British companies in Amazon mahogany rip-off
Friends of the Earth revealed on February 13 that British companies are continuing to buy mahogany that has been illegally cut from the Amazon rainforests of Brazil.
Official Brazilian government documents obtained by FOE show that Brazilian companies known to be supplying British companies with mahogany wood were involved in dozens of instances of illegal rainforest logging during 1993 and 1994.
Many of the illegal activities were undertaken by companies belonging to the timber industry body AIMEX (Industry Association of the Timber Exporters of Para State). In 1992, members of AIMEX signed an agreement to obtain mahogany only from legal sources. This agreement has also been signed by some of Britain's leading timber companies.
However, information obtained by FOE shows that several AIMEX members have, since, the agreement was signed two years ago, illegally extracted millions of dollars worth of mahogany from indigenous and other protected areas.
The information shows that companies logging Brazil's rainforests have smuggled mahogany, logged in unauthorised areas, exceeded legal levels of felling and falsified documents.
Simon Counsell, forest campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "This evidence demonstrates how the cutting of mahogany is out of control. The timber industry cannot be trusted to stamp out the illegal trade, and the Brazilian authorities are clearly unable to effectively police the scattered clumps of mahogany that remain."
FOE is calling for a consumer boycott of Brazilian mahogany until the trade is brought under control.
According to an opinion poll carried out for FOE, nearly three quarters of the public think that the British government should ban imports of rainforest timber.