
mahogany they seized was actually registered as a different
Mahogany vigil gets visitor
Yesterday, Greenpeace activists staging a two-week mahogany
vigil in Brasilia, Brazil received a visit from Senator Marina
Silva, who agreed that "despite the moratorium, there is still an
expressive exploitation of Mahogany."
Silva, who is from the Amazon forest state of Acre, has a long
track record of defending forests. "I'm in favour of the listing on
Appendix II because the measures that we have on Appendix III are
not enough to protect this species," Silva told the activists, who
are gathered around a mahogany tree growing between the ministry of
environment and ministry agriculture buildings in Brasilia.
A crucial test for Lula
Speaking about the divisions within the Brazilian government,
Greenpeace campaigner Paulo Adario said, "This has brought Brazil
and CITES into disrepute internationally. It will be very
embarrassing if Lula's government starts off on such a weak footing
on environmental issues.
Send a fax to the President of Brazil to stop
the illegal mahogany trade and protect the Amazon.
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