Brazilian government gives in to loggers and leaves Greenpeace activists trapped in Amazon

Press release - 17 October, 2007
A mob of 300 loggers trapped eight Greenpeace activists in an office of the Brazilian environmental protection agency (Ibama) in the Amazon. The loggers demanded Greenpeace hand over a dead Brazil nut tree, collected yesterday with government permission, from illegally cleared and burnt public land. The tree was to be part of an exhibition exposing the destruction of the Amazon and its contribution to climate change. Today, the Brazilian government gave in to the loggers, and revoked Greenpeace's licence to remove, transport and exhibit the Brazil nut. The tree has now been taken, in custody of the loggers, to the local town square. Yet, the activists are still not safe.

Many loggers remain outside the offices where the Greenpeace expedition team escaped to yesterday afternoon.

 "This is absolutely outrageous" said Marcelo Maquesini, Greenpeace Amazon coordinator, and part of the team trapped at the Ibama offices. "The Brazilian state cannot even manage to ensure basic constitutional rights such as security and freedom of movement. Rather than standing up to the loggers, the government has given in to the law of the mob."

The exhibition has wide support across Brazil, and the Governors of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, had already confirmed their attendance. Deforestation is responsible for three quarters of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, and makes the country the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.

The Greenpeace team was blocked by loggers after collecting the tree. The activists managed to escape to the Ibama offices, where 300 loggers, with eight trucks, ten vans and 15 motorbikes surrounded the building.

"It is disgraceful that loggers, many involved in illegal forest destruction, were allowed to stop eight people legally taking one dead tree" continued Maquesini.  "The Brazilian government has still a long way to go until proper governance is brought to the Amazon. If Brazil is to be taken seriously by the international community in negotiations on climate, biodiversity or human rights, then they need to be able to enforce basic law and order in the areas where forests are being destroyed."

Greenpeace demands the expedition team is immediately provided with local, state and federal security, in order to be able to return home safely. Greenpeace also urge the Brazilian government to allow them to take the Brazil nut tree as agreed, so that they can continue with their expedition and highlight the urgent need to stop deforestation, and combat climate change.  


Other contacts: Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace International forests campaigner +31 6 46 16 20 33 Jo Kuper, Greenpeace International communications +31 6 46 16 20 39 Tica Minami, Amazon campaign communications in Manaus, to arrange interviews with team on the ground, +55 92 8114-4517For images: John Novis, Greenpeace International photo manager +31 6 53 81 91 21

Notes: (1) The activists are in the town of Castelo dos Sonhos, a municipality in the west of Pará, in the Amazon. (2) By 2006, over one sixth of the Amazon rainforest had been destroyed, equivalent to an area larger than France. Deforestation accounts for one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil’s rates of deforestation, mainly from the Amazon, account for three quarters of its greenhouse gas emissions, and make it the fourth largest climate polluter in the world.(3) Eight weeks ago, Greenpeace activists, representative of the NGO Amazon Native Operation (Opan, in portuguese) and two French journalists documented forest fires in lands of the Enawene Nawe people, in Mato Grosso state. The group were forced out by the authorities and farmers in the region. See footage at Two weeks ago, nine non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace, launched a proposal for a national agreement to end Amazon deforestation at an event attended by the Brazilian Minister of Environment and State Governors. The proposal aims to achieve a broad commitment from sectors of the Brazilian government and civil society for measures to ensure urgent protection for the Amazon rainforest. For more info see

Exp. contact date: 2007-11-17 00:00:00