Greenpeace activists dump over a tonne of plywood secured with large chains blocking the entrance to DEFRA, the UK Government's department responsible for the environment.
The Amazon lost an area roughly the size of Belgium last year,
and theParadise Forests of South East Asia are disappearing so
rapidly, thattheir most famous residents, orang-utans, are facing
extinction in thewild within the next decade. The African Forests
of the Great Apes issimilarly facing a huge assault. Why? Illegal
and destructive logging,driven by demand for cheap wood from
Last week, in the port city of Livorno, Italy, we
blocked the unloadingof the freighter '
Guan He Kou' which was carrying timber from a companyinvolved
in illegal logging in the Congo Basin. The presence of the'Guan He
Kou' and its rainforest cargo in Europe shows just how easy itis to
steal from some of the most biologically rich areas in the
After the activists were arrested, the ship continued to deliver
thetimber before sailing to Spain, where we greeted it again in the
portof Valencia on Monday. No inspections, no seizure of the stolen
Many of the companies that log the tropical timber are known to
beinvolved in criminal activities. In Papua New Guinea, for
example, thelogging industry is dominated by Malaysian logging
RimbunanHijau, a company that has been directly linked not only
toenvironmental destruction, but also to human rights abuses
includingtorture and rape.
Today in the UK, activists
blockaded the offices of the environmentdepartment in protest
at the lack of action to prohibit the importationof illegal
"Governments around the world have known about thisproblem for
years and they've done absolutely nothing about it.Illegally logged
timber products from the world's last rainforests aresold openly
around the world. This criminal trade must be
prohibitedimmediately," said Phil Aikman, Greenpeace International
The European Commission's (EC) response to the issue of illegal
logginghas so far been weak. It is promoting voluntary measures,
despite callsfrom 180 NGOs, the European Parliament and 70
companies (including Ikeaand B&Q), who have all called for
legislation which stops theimport of illegally sourced timber
products into Europe.
This voluntary approach is an inadequate and untenable position,
notjust for consumers in Europe who are unknowingly complicit in
forestcrimes, but also for the people of timber-producing
countries. TheWorld Bank estimates that illegal logging costs
timber-producingcountries between US$10 and15 billion a year in
lost revenue. Forestdwelling people in countries like Cameroon,
Papua New Guinea and Brazilcannot afford to have their livelihoods
stolen from them.
One of the first steps in protecting the ancient forest is the
introduction of laws prohibiting the import of illegal timber.While
the European Commission drags its feet, the forests continue tobe
destroyed and the people that depend on them for their way of
lifecontinue to be ignored.
Read the full report:
PARTNERS IN CRIME: The UK timber trade, Chinese sweatshops and
Malaysian robber barons in Papua New Guinea's rainforests.
more about the problems and solutions of illegal and
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