Greenpeace exposes blood timber planned for use in Rome's Metro

Feature story - 24 March, 2009
Greenpeace activists in Italy chained themselves to a shipment of illegally logged azobé ‘blood timber’ in Italy’s Ravenna port, hanging banners reading “African Forest Crime” and “Forest Destruction = Climate Change.” We also took action outside the Colosseum at one Rome’s busiest Metro stations, hanging a giant banner with the message “Forest Destruction Sponsored by Me.Tro”

Ravenna port, Italy. Activists chain themselves to illegally logged 'blood timber' from Liberia.

The cargo of 'blood timber' comes from Liberia, where it was illegally taken during the civil war. It is planned for use in upgrading Rome's metro system. Unsurprisingly, this had not been communicated to metro passengers.

So we exposed it.

This truly is blood timber. During Liberia's decade's long civil war, the then president Charles Taylor exploited the country's tropical forests, handing them over in exchange for money and arms. As Chiara Campione from Greenpeace Italy said, "this blood timber has fuelled destruction, war and climate change."

Rome - a forest friendly city?

Most of the azobé was bought by Italian company Interwood Srl, which recently won a €720,000 contract with Me.Tro Roma Spa, the company responsible for upgrading Rome's metro system. They plan to use it to maintain the train tracks, including replacing the sleepers, in Rome's A and B metro lines.

Allowing illegally logged timber to be used for public transport works contradicts the Municipality of Rome's 2002 commitment to the Greenpeace campaign for "Forest Friendly Cities." As a signatory it promised to establish criteria to ensure companies carrying out public works could guarantee any timber they used came from legal and sustainable sources.

When asking companies to bid for the metro upgrade project, Me.Tro Roma did not include a single requirement that the timber used was guaranteed to be sustainable.

Italy must stop funding forest destruction, and start funding climate protection

Tropical deforestation is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Ending forest destruction is one of the fastest and easiest ways to avert catastrophic climate change.

Italy is one of the biggest gateways in Europe for illegally logged timber. It is way past time the government stopped funding forest destruction and instead started doing something to save the climate by committing to fund forest protection.

We've calculated that the EU and other rich nations that contribute the most to the climate crisis owe a carbon debt of at least €110 billion a year. By 2020, this money must be given to a fund to help developing countries, including Liberia, adapt to climate change and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by protecting their forests and developing clean energy. Italy's fair share of this carbon debt is at least €4 billion a year by 2020.

Liberia must end blood timber trade

We are also telling Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that she must protect her country's precious forest resources.

The azobé shipment sent to Italy exposes fundamental holes in the management of the Liberian Forest Development Agency (FDA). The sustainable development institute briefing the "Hunter's Whistle"

shows how the FDA authorised the shipment to Italy despite it contravening Liberian law on numerous occasions.

The Liberian parliament is the in the process of considering three forest management contracts. We urge the Liberian government not to put the country's forests into the hands of logging companies - the result will devastate the country's development and environment.

Take action

Deforestation is responsible for 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Support Greenpeace's campaign to cut emissions, not trees.