Greenpeace activists dump over a tonne of plywood in front of the entrance to DEFRA, the UK Government's department responsible for the environment. The action follows a major Greenpeace investigation which has uncovered a criminal trail of illegally logged timber from the world's remaining rainforestswhich is laundered through China before arriving on shop shelves in the UK.
Shortly after 7.30am this morning, Greenpeace activists
blockaded government offices in London in protest. The activists
dumped over a tonne of plywood secured with large chains over the
entrance to DEFRA, the UK Government's department responsible for
the environment. Two activists chained themselves to the plywood to
prevent it being removed, and climbers scaled the outside of the
building and secured a banner reading 'Ban Illegal Timber'.
"Governments around the world have known about this problem for
years and they've done absolutely nothing about it. Illegally
logged timber products from the world's last rainforests are sold
openly around the world. This criminal trade must be prohibited
immediately," said Phil Aikman, Greenpeace International forests
Greenpeace has found that timber from the rainforests of Papua
New Guinea, Indonesia and Gabon is routinely logged illegally,
shipped to China and transformed into plywood before being exported
around the world. Many of the companies that log the tropical
timber are known to be involved in criminal activities. In Papua
New Guinea, for example, the logging industry is dominated by
Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, a company that has been
directly linked not only to environmental destruction, but also to
human rights abuses including torture and rape. (2)
"China is by far the largest importer of rainforest destruction
in the world," said Aikman. "For every ten tropical logs shipped
from the world's threatened rainforests, five are destined for
A new report, Partners in Crime, published by Greenpeace UK,
explains the 14,000 mile journey taken by illegally logged timber
from Papua New Guinea, home to animals and plants found nowhere
else on the planet. This timber was traced back to UK ports,
building sites and builders' merchants via the processing mills of
China, where it is transformed into plywood and then exported to
markets around the world. US owned 'Wolseley', the world's largest
heating and plumbing company, is one of those identified selling
such products in the UK.
Illegally logged rainforest timber was found at Chinese plywood
mills destined for several other European destinations. Rainforest
timber from Gabon, home to some of Africa's last great apes, was
found marked for export to the USA.
Greenpeace is calling on governments to introduce legislation to
ban the import of illegal timber and to support sustainable forest
management globally. (3)
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization, which
uses non-violent, creative communication tools to put the spotlight
on global environmental problems, and to drive towards solutions
essential for a green and peaceful future.
Other contacts: Phil Aikman, Greenpeace International forests campaigner on +44 7801212995
Notes: (1) To see the Greenpeace UK report, Partners in Crime: The UK timber trade, Chinese sweatshops and Malaysian robber barons in Papua New Guinea's rainforests go to http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/PNGForestCrimeFile. For further details linking trade in Chinese plywood to the USA and several other European contact Phil Aikman.(2) See: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/the-untouchables-rimbunan-hi(3) European Agriculture Ministers will meet in Luxembourg to discuss voluntary measures related to illegal logging on 24-25 October.