Greenpeace Intercepts A Shipment Of Conflict Timber In Italy

Press release - 3 June, 2003
Greenpeace activists today uncovered a shipment of conflict timber on the MV Mentor in the Italian port of Salerno. The area around the shipment of conflict wood was cordoned off by the activists and marked as a Forest Crime Scene. The logs were identified with the slogans ‘Africa Crime’ and ‘Logs of War’. Large ‘postage stamps’ were then stuck onto the logs and stamped with ‘Return to Sender’.

"Greenpeace informed the custom authority asking them to carefully investigate, and urged the government to implement the UN sanctions immediately. Liberian logs should to be sent back to the sender. Italy cannot lead the European political process to control illegal logging and trade, through the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance & Trade (FLEGT) agreement while importing logs linked to armed conflicts," said Sergio Baffoni speaking from Salerno.

Greenpeace investigations exposed the link between the Italian import of logs, civil war and forest destruction. On May 6 2003 the Security Council of the United Nations established a ban on imports of Liberian timber, due to the involvement of the Liberian forest sector in illicit arms' trade, which is fuelling regional conflicts in West Africa. The import ban will enter into force July 7 2003.

The contentious cargo comes from Maryland Wood Processing Industries (MWPI), a Liberian timber company involved in arms' trade, according to the UK-based non-governmental organisation Global Witness. MWPI, which manages Port Harper in Liberia, plays a key role in the importation of arms into the country through the port. In 2002, it was involved in arms' shipments destined for Liberian-backed rebels in Cote d'Ivoire (1).

In addition, the ship left Port Harper after the official notice of the United Nations' sanctions on Liberian timber. It was clearly an attempt to export as much Liberian timber as possible before the sanctions enter into force. Companies buying these logs are clearly aware that they are a partner in crime to a traffic fueling the civil war.

Greenpeace is calling on the Italian Timber Federation to locate and expel any eventual customers of the logs coming from this shipment. In April 2002 Greenpeace and the Timber Federation signed a common engagement to stop illegal logging, where the Federation was committed in contrasting the import in Italy of timber linked to armed conflicts. But this wood never stopped coming to Italy.



Italian harbour authorities have just agreed to sit down and discuss the issue with Greenpeace and carry out an in depth investigation.

Notes: 1. The Usual Suspects: Liberia’s Weapons and Mercenaries in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone - Why it’s Still Possible, How it Works, and How to Break the Trend. (See: