Activists paint Liberian logs with 'Logs of War' and 'Forest Crime' in the Italian port of Ravenna.
Logging is a lucrative business in poverty-stricken Liberia and
has long been one of the prime sources of government revenue.
Following a United Nations ban on all diamond exports from Liberia
in 2001, logging has become the single largest source of export
earnings for the Liberian government. But at what cost?
After years of excessive exploitation throughout western Africa,
Liberia's forest now represents almost half of what remains of a
rainforest belt that once covered the whole of Liberia, plus parts
of Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo.
This forest is home to some 9,000 species of plants and more
than 1,300 species of animals. It supports the only viable
populations of the pygmy hippopotamus and represents the last
stronghold of the forest elephant in West Africa.
Liberia's forest is also the lifeline of the country's
indigenous communities. The forest provides shelter for their
physical, cultural and religious life, including hosting shrines,
traditional bush schools and cover for streams. It is also a vital
source of foods, medicinal herbs and other materials.
Industrial logging has already destroyed much of the accessible
lowland and coastal regions of West Africa's tropical forests. It
is estimated that almost 90 percent of these forests have already
been destroyed and what remains is heavily fragmented.
Recent reports by a Panel of Experts to the UN Security Council
reveal that the Liberian timber industry is involved in both
environmental destruction and human rights abuses. This includes
driving the destruction of the Liberia's remaining forests and
illegal arms trafficking.
At least 70 percent of the wood produced in Liberia is destined
for the export market. The key actors driving this destructive,
corrupt and destabilizing industry are the countries and companies
importing the timber.
Liberia's main log exports have traditionally been to Europe
with 12 percent destined for Italy.
Last year we confronted the Italian Timber Importer Federation
about the presence of Liberian timber on the Italian market. After
several meetings, the federation members agreed to stop the import
of timber from companies linked with the illicit arms trade and
illegal logging operations. Despite this promise a number of
Italian importers continue to import Liberia logs.
Greenpeace activists uncovered such a shipment in the Italian
port of Ravenna coming from a company heavily linked with the
illicit arms trade to Liberia. The timber comes from the Liberia
company Maryland Wood Processing Industries (MWPI) whose president
has been linked to the illegal trade of weapons in the expert panel
report of the UN Security Council
The Italian timber industry has failed to take into account the
UN Security Council's evidence showing of the role of the Liberian
logging industry in fuelling regional conflict in West Africa. It's
time for Italian importers to live up to their words and
immediately stop buying conflict timber from countries like
The Italian government said it would be in the front line
against terrorism and international insecurity, but at the same
time Italy is still importing timber which is fuelling the civil
war in West Africa and the illegal arms trade. Companies like MWPI
illustrate the link between war, conflicts on natural resources and
We are calling on the Italian government to ban all import of
timber coming from Liberia until it can be shown that the timber
industry no longer fuels regional conflict.
You can help by not buying timber from Liberia and helping to
support our ancient forest campaign to protect the world's
remaining ancient forests.