Greenpeace volunteers invade Tilbury Docks to brand rainforest timber as criminal

Last edited 3 July 2000 at 8:00am
3 July, 2000

At 5.20am this morning 30 Greenpeace volunteers entered London's Tilbury Docks and painted a warning for UK buyers on pallets of criminal timber from the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazonian plywood came from the MV Enif, which Greenpeace volunteers occupied for more than 75 hours a fortnight ago, to prevent it unloading at Tilbury Docks.

The volunteers in Tilbury Docks branded the pallets with the logo, 'Protect the Amazon - Stop Criminal Timber Imports' so importers and users will know where the timber originates. Major UK timber merchants like James Latham plc and Montague L.Meyer Ltd buy plywood from WTK Amaplac, one of the companies behind logging the Amazon.

Since the MV Enif direct action, several UK timber companies have responded to Greenpeace announcing they will stop buying timber from WTK's logging operaton in the Amazon. Greenpeace has also written to building companies across the UK today asking them to avoid buying the branded timber.

Greenpeace Amazon campaigner Brenda Ramsey said,
"By branding this criminal timber, we want to make sure that importers and buyers can't hide their involvement in Amazon rainforest destruction. We are determined to expose all the UK companies who are dealing in this criminal timber trade which is slowly destroying the largest rainforest in the world."

Every month hundreds of tonnes of plywood from the Amazon comes into the UK. The Brazilian Government has said that 80% of all wood logged in the Amazon is taken illegally. WTK, the Malaysian multinational behind these timber imports is one of the world's biggest rainforest destroyers. The company has convictions, along with its third party log suppliers, for trading in illegal logs from the Amazon.

WTK is also threatening to log on land belonging to Deni Indians. On June 21 st the Catholic aid agency CAFOD issued a statement saying it "fears for the survival of the Deni Indians in the Amazon after land bordering on Deni territory was recently bought by a logging company." CAFOD's local partner, the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), warns "that if the planned deforestation takes place, the subsequent damage could jeopardise the very existence of the tribe.(2)"

A Greenpeace investigation using its ship the MV Amazon Guardian in May and June in the area of the Amazon where WTK gets its logs, uncovered several illegal log rafts. These logs included the increasingly rare Samauma tree, known locally as the 'Queen of the Forest' because it towers above its neighbours, reaching 30 metres in height and 3 metres in diameter".

Later this month leaders of the big industrialised countries will meet in Japan to discuss the international illegal timber trade. Tony Blair has already promised to take action to stop the import of illegal and destructively logged timber into the UK. He has also recently thanked Greenpeace for "the important role Greenpeace is playing in tackling illegal logging"(3).

Brenda Ramsey said,
"Tony Blair has promised action on illegal logging yet every month another chunk of the Amazon comes up the Thames into Tilbury. Tony Blair now has the chance to set a leading example to Europe's other big consumers of rainforest timber. He should stop these criminal timber imports now.

Notes to editors:
(1) Companies that have suspended orders of WTK plywood from the Amazon include:
International Plywood, Premier Forest Products Ltd, MDM Timber Ltd, Taylor Maxwell Timber Ltd Quinta Plywood Garstang Timber & Plywood Ltd.

Companies that have been in contact with Greenpeace and are currently considering their position include: Mendip plywood, James Latham plc, Montague L Meyer, Arnold Laver, William T Eden Ltd.

(2) Copy of CAFOD press release.

(3) Copy of correspondence from Tony Blair. Following the action against the MV Enif in the UK, on Tuesday 27 th June Greenpeace volunteers in Germany also took peaceful direct action to stop the MV Enif from unloading more of its criminal timber in Hamburg and renamed the ship 'Amazon Crime'.

Further information:
Greenpeace press office on 020 7865 8255

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