This deforestation has consequences not only for the native peoples of
Brazil but for the entire planet.
Amazon Rainforest is vital for rainfall in the region as water is
continually recycled through the Amazon forest by evaporation and rain.
Destruction of the forest has already led to changes in the micro climate
with the possibility that further destruction will accelerate micro and
regional climatic change. Furthermore, the continuing logging and burning
of the forest is contributing to climate change and global warming.
Amazon Mahogany Criminals Busted
State, Brazil: The growing battle against the mahogany criminals in the
Brazilian Amazon reached flash point on October 30, 2001 as an
unprecedented joint operation, between the federal police, government
officials and Green peace, raided a sawmill, bringing to an end a five-day
mission which uncovered a total of 77,115 cubic feet of illegal mahogany
worth almost U.S. seven 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.
helicopters, two planes, five trucks, 16 officials from the Brazilian
environmental agency IBAMA and police, accompanied by 11 Greenpeace
activists, converged on the sawmill outside the township of Uruara, the
frontline of illegal logging in the Amazon.
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.
investigation team visited four locations in the middle Land in the
Brazilian Amazon. Behind a dam built by loggers on the Carajari River,
18,019 cubic feet 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, 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.
seizures follow several recent Greenpeace exposes of the mahogany
corruption trail, which preceded a death threat to Greenpeace Amazon
campaign coordinator, 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.
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.
released photographs and video images from a recent aerial reconnaissance
clearly showing sophisticated logging operations in lands belonging to the
Amazon’s Kayapo Indians, an area where logging is strictly prohibited. A
month later, 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
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.
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.
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.
four importers, DLH Nordisk, Aljoma Lumber, J Gibson Mcllvain Co Ltd and
Intercontinental Hardwoods Inc. accounted for more than two-thirds of the
mahogany export trade in one year from Moisés and Ferreira. Top U.S.
companies such as Ethan Allen, Stickley, Henredon, Drexel Heritage and
Georgia Pacific are buying illegal mahogany from the Amazon Rainforest.
This mahogany is used largely in luxury goods such as yachts, high-class
furniture, musical instruments and coffins.
sent a letter informing the companies of its findings on October 18, 2001.
So far only one company, Craftique, a furniture manufacturer, has
responded denying it has purchased illegal mahogany form the Amazon
rainforest. According to official Brazilian government statistics, the
United States is the principal market for Brazilian mahogany.
exposure of this scandal is part of Greenpeace’s global campaign for the
protection of the world’s last ancient forests. Approximately 80 percent
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 US $15 billion
annually to fund these measures.
is no one solution to save the Amazon Rainforest. A wide range of
sustainable and effective initiatives are needed to prevent the continuing
destruction of the Amazon while simultaneously improving the quality of
life for more than 20 million people living in the region. This can only
be achieved if economic alternatives and solutions to destructive logging
The Amazon Solutions
There is no one solution to save the Amazon Rainforest.
A wide range of sustainable and effective initiatives are needed to
prevent the continuing destruction of the Amazon while simultaneously
improving the quality of life for more than 20 million people living in
the region. This can only be achieved if economic alternatives and
solutions to destructive logging are found. Potential solutions include:
tapping has been a traditional way of life for many people living in the
Amazon forest since the start of the century. It is not damaging to the
forest as it does not require the tree to be cut down in order for the
latex to be extracted.
many as 63,000 families now earn their living from rubber tapping in
extractive reserves in the Amazon forest. These reserves cover up to one
percent of the Amazon forest and were established by the Brazilian
Government to allow the rubber tappers to maintain their traditional way
of life. To date only 5,000 tons of rubber is extracted from the Amazon to
supply 1.4 percent of the national market for rubber in Brazil. The
National Council of Rubber Tappers is trying to address this imbalance.
Palm Fruits and Palm Hearts
fruits of the Acai Palm found in the Amazon, are traditionally used to
make a juice which is rich in minerals. A single palm tree produces up to
20 kg of fruit per year. The fruits produce a tasty, dark violet colored
juice which is the most financially viable nonwood forest product from the
Amazon’s delta. In 1995 almost 106,000 tons of wine was produced at a
value of $40 million U.S. dollars.
the palm tree has to be felled in order to extract the palm hearts, the
relative ease of replanting the trees in the middle of the forest and
their rapid regeneration make this a far preferable and sustainable
alternative to large-scale logging. The biggest importers of palm hearts
from the Amazon are France, Canada, the United States, Spain, Japan,
Holland and Belgium.
Fruits and Nuts
growing attraction towards new products from the Amazon, including
vitamins, minerals, exotic fruits, nuts and spices are providing growing
opportunities to market these products both nationally and
internationally. Over 48 native fruits in the Amazon have been identified
with the potential for sale on the international market.
camu-camu fruit for example contains a higher concentration of vitamin C
than any other fruit known in the world and is imported to the United
States for the production of vitamin tablets. Cupuacu is another fruit
with a unique tropical taste that is expected to enter the world market in
the coming years. In addition, many indigenous tribes in the Amazon
collect Brazil nuts as their main source of income.
two-thirds of all mass-produced pharmaceutical drugs are derived from
medicinal plants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) eighty
percent of the world’s population use plants to treat a wide ranging
spectrum of illnesses from hypertension to syphilis. Natural extracts from
the Pacific Yew in the rainforests of North America, for example, have
proven effective against cancer and is just one example of a natural
occurring remedy in the world’s rainforests.
potential of the Amazon has only just begun to be realized. At present,
close to 650 species of plant with pharmaceutical properties and economic
value have been discovered in the Amazon. There are countless more.
in the Amazon, and indeed in other areas of the world’s ancient forests,
has huge potential but is at present managed in an unsatisfactory way.
Ecotourism has the potential to guarantee minimal environmental impact on
the Amazon rainforest through the application of environmentally friendly
technologies and environmentally sympathetic accommodation for visitors.
It could also guarantee that the income received from such activities
would directly benefit the local communities.
to its outstanding natural beauty the Amazon forest offers many wide
ranging options for ecotourism and adventure tourism such as trekking,
rafting, diving, cruising, bird watching and wildlife observation. In the
Amazon, there are currently 16 jungle lodges (1997) registered with the
official Tourist Office of Amazons state, offering over 1,007 beds
is essential that any further development of ecotourism has to be
carefully monitored to ensure the sustainable expansion of the industry.
Community based fisheries
There is huge potential to
utilize the existing fish stocks in the Amazon in a more sustainable way.
One economic alternative would be to set up community based fisheries
operated in a sustainable and ecological way.
believes that customers have the right to know whether or not the products
they buy have resulted in forest destruction.
logging is appropriate in the Amazon basin, or in any forest worldwide,
every effort must be made to ensure that social and environmental concerns
are addressed. Certification of forestry operations can be an important
step towards the elimination of destructive and illegal timber harvesting
and also safeguard workers, local populations and the environment.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) offers the only certification with
international market credibility. The FSC certification is assessed on
independent environmental, social and economic performance standards,
audited in the forest. The criteria for certification cover basic
Conservation of ancient forests of major environmental, social and
Environmental impact of logging methods
and land-use rights and responsibilities
Community relations and workers rights • Monitoring and assessment of
there are three forestry companies working in the Brazilian Amazon that
have received FSC certification: Precious Woods Amazonas, Gethal Amazonas
and Jurua Florestal Ltda.
DENI INDIANS WIN LEGAL RIGHT TO THEIR AMAZON LAND:
commends the Deni for protecting their land from illegal logging
Brazil—After a two year struggle supported by Brazilian organizations
including Greenpeace, the Deni Indians of the Brazilian Amazon won the
right to legally protect their lands from illegal logging and industrial
formal decree signed by Brazil’s Minister of Justice last week, was
officially announced on October 16, 2001, in Brasilia, granting formal
recognition of the Deni’s rights to their traditional land, some
1,530,000 hectares in the remote south west of the Amazon inhabited by 670
people. According to the Brazilian Constitution, all Indian lands should
have been demarcated by 1993 and the Deni themselves were first promised
this in 1984. Of the 580 Indian territories identified in Brazil, only 360
have been formally demarcated.
1999 Greenpeace first learned that the Malaysian logging giant WTK had
purchased 151,000 hectares of land that overlapped with the Deni’s
traditional territories. Greenpeace went to the area and met with the Deni,
who until that time were unaware of the threat.
subsequent visits by Green- peace, the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI)
and Operacao Amazonia Nativa (OPAN), the Deni asked for help to mark the
borders of their land and to have this recognized by the Brazilian federal
many years of broken promises from the federal government, the Deni took
matters into their own hands and started cutting the demarcation line
around their traditional lands themselves," said Greenpeace
campaigner Nilo D’Avila. "And they have succeeded in gaining
government acknowledgment of their land. We are proud to have played a
small part in their great victory."
September, 2001, volunteers from Greenpeace, CIMI and OPAN supplied
technical and logistical support to the Deni as they marked their most
vulnerable borders, cutting 33 miles of trails through thick jungle, and
135 miles along the banks of rivers and creeks. Along the routes, the Deni
posted signs reading "Entry Prohibited. Deni Land."
letter dated 30th September, 2001, from 10 Deni leaders to FUNAI, Brazil’s
Indian Agency, stated "Deni waited a long time for the demarcation,
but the demarcation did not happen. Deni decided to do the work. Deni will
only halt the work if FUNAI gives a precise date of the beginning of
demarcation and accepts the work that Deni has already complete."
reply came in the form of the official publication of the Government
Decree, which holds the Deni’s lands in perpetuity for their sole use.
All industrial activities, such as logging and mining, are now prohibited.
Brazilian Government must make a priority of keeping their promises to the
Deni. They must legally recognize the work done by the Deni, and complete
the demarcation of all Deni lands, under the supervision of the Deni
themselves," said D’Avila. Greenpeace is also calling on the
Government of Brazil to urgently meet their constitutional, social and
moral obligations to demarcate all Indian lands in Brazil. Twenty percent
of the Brazilian Amazon is Indian land.
support for the Deni demarcation is part of a campaign to protect the
world’s remaining ancient forests. Some 80 percent of the world’s
ancient forests have already been degraded or destroyed. Time is running
out for the remaining 20 percent of intact ancient forests unless
governments around the world take swift action to ensure their future.