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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Greenpeace - AMAZON MAHOGANY CRIMINALS BUSTED


Date : 31st Oct 2001, Source : Newsgroup

US $7 million of 'green gold' seized

31 October 2001

Para State, Brazil: The growing battle against the mahogany criminals in the Brazilian Amazon reached flash point yesterday as an unprecedented joint operation, between the federal police, government officials, and Greenpeace, raided a sawmill, bringing to an end a five-day mission which uncovered a total of 7,165 cubic metres of illegal mahogany worth almost US$7 million on the international market. The sawmill, empty but surrounded by logs carefully hidden in the bush, would have been the clearing point for the illegal mahogany found in the previous days.

Three helicopters, two planes, five trucks, 16 officials from the Brazilian environmental agency IBAMA and police, accompanied by 11 Greenpeace activists, yesterday converged on the sawmill outside the township of Uruara, the frontline of illegal logging in the Amazon. The sawmill is owned, according to IBAMA, by a frontman for Osmar Ferreira, one of the mahogany kings identified in a recent Greenpeace investigation as laundering illegal mahogany for export to the US and Europe.

The investigation team visited four locations in the Middle Land in the Brazilian Amazon. Behind a dam built by loggers on the Carajari River, 1,674 cubic metres of illegal mahogany were found. These logs were located inside public lands where logging is strictly prohibited. Yesterday, IBAMA seized the largest haul of logs in the whole operation - 5,385 cubic metres - which was located at the Juvilandia farm, by the Iriri River. Two gunmen were also arrested by the police in the area during the operation.

The seizures follow several recent Greenpeace exposes of the mahogany corruption trail, which preceded a death threat to Greenpeace Amazon campaign co-ordinator, Paulo Adario, and an announcement a week ago by the Brazilian government suspending all logging, transport and trade of Brazilian mahogany until it completes an investigation into the industry.

High quality mahogany is only found in pristine areas of rainforest, and so the illegal mahogany trade is directly responsible for the destruction of these areas as it leaves behind a network of roads and trails that other loggers can use to access the remaining forest.

"The illegal mahogany industry has for years been driving the destruction of the Amazon. After witnessing the rampant destruction of this rainforest firsthand, it is clear to us that the only course of action left to the Brazilian government is to throw these loggers in jail and stop this industry until it can be brought under control," said Adario.

Only a month ago, Greenpeace released photographs and video images from a recent aerial reconnaissance clearly showing sophisticated logging operations in lands belonging to the Amazon's Kayapó Indians, an area where logging is strictly prohibited. Three days ago, another flight over the area revealed that a large raft of illegal mahogany logs was ready to be transported downstream. IBAMA cannot investigate inside Indian lands without the support of FUNAI, the Brazilian Indian Agency, but unfortunately FUNAI did not take part in the operation.

A recent Greenpeace report, Partners in Mahogany Crime, found that the mahogany trade is driving the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and is run by a corrupt industry which is undermining traditional cultures, and leading the illegal destruction of the world's most biologically diverse ancient forest.

The report details these illegal acts and the two mahogany kings, Moisés Carvalho Pereira and Osmar Alves Ferreira, who control most of the trade. According to information obtained from workers, the wood seized at the Juvilandia farm belongs to Osmar Ferreira.

Much of the mahogany paperwork is falsified and the wood is then exported by these companies to international markets, predominantly to the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

Just four importers, DLH Nordisk, Aljoma Lumber, J Gibson McIlvain Co Ltd and Intercontinental Hardwoods Inc accounted for more than two-thirds of the mahogany export trade in one year from Moisés and Ferreira. This mahogany is used largely in luxury goods such as yachts, high-class furniture, musical instruments and coffins.

The exposure of this scandal is part of Greenpeace's global campaign for the protection of the world's last ancient forests. Approximately 80% of the original global forests have already been destroyed. Greenpeace is calling on world governments to take immediate steps to halt forest destruction by: placing a global moratorium on logging and other industrial activities in all large areas of ancient forests; adopting measures to ensure that timber is produced and traded in an ecologically, socially, and legally responsible way; establishing a network of protected areas and; creating a global ancient forest fund of $15 billion annually to fund these measures.

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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