Illegal shipment of Amazonian timber seized in Brazil

Inspection follows Greenpeace blockade of timber ship in France

Press release - 11 April, 2008
Amsterdam, 11th April 2008 - A shipment of Amazonian timber bound for Europe has been seized, the Brazilian Environmental Authority (IBAMA) announced today. The confiscation comes just weeks after Greenpeace exposed the trade in illegal timber between Brazil and Europe.

Amsterdam, 11th April 2008 - A shipment of Amazonian timber bound for Europe has been seized, the Brazilian Environmental Authority (IBAMA) announced today. The confiscation comes just weeks after Greenpeace exposed the trade in illegal timber between Brazil and Europe.

Officials have detained the vessel, the BSLE Express, at the Brazilian Port of Santarem, in Pará, in the heart of the Amazon since 27th March. So far they have confiscated 732 cubic meters of sawn timber. The documentation for the shipment contained false information about the species of timber onboard. 

Greenpeace Amazon campaigner, Marcelo Marquesini said: "The illegal timber trade is rife and so it is great news that, for the first time in two years, the Brazilian authorities are checking timber exports at Santarém Port. Dodgy paperwork that disguises the origin and species of timber is just one of the ways companies try to 'legalise' timber that has come from illegal operations.

"The Brazilian authorities need to go even further. They must track how this timber was logged, transported and processed before it reached the port to establish whether other illegal activities are connected to this particular cargo."

IBAMA's inspection follows Greenpeace's recent campaign to highlight the problem.

On 17th March, activists prevented the cargo ship, the Galina III, from entering the French port of Caen for 24 hours. The ship was loaded with timber sourced from companies with links to illegal logging operations in the Amazon. In a statement, Jean-Louis Borloo, French environment minister, announced that the future French Presidency of the EU will support new laws to help fight illegal and unsustainable logging.

Judy Rodrigues, Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace International said: "Because IBAMA lacks the resources to carry out regular inspections, it's down to the EU to make sure that illegally sourced timber doesn't slip through the net. The EU needs to use its economic clout and introduce tough new laws to ensure that all timber products placed on its market are from legal sources and well managed forests."

Greenpeace is also calling on the Brazilian government to tackle illegal logging and improve forest governance and law enforcement in the Amazon Basin.

Tropical deforestation is responsible for about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the emissions of the world's entire transport sector. Last month, the Brazilian government admitted that the rate of deforestation is speeding up rather than slowing down. Deforestation is the main source of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions, making it the most important contributing factor to the country's position as the world's fourth-largest climate polluter.

Other contacts: For more information please contact:Marcelo Marquesini, Greenpeace Amazon Campaigner in Manaus, Brazil, on +00 55 92 81 37 91 82Judy Rodrigues, Greenpeace International Amazon Campaigner in Amsterdam on +00 31 6 4616 6299Greenpeace International press office: Vicky Wyatt on +00 44 7801 212 970Greenpeace International Photodesk: John Novis +00 44 20 7865 8230Greenpeace International Videodesk: +00 31 (0) 6 461 62015

Notes: Notes to Editors:1.) IBAMA imposed 290 thousand Reais (171, 876 US$ or 108,505 Euros) in fines on companies RainbowTrading Importacao e Exportacao Ltda, Sabugy Madeiras Ltda, Madeireira Lider Ltda, U.T.C Madeiras Ltda, Batista e Farias Transf. de Madeiras Ltda. and Eco-Log Exportadora de Madeira Ltda. These companies had exported timber onboard the Galina III, offloading in the ports of Flushing (Netherlands), Leixoes (Portugal), Caen (France), Villa Garcia and Ferrol (Spain). 2.) The buyers identified in the documents of the confiscated timber were United Timber Company LLC, Rodenhuis Holding BV (Netherlands), Etablissements Peltier (France) and Fernando Martins Coelho (Portugal). 3.) Greenpeace’s report – A Future for Forests – details the illegal trade in timber between Europe and Brazil. It can be downloaded from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/future-for-forestsYou can read more about Greenpeace’s action earlier this month at the Port of Caen, France at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/releases/greenpeace-activists-block-tim4.) The European Commission is preparing to publish a legislative proposal to regulate timber and its products on its market this May.