Greenpeace blocks import of ancient forest wood in Dutch harbour

Greenpeace ships attempt to prevent wood from entering Europe

Feature story - 14 April, 2002
Greenpeace's newest ship, Esperanza, and flagship, Rainbow Warrior, joined forces today off the coast of the Netherlands to block the harbour and stop ancient forest timber from entering the port of Flushing.

Greenpeace activists boarding the MV Balaban 1, a ship delivering illegally logged Amazon wood.

The Rainbow Warrior and the Esperanza entered the harbour with the Balaban I close behind. Ten Greenpeace inflatables were in the water. As the Balaban I approached, several Greenpeace climbers were able to board her. Meanwhile a tug boat was attempting to attach a bow line but was delayed by Greenpeace inflatables.

The Turkish flaged ship 'Balaban 1´ is carrying 4,000 cubic metres of wood from the Amazon rainforest. As the ship neared the harbour, its crew used fire hoses to spray water on the six Greenpeace activists who were attempting to board the vessel.

The two Greenpeace ships then blocked the timber ship´s intended berth while the six activists boarded it and unfurled two banners, one displaying the Dutch and Brazilian flags, urging those and other governments meeting in the Hague, to "Act Now" to save the ancient forests.

World governments meeting at the Ancient Forests Summit this week have made no progress towards agreeing to protect the world's ancient forests. Today's Greenpeace action exposes the need for international cooperation to save ancient forests.

Just two days ago Greenpeace activists were arrested in Miama attempting to stop yet another ship carrying illegal timber from the Amazon.

As the world's ancient forests continue to be destroyed, Brazil and the Netherlands, in particular, seem to be uninterested in taking leadership at the Ancient Forest Summit. The Netherlands, hosting the Summit in the Hague, is not controlling the importation of illegal timber and is not showing the leadership that is required to make the negotiations on ancient forests a success.

The Brazilian government recently announced that it will continue to eradicate illegal logging of mahogany. However, it is not clear who defines the Brazilian position, the President or the Brazilian delegation in the Hague.

In the negotiations this past week, Brazilian delegates have been strongly opposing the prioritisation of ancient forests protection, and refusing to take immediate action on combating illegal logging and related trade. Without international cooperation, markets around the world will continue to accept timber from illegal and destructive logging, fuelling the crisis in the world's last remaining ancient forests.