Greenpeace activists blocked a shipment carrying hundreds of logs and hundreds of bundles of sawn wood from tropical Africa today. The blockade, which took place in the Mediterranean port of Sete, France, was to protest against Europe’s continued imports of illegal and destructively logged timber from the last ancient forests around the world.


This activity took place just two days after another blockade of African timber being shipped to Valencia, Spain whereover 20 activists stopped the ship Sassandra from docking for six hours.

In Sete, activists on board the organisation’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, blocked the unloading of the cargo ship Agia Irene and stopped the cargo from getting into the port.

The both logging companies targeted during the actions in France, Inland Logging Company ( ILC) and Mohammed Group of Companies (MGC), have a documented history of violating national and international forestry law and creating serious social conflicts. According to a United Nations Security Council report of October 2001, the chairman of MGC has been involved in aiding sanctions-busting arms transfers to Liberia.

“These companies are both logging in some of Africa’s last ancient forests. Forests which are providing a lifeline for endangered animals like the forest elephant and chimpanzee,” said Greenpeace Forest Campaigner Tim Birch. “If Europe continues to import logs and woods from companies like ILC, who have no regard for either the environment or the law, these forests will not survive, and chimps and gorillas could be extinct in the wild within as little as 10 years.”

Greenpeace believes that the responsibility for the destruction the logging companies cause is also in the hands of the companies importing the wood and in those of the governments who are allowing this to happen. Two of the main importers from Liberia of this wood are a Danish company (DLH) and a Swiss company InterHolco (IHC).

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Birch. “ The ancient forests around the world are all facing the same crisis. World governments promised to save them 10 years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio. But in the last 10 years deforestation levels have risen and species face the greatest risk of extinction since the emergence of humans. And for 10 years the governments have done nothing but talk.”

The action today came in the wake of a series of Greenpeace protests highlighting the illegal and destructive nature of global timber trade, and the role of importing nations around the world in driving this unscrupulous industry. With only 20 percent of the world’s original forests left, those that remain are also in danger of disappearing. Industrial logging poses the single largest threat to their survival.

Last week, during a Greenpeace protests in Finland, activists successfully stopped the clearcutting of ancient forests in the north of that country being carried out by the government. On Saturday in the Spanish port of Valencia, activists blocked a ship carrying over 1000 cubic metres of timber coming from the forests of Cameroon.

In the run up to the forthcoming Ancient Forest Summit in the Hague, the Netherlands this April and beyond, Greenpeace is urging governments of all countries to take ACTION to immediately stop their role in the destruction of African forests by committing to:

Stop the destruction.
By stopping any further industrial activities in an intact ancient forests until responsible plans for forest conservation and sustainable use have been agreed.

Clean up the timber trade
By ensuring that timber is produced and traded in a legal and ecologically responsible way; by refusing to trade with companies known to be operating illegally or destructively; and by demanding that all wood and wood products entering national ports must come from legal and well-managed forest operations according to high social and ecological standards.

Come up with the money
By providing at least US$ 15 billion each year to pay for forest conservation and sustainable development.

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