Governments fail to reverse trend of forest destruction

Ancient Forest Summit in the Hague ends in failure

Feature story - 19 April, 2002
After two weeks of intense debate, governments walked away from the Ancient Forest Summit without any agreement on urgent measures to protect ancient forests.

Canada's clearcut logging; Canada blocked forest summit progress.

Although delegates and minsters recognised that the world´s "biodiversity is being destroyed by human activities at unprecedented rates," they failed to take the necessary action to stop further loss, and admit that their efforts so far have been "too few, too little and too late".

Some countries such as France, Germany and Russia supported action to stop the ongoing destruction.

However, Brazil, Canada and Malaysia spent two weeks watering down the action program, blocking progress and failing to reverse forest loss and tackle illegal logging.

Governments took only minor steps that fail to match the scale of the crisis. Governments will not be able to justify this to future generations who will inherit the results of their failure.

Adriana Carvalho dos Santos, 17, from Brazil, one of a thousand young people from the Greenpeace Kids for Forests, representing 19 countries, who came to the Hague to express their concerns and hopes said, "I do not understand what games are played here. All they care about is money and their own interests. Our forests are our future. Within my lifetime the jaguar and the gorilla may have nowhere left to live. I just can´t believe it!"

The culprits

Each day during the conference, non-governmental organizations gave a "stump of the day" award to the country that had done the most to block progress to protect ancient forests.

The winners are:


Brazil received two stump awards and the final award of the golden chainsaw for failing to take measures that would help Brazil fight illegal and powerful loggers within their own country.

Brazil also consistently obstructed agreements on strong and meaningful text for the convention, did not want a priority on illegal logging and related trade, and the Brazilian minister failed to show for the meeting.


Canada was unanimously awarded a stump for its unwillingness to agree on international priorities, greenwashing of its own forest industry and, despite being the wealthiest forested nation in the world, blocking prioritisation of forests within the agreement.

The United States

Although the US is the wealthiest nation on the planet, and recently increased its military budget by $100 billion, it makes the most miserly contributions in overseas development in relation to its GDP. The US is also one of a small group of countries that has failed to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity. That group also includes Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands was awarded a stump for allowing illegally logged timber to enter the country despite the destruction it causes. As the host of the meeting, the Dutch did not show sufficient political leadership for action to protect ancient forests.


Malaysia was awarded a stump for not even wanting to discuss forests as an issue under the Convention of Biological Diversity.

Governments failed to:

- Stop further industrial activities in intact ancient forests until responsible plans for forest conservation and sustainable use are agreed [Moratoria];

- Ensure that timber and other forest products are produced and traded in a legal and ecologically responsible way [Measures]; and

- Commit to even the most minimal funds to pay for forest conservation and sustainable use [Money].

The last ancient forests are now in the hands of heads of government who will meet at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg later this year.

Greenpeace will continue to do what's right for the forests and the people who live in and depend on them for their livelihood and culture. We will continue to expose all those who threaten their survival.