We are destroying the world's precious ancient forests at an unprecedented rate. An area of natural forest the size of a soccer field is cut down every two seconds. The moment a road or pipeline is built, the forest and its precious balance of interdependent species begins to be destroyed. To preserve these last intact forests and the biodiversity they support, we must protect large, unbroken areas from further industrial exploitation.
Greenpeace has helped protect ancient forests from destruction, including:
- (Early 2013) Announced an unprecedented breakthrough for the Indonesian rainforest. After more than a decade of campaigning against Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the largest paper companies in the world announced a forest conservation policy and a commitment to zero deforestation.
- In 2007, together with other environmental groups, Greenpeace got 1.5 million signatures of support and pushed through Argentina's first federal forest protection law. The new law included a nationwide one-year moratorium on clearing of native forests while forest management regulations are put in place.
- In 2006, an area twice the size of Belgium - 16 million acres - was given greater protection in the Amazon after a Presidential decree.
- Also in 2006, the British Columbian government announced full protections of one-third of the Great Bear Rainforest will be implemented by 2009. An area of over five million acres will be protected from all logging.
- In 2005, Greenpeace teamed up with the Wichi people to protect 85 square miles of forest area in northern Argentina.
- In 2004, following years of campaigning in the Amazon by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations, the Brazilian government created two massive protective reserves. The presidential decree protected five million acres of the Amazon forest by creating the Verde Para Sempre and Riozinho do Anfrisio extractive reserves.
- In 2003, the Deni, indiginous peoples of the Amazon, celebrated the end of an 18-year campaign to mark their land as protected from logging. Thirteen Greenpeace volunteers, including a member of the online activist community, used GPS technology and a helicopter for a month to create an "eco-corridor" around nine million acres of land.
- In 2001, an historic agreement with logging companies was reached on the conservation of Canada's remaining coastal rainforest. The agreement was subsequently approved by the government of British Columbia. This followed years of campaigning by Greenpeace targeting the trade and investments of companies involved in logging the endangered Great Bear Rainforest.
- In 1998 logging giant MacMillan Bloedel announced a phase-out of clearcut logging activities in British Columbia, Canada.
- In 1995, following a submission made with Greenpeace support, UNESCO designated Russia's Komi Forest as a World Heritage Site.
An End to Kleercut Logging
When an individual makes an environmentally-conscious choice, it is an important step for conservation. But when a corporation implements an environmentally-conscious policy, that impact is amplified thousands of times over. Often times, it takes the power of the consumer to pressure a company to do the right thing.
- In 2010, Burger King, Nestle and HSBC abandoned supplier Sinar Mas because of concerns over its sustainability practices of palm oil production and its impact on the Paradise Forests of Indonesia. All three companies were visited by orangutan-clad Greenpeace activists at various locations and received hundreds of thousands of consumer messages via email, Facebook and Twitter calling for them to drop the notorious supplier.
- After five years of campaigning, in 2009, Kimberly-Clark, the company that makes popular brands like Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle, set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the wood fiber used in its products from environmentally responsible sources.
- In 2008, just five days after Greenpeace launched a new campaign against Unilever, which makes Dove beauty products, the company announced plans to support our call for a moratorium on rainforest destruction in Indonesia. This was fantastic news for the highly endangered orangutan, whose forest home has been destroyed at an alarming rate, in large part due to the production of palm oil, a key ingredient in many of Unilever food and cosmetic products.
- In 2007, the World Bank's private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), decided to sell its equity stake in Olam International Limited. Olam's involvement in illegal timber trade was first detailed in our Carving up the Congo report.
- In 2006, McDonald's agreed to stop selling chicken fed on soy grown in newly-deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest, then became instrumental in getting other food companies and supermarkets to sign up to a zero deforestation policy as well. Pressure from all these companies forced their suppliers, big multinational soy companies such as Cargill, to agree to a two-year moratorium on buying soy from newly-deforested areas.
- In 2005, photocopy giant Xerox agreed to stop buying timber pulp from Stora Enso, the Finnish national logging company. Following pressure by Greenpeace online activists, the company agreed to a new procurement policy, ensuring that suppliers do not source timber from old-growth forests, conservation areas or other areas designated for protection.
Slaughtering the Amazon No More
The Amazon Rainforest covers about a billion acres. It is unequivocally the biggest rainforest, and arguably the best: hosting some of the most spectacular biodiversity on the planet.
Since the 1970s, an area of Ancient rainforest the size of California has been lost. With every tree that falls, the threat to the animals and indigenous peoples that depend on the forest for survival increases. Greenpeace has been focused on protecting the Amazon for more than a decade. In 2009, we exposed the link between forest destruction and the expansion of cattle ranching in the Amazon. Shortly after the launch of our campaign, marked by our report “Slaughtering the Amazon,” we saw big changes in three distinct industries.
Retail: In June, 2010 CBD, Wal-Mart and Carrefour announced plans to assure that the meat that they buy is not from deforested areas.
Shoe: In July, 2010 Adidas, Timberland and Nike announced a new policy agreement with Greenpeace that will help ensure the leather used in its boots and shoes is not contributing to new deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest or global warming. The policy also sets a deadline for Timberland's suppliers to publicly commit to a moratorium on cattle expansion into the Amazon.
Cattle: By October, 2010 four of the biggest players in the global cattle industry — Marfrig, Bertin, JBS-Friboi and Minerva — joined forces to ban the purchase of cattle from newly deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon from their supply chains, backing our call for zero deforestation in the rainforest. Earlier that year, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, withdrew the $90 million dollar loan to Bertin to further expand into the Amazon region.
UK and Canada Publishers Go Green
In our online world, it's easy to forget how popular books, magazines and newspapers remain. The truth is the majority of books are printed on virgin (non-recycled) paper linked to ancient forest destruction in countries such as Finland and Canada. The Greenpeace Book Campaign aims to "green" the book publishing industry.
In 2004, MQ Publications (MQP) became the first UK publisher to publicly announce its collaboration with the Greenpeace Book Campaign. MQP committed to phasing out paper that is not "ancient forest friendly." They also publicly challenged all UK publishers to follow suit.
That same year, publishers of 34 Canadian magazines pledged to shift away from paper containing tree fiber from Canada's ancient forests thanks to ongoing pressure from the Markets Initiative coalition, of which Greenpeace Canada played a key role.
European publishers are following the green trend set in Canada. In the U.K., two of the top five publishers, Random House UK and Pearson (Penguin) have introduced new paper policies and Egmont, a major children's publisher has also followed suit. In Spain, 15 titles and more than 700,000 books have been printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper as has over 130,000 books in Italy.
The biggest publisher in Germany, Random House Germany, is currently printing 85 percent of its books on FSC certified paper and has committed to using FSC paper for all their titles in 2006. Several new titles in France and Belgium have been printed on Ancient Forest Friendly paper including some of the Harry Potter series.
Illegal Logging Exposed and Derailed
Illegal logging is having a devastating impact on the world's forests. Its effects include deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and fuelling climate change. This creates social conflict with indigenous and local populations and leads to violence, crime and human rights abuses. Our on-the-ground investigations exposed and derailed illegal logging activities in Brazil and Liberia.
In 1999, Greenpeace established an office in the heart of the Amazon basin to document the illegalities in the Brazilian logging sector. As work proceeded, it soon became clear that Greenpeace needed to focus on the nation's lucrative and illicit mahogany trade.
On September 26, 2001, after several years of on-the-ground investigation, Greenpeace presented documentation of large-scale illegal mahogany logging on public and Indian lands in the state of Pará to the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor's office, to the Minister of Environment, and to the president of the Brazilian Government Institute for Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA).
Greenpeace established for the first time that virtually all the mahogany trade in Pará was controlled by enterprises accused of a series of illegalities.
Greenpeace published its evidence in a report, Partners in Mahogany Crime: Amazon at the Mercy of "Gentlemen's Agreements," released in October 2001.
In reaction to the media frenzy and subsequent public outcry stemming from the Greenpeace report, the Brazilian government conducted its own investigation into mahogany forest management. Shortly after the investigation began, on October 22, 2001, the government officially froze all mahogany operations and transportation until a detailed field investigation of the entire trade could take place.
Since 2000, Greenpeace has repeatedly exposed the links between Liberian logging companies associated with illicit arms trading and timber traders throughout Europe and North America. Through extensive research we presented new and damning evidence to the timber industry, and blocked shipments of Liberian timber into many European ports, calling for timber companies to put an end to the trade in conflict timber. Liberia houses two-thirds of the Upper Guinean Rainforest.
Because of this evidence and intense campaigning by Greenpeace and Global Witness among other organizations, the UN Security Council (UNSC) agreed to impose sanctions on Liberian timber in 2003. These sanctions were imposed to afford the National Transitional Government of Liberia time to put in place transparent measures to ensure revenues earned from Liberian timber are used for the benefit of all the people of Liberia, and also to establish full authority and control over timber producing regions.