The world’s ancient forests threatened by European governments and banks

Sète, France 16 May 2003—Greenpeace activists today continued their protest
in France this morning by bringing all timber activities in Sète Harbour to
a halt when they chained themselves to the entrance to the harbour and
unfurled a banner that read "France official partner in ancient forest
destruction." While in Germany, activists brought evidence of rainforest
destruction and contamination from the WestLB Bank’s investment in an oil
pipeline that runs through the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Every two seconds, an ancient forest area the size of a football pitch is
being degraded or destroyed. Greenpeace is campaigning to protect the
world’s remaining ancient forests by promoting ecologically sustainable and
social responsible forest use and the establishment of protected areas.
Protected forest areas are dedicated to the conservation of their
biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and
are established and managed respecting traditional land rights—particularly
those of indigenous peoples. They are protected from road building and
industrial activities.

In France, Greenpeace condemns the use of timber from destructive, illegal
or conflict sources by the French government in public buildings and
projects. Over 25% of the tropical timber in France goes to use in the
public sector. Yesterday, Greenpeace inspection of the harbour revealed
that at least 70% of the logs found there are from contentious sources in
Liberia and Cameroon.

"How does our government believe they can achieve responsible public
procurement when they continue to buy timber such as what we saw here,”
said Ludovic Frère from Greenpeace in Sete.

Greenpeace is determined to continue to push the French government to phase
out the use of timber from illegal sources and the destruction of the last
ancient forests. The government announced last year concrete measures to
integrate environmental criteria into their public procurement but nothing
has happened so far.

In Germany, activists laid out a red carpet with oil stains and placed
yellow oil drums before the head office of what is the biggest German
public bank to demonstrate the extent of the destruction of the rainforest
by German investment.

“This is the evidence of WestLB’s true record, “said Sandra Pfotenhauer of
Greenpeace in Germany. “Contaminated rivers that flow through what until
recently was a pristine forest.”

For further information:
Christoph Thies, Greenpeace International Forest Campaign, onboard the
Rainbow Warrior in France, +49 171 833 1107
Ludovic Frere, Greenpeace France Forest Campaign, in Sete, +33 672 70 4913
Sandra Pfotenhauer, Greenpeace Germany Forest Campaign, in Germany, +49 40
30 618 338
Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace International Press Officer, (m) +31 (0) 627000064

Stills and footage available from Greenpeace International Photo Desk, John
Novis (m) +31 65 381 9121 and Video Desk, Hester van Meurs, (m) +31 629 00
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