Governments fail to stop destruction of ancient forests from illegal logging; Greenpeace takes action

Feature story - February 16, 2004
The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, today announced the discovery of several barges loaded with hundreds of logs soon to be exported from Indonesia. The logs come from a region that includes the Tanjung Puting National Park and are suspected to have been extracted illegally. Four activists from the UK, the Philippines, the USA and Papua New Guinea displayed a banner with the message "Stop Forest Crime" on one of the log barges in central Kalimantan.

Greenpeace identifies suspected illegal logs on a barge off the coast of central Kalimantan in Indonesia. These logs came from an area including the Tanjung Puting National Park -- home of dwindling numbers of orang-utans where logging is forbidden.

Greenpeace is now on patrol off the coast of Kalimantan documenting the continuing destruction of the region's forests, while governments discuss the future of Life on Earth at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "We're doing the job that governments are failing to do," said Stephen Campbell of Greenpeace

International, speaking from the Rainbow Warrior. "The world's oceans

and forests are in crisis but the international community has failed to take serious steps in the 12 years since the Rio summit to really protect life on earth."

The second week of the UN meeting of the Convention of Biological diversity starts today. Governments have not yet agreed on concrete actions that will protect the earth's biodiversity and stop the ongoing destruction of ancient forests from illegal logging.

About 80 % of Indonesia's timber exports are illegal. Important markets such as China, the EU and the USA import illegal rainforest timber. Producer countries as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are being logged illegally because of the demand for timber and the lack of proper enforcement of Forestry legislation.

Greenpeace is highlighting the plight of the world's last remaining ancient forests and the depletion of the oceans during the summit for life on earth-the UN meeting of the Convention for Biological Diversity- which is currently taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia . Greenpeace is urging governments to protect life in all its diversity, indigenous people's rights and cultural variety by providing money for protection of life on land and sea. World governments must also ban large scale industrial activity in all sensitive areas and establish a network of

land and marine protected areas with effective law enforcement and management.

Note to the Editors:

Ancient forests are home to up to 80% of the world's terrestrial diversity of plant and animal species. Millions of indigenous peoples and traditional forest dwellers depend on these forests for their livelihoods and culture. But ancient forests do not only provide goods and services to local people. They provide freshwater for millions of people living in cities far away from these forests. Forests also regulate and maintain hydrological and atmospheric cycles on a global level. Many international pharmaceutical products are based on genetic resources and species from ancient forests.