Greenpeace activists in the Italian port of Salerno today seized part of a shipment of sawn timber from Cameroon, traded by a company suspected to be involved in illegal logging activities. Greenpeace volunteers hung a banner stating SALVIAMO LE FORESTE (Save ancient forests) and FOREST CRIME. The seized timber was delivered by Greenpeace to the local police station, where activists asked the police to open a formal investigation into the shipment.
The cargo of the ship, Aigiorgis, originated from the port of Douala, and was carrying timber from Cameroonian loggers Ing‚nierie Foresti_©re (IngF), a company actively suspected to be involved in illegal logging activities.
In a recent field investigation in Cameroon, Greenpeace discovered an undocumented & unsanctioned operation organised by IngF. According to the Greenpeace research, IngF abused one of its legal cutting permits by using it to cover up a massive illegal logging operation covering an estimated 1800 hectares of African ancient rainforest. In the last few years IngF received a high number of fines due to its illegalities in forest management, and it is well known in the Cameroonian forest sector for its predatory attitude.
IngF's destructive and illegal activities are driven by the demand of the European marketplace. Italy represents the major importer within the European Union for IngF timber, with EU countries such as Spain, France and Belgium also being important markets.
"The illegal timber trade industry has for years been driving the destruction of Africa's magnificent ancient forests," said Sergio Baffoni of Greenpeace Italy. This results in massive ecological damage, severe social conflicts and huge financial losses for African governments. Too little is being done to curb this trend.
In light of this research, Greenpeace is calling on the Italian Government, the European Commission and all member states to waste no time in prioritising the adoption of new EU law to halt the import of all illegal wood products into Europe, as well as other measures to combat illegal logging. The issue of when and how to adopt a new EU law preventing the import of illegal forest products will be discussed by EU Environment Ministers on the 28th of June at an EU Environment Council meeting in Luxembourg.
"The world's ancient forests face the threat of destruction, largely due to the unchecked actions of logging companies added Baffoni. Forests continue to be cleared and degraded at an alarming rate, yet the timber trade is not held accountable for these illegal and destructive practices."