Timberland takes first steps, but needs to put its foot down once and for all

by Mike Gaworecki

July 27, 2009

Responding to concerns that its demand for leather is fueling deforestation of the Amazon and contributing to climate change, Timberland has taken a major step toward protecting the Amazon rainforest today. While the company’s announcement of a new policy is a positive and welcome step, Timberland needs to put its foot down and tell Bertin, one of Timberland’s leather suppliers and one of the dirtiest companies in Brazil, that it will no longer purchase leather made from Amazon destruction, period.

Bertin supports the deforestation and burning of the Amazon to graze cattle. According to our report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” that’s not all that’s wrong with Bertin:

Greenpeace has identified hundreds of ranches within the Amazon rainforest supplying cattle to Bertin’s slaughterhouses in the Amazon state of Pará. Where Greenpeace was able to obtain mapped boundaries for ranches, satellite analysis reveals that significant supplies of cattle come from ranches active in recent and illegal deforestation. Trade data also reveal trade with ranches using modern-day slavery. Additionally, one Bertin slaughterhouse receives supplies of cattle from an illegal ranch occupying Indian Lands. (p. 66)

The Brazilian Federal Prosecutor based in Para State has opened a billion-dollar lawsuit against Bertin and other cattle companies for illegal deforestation. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, has withdrawn a $90 million dollar loan to Bertin. It’s time for Timberland to take the next step and let Bertin know that it will cancel its contract if Bertin doesn’t stop supporting Amazon deforestation and global warming.

Please write to Timberland now and thank them for taking the first step, but ask them to put their foot down once and for all by establishing a policy of accepting absolutely no leather from Bertin until Bertin commits to a moratorium on any new deforestation for cattle expansion. If Timberland does not take a hard line with suppliers who are destroying the Amazon and our climate for cattle, who will?

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